Real Estate Accountant: Salary, Job Description and Requirements
Written by: Hilbert College • Jan 22, 2024
Real Estate Accountant: Salary, Job Description and Requirements ¶
Every type and size of business relies on detailed and accurate accounting—and the real estate industry is no different. Real estate agents, brokers and business owners need qualified accountants for their bookkeeping and tax needs. A real estate accountant’s salary and job description can vary depending on factors including geographical location, company or agency size and the accountant’s level of education and experience.
Real estate accounting is crucial to the sustainability and growth of any property-related business, and as a result, the demand for skilled accounting professionals remains high. Earning a degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, can prepare aspiring accountants with the fundamental knowledge to thrive in this important role.
What Does a Real Estate Accountant Do? ¶
Real estate accountants perform a variety of functions designed to ensure the growth and sustainability of businesses operating in the property industry. They primarily provide bookkeeping and tax-related services, but are often called on to offer advice on the financial aspects of real estate. Though exact duties will vary, most real estate accountants regularly perform some or all of the following tasks.
Reconciling real estate business accounts through detailed reviews and audits
Managing a real estate company’s accounts receivable and accounts payable
Handling the logistics of property purchases through check distribution or funds transfers
Using a variety of software to manage data such as invoices and tax forms
Tracking statements of income and expenditure via bookkeeping software
Performing account analysis to guide future financial decisions
Preparing tax returns
Advising real estate businesses on potential cost efficiencies and savings
Offering risk analysis and forecasting services
Where Do Real Estate Accountants Work? ¶
Real estate accountants work in a wide range of settings, including real estate agencies and firms, government agencies, public accounting firms and corporate accounting departments. Some are full-time employees, others are self-employed and work on a contract basis, and still others work seasonally, usually during the spring when taxes are due.
How to Become a Real Estate Accountant: Education and Skills ¶
Education, professional credentials and skill development can directly influence a real estate accountant’s salary. Aspiring real estate accountants should choose the proper degree program, determine whether obtaining a license is required in their state and hone critical skills.
Educational Requirements ¶
A bachelor’s degree in accounting is the minimum education required to pursue an entry-level role as a real estate accountant. These degree programs focus on helping students develop skills in accounting, taxation, auditing, business law, managerial finance, information technology and more. Many students go on to pursue a master’s degree, and some choose to focus their graduate-level education on tax planning and compliance.
Certification and Credentials ¶
Some states require accountants in any field to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Students are encouraged to check with the Board of Accountancy in the state in which they seek to practice to determine licensing and certification requirements. Each state is responsible for developing the content and scoring their respective CPA examinations. Though optional in some states, the CPA designation demonstrates a candidate’s qualifications and may allow for a higher real estate accountant salary and better opportunities.
Key Skills ¶
Becoming a real estate accountant also involves developing and honing foundational skills.
Understanding of Accounting Practices ¶
Much of the real estate accountant’s time consists of performing tasks related to accounting. A bachelor’s degree program focuses on training candidates in these tasks through a mix of classroom and hands-on training.
Understanding of Real Estate Practices ¶
Real estate accountants typically learn about real estate practices in a hands-on setting, such as an entry-level accounting job with a real estate agency. Candidates are encouraged to keep up with real estate news, emerging trends and changing tax law.
Organizational Skills ¶
Organization is one of the most important skills that a real estate accountant can develop. From organizing invoices and tax documents to keeping track of income and expenditures, the sheer volume of data requires keen oversight and management.
Interpersonal Skills ¶
Because real estate accountants manage the finances of a property-related agency or company, they are often called on to provide valuable financial advice. Excellent oral and written communication skills are vital. Teamwork and collaboration are also important for working with clients, tenants, real estate agents or the general public.
Computer and Software Skills ¶
Much of a real estate accountant’s daily work involves managing ledgers and accounting systems on computers, so proficiency with technology and spreadsheets is important. Candidates who are familiar with popular bookkeeping software like Intuit QuickBooks, Oracle and FreshBooks are always in high demand.
Real Estate Accountant Salary and Job Outlook ¶
Real estate accountants are compensated based on their responsibilities, level of education, experience, geographical location and employment type. The median annual salary for accountants and auditors in general was $78,000 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Job opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to grow by about 4% between 2022 and 2032, which accounts for roughly 126,500 new openings each year, according to the BLS. Economic expansion paired with increasingly complex regulatory and tax environments are expected to be among the driving factors behind the occupation’s growth.
Become a Valued Part of Any Real Estate Business ¶
Real estate accountants are some of the most important members of any real estate company’s team. From finding and leveraging tax breaks to offering relevant and timely advice, professionals in this role have the potential to directly facilitate their employers’ growth and success.
The online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree program at Hilbert College Global can help you develop the skills to thrive in this critical role. Discover how you can embrace the best possible start to your accounting career.