Fact Checked

What does a Property Accountant do?

A Property Accountant manages financial operations for real estate properties. They handle budgeting, tax compliance, rent collection, and financial reporting, ensuring the property's profitability. They're the financial backbone of real estate operations. Curious about the skills needed to become a Property Accountant?
Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

A property accountant is charged with the task of tracking all cash activity for a property, as well as working with property managers to accurately account for tenant payments. This type of accountant is also relied upon to properly track all refunds due to tenants, such as security deposits that may be due after a tenant vacates the property. Each day, a property accountant must also review and keep record of a property’s cash position, as well as all banking activity for an assigned property. Other duties for this job may include keeping detailed records for all maintenance costs and invoices, preparing monthly accounting and budgeting reports, and preparing audit packages to be used by an auditor at the end of the property management company’s fiscal year.

A property accountant must also be aware of when property taxes, insurance payments and other fees are due on a particular property. This information must be kept in a clear format and the accountant is responsible for making sure these payments are made in a timely fashion to avoid additional fees or penalties. It is also the job of the accountant to provide regular reports to a property’s owners detailing when such payments are due and to keep a record of receipts once payments have been made.

A property accountant tracks security deposits, refunds, and payments.
A property accountant tracks security deposits, refunds, and payments.

Aside from working with property managers, owners, auditors and tenants, a property accountant may also, at times, be assigned to work rather closely with a property’s outside investors. An accountant may be called upon to answer investor questions and address financial concerns, as well as to provide detailed reports on a property’s overall performance. Occasionally, this type of accountant may be called upon to present financial reports at meetings, as well. In addition to strong accounting skills, a good property accountant must have strong written and verbal communication skills and be able to work well with others to effectively perform accounting tasks.

Paying real estate taxes is one responsibility of a property accountant.
Paying real estate taxes is one responsibility of a property accountant.

Most companies that are in the market to hire a property accountant require applicants to have an accounting degree, as well as experience in general accounting procedures. In some instances, a company may further require candidates to have previous experience working in real estate. A property accountant must also have experience working with property management accounting software and spreadsheets, as both of these are likely used in the accountant’s day-to-day tasks.

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Discussion Comments


@Contentum: You are exactly correct in your assessment of counting money. However, an accountant knows the difference between counting money in a publicly traded company and a private company. An accountant also knows the difference between counting money today and counting money from the future.

I love when people say they do not like accounting because they did not like math. Seriously, most accountants are adding and subtracting, sometimes multiplying and dividing. Accounting is way more reading comprehension and problem solving. The similarity with math is called logic.


As an accountant, and one who has extensive experience as a property accountant and a public accountant, I can easily say that this is beyond a basic clerical position.

Bookkeeping is what some refer to as "counting someone else's money." As a bookkeeper, you perform the daily account activities: receipts, payables, simple journal entries and reports. As an accountant, you take those duties a step farther. You are responsible for making sure that activity is reported correctly, following the generally accepted accounting principles. To be a bookkeeper, one semester of an introduction to accounting principles is enough to give you a good basis to carry out your responsibilities.

Those with at least a bachelor's degree in accounting have taken extensive accounting, finance, tax, law and economics courses. Our responsibilities are greater, so therefore our training has to be a bit more comprehensive. Yes, we are involved with the most basic activities, but we also prepare detailed financial statements that involve budget comparisons and analytical forecasting.

A working knowledge of business and tax law is key to the position, also. For those curious to what a senior accountant does, their position is responsible for not only their work, but also that of others. It's one step below that of a manager. As a property accountant, you perform the same responsibilities as that of accountant, but your focus is on property management.

As the article said, you are involved with tenant activity, leases, assisting property managers by providing them with accurate financial reports for the properties they manage, knowledge of how to handle the depreciation of building and improvements is important because there's a difference between book basis and tax basis, and the list goes on. It's definitely a position that needs training and that can't be done straight out of high school.

Hopefully, my take on the profession has provided a little bit more insight for those who were curious. I can understand how some may not understand the need to have a degree for this position, but unless you've actually looked into what the profession entails, and what type of work is produced, it's difficult to look beyond the stereotypical "pencil pusher" image and playing with software all day. For those looking into a career as a property accountant, I can vouch that it's demanding in time and skill. You are busy all year long. It's an interesting field to get into, because real estate plays a huge part in our economy, whether it be residential or commercial.


What does a senior accountant do in property accounting?


I work as a property accountant and I can tell you this job requires not only to be detail oriented but competent also. You need to know the fundamentals of the accounting in order to succeed in this job, which you can't get without going to college.

I believe that is why some companies, especially the ones that are involved with properties, taxes, financial documents and the like are a bit busier during the tax season. And also why companies that deal with document management are constantly expanding.
The hardest part of this kind of job would almost definitely have to be dealing with the tax laws and having to make sure every form and document is filled out properly and with the correct amounts of monies. Imagine if an individual tax form were a booklet. Can you picture how much documentation a business or corporation needs to have completed?
I think there's more to it than just counting money. A company must be accountable for every penny that comes in and goes out. I believe that is why they call them accountants and why they need some form of college or business degree in order to perform their jobs. I don't think you would want to be treated by someone who did not have a degree from a medical school if you were in the hospital why should it be any different in the world of accounting?

I think a business needs to hire people who are competent enough to get the job done with very little to absolute zero errors after all the errors that might be found could cost the company lots of money in fines and fees.

Its interesting that someone who chooses this profession must have a degree. I guess it's because I'm not an accountant of any kind that I see them as just being money counters. I realize my opinion might be offensive to some, but aside from the different aspects and the various software that might be used, I still think in the end all you're doing is counting someone else's money.
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    • A property accountant tracks security deposits, refunds, and payments.
      By: mim
      A property accountant tracks security deposits, refunds, and payments.
    • Paying real estate taxes is one responsibility of a property accountant.
      By: emiliezhang
      Paying real estate taxes is one responsibility of a property accountant.
    • Each day, a property accountant must review and keep record of a property's cash position.
      By: Arto
      Each day, a property accountant must review and keep record of a property's cash position.
    • A property accountant should be familiar with using spreadsheets and spreadsheet software.
      By: Sharpshot
      A property accountant should be familiar with using spreadsheets and spreadsheet software.