Q&A: one or two QuickBooks companies for US and Canadian businesses?

Chris, a training customer of ours writes in:

I am going through your course now. It’s very helpful (♥) and am looking forward to mastering it.

I had a question about using QuickBooks for two different real estate companies. We have one based in Canada, and one in the US registered as separate entities. Would you recommend keeping both companies in the same Quickbooks document, or having two separate docs to work off of?

I am wondering if it makes more sense to amalgamate all our activities, or to keep them compartmentalized?

Thanks, Chris

Chris, thanks for writing in. Two company files is almost always the better approach.

Generally it is easier inside QuickBooks to have one company per company file. You can combine them into one (with separate balance sheet accounts for each) but it is more work. Now all recent versions of QuickBooks for Windows support opening multiple company files at the same time. (Note, I use a mac but more frequently use QuickBooks in VMWare with Windows since that version from Intuit is the most mature product). Note, if you are using the online edition, you will need to have multiple subscriptions to have more than one ‘company file.’

If you want to take advantage of the Canadian Specific version of QuickBooks, then you’ll certainly want two company files. One for Canada, in the Canadian version, the other in the US version. You can probably get away with just using one (Canada or US) version of QuickBooks too. Check that your accountants can open whichever country file you send them.

Have a question? Contact the team at Landlord Accounting; we look forward to hearing about your QuickBooks and Landlording questions – or order our training and get answers right away.

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Q&A: Partial Security Deposit Payments in QuickBooks

P.J. wrote in asking how to receive security deposit payments over time, such as in a payment plan.

How do I properly track partial security deposit payments (Some of our tenants cannot pay full deposit up front—but might take an additional month to pay in partial payments).

We need a easy way to know at any given time how much they owe. I read how to setup the security deposit in your book—but I am unclear on how to determine how much they owe vs. how much they paid.

I can look at Chart of Accounts and see how much they have paid in Security Deposit—Current Liability account—but I cannot determine how much is remaining—any help would greatly be appreciated.

Great question. Fortunately, after reading other parts of the book you practically know the solution already. You’ll want to create an invoice and invoice the tenant (job) for the security deposit. The key is you need to create an item, just like the Rent Item, but it is a new item to post to this tenant’s security deposit sub-account.

Create the new tenant’s security deposit account:

create security deposit account - partial deposits

security deposit accounts - partial deposits

Create the item to use on the invoice for the security deposit.

quickbooks item for security deposit of a tenant

partial security deposit item lists

Invoice the tenant for the item, as in the rest of the examples in the book. Then go through the book’s normal receiving of payments process as the tenant pays things back. Receive payments as many times as they pay. Choose if you want (and are allowed) to impose finance charges to a late payment.

How much does this tenant still owe in their security deposit?

Look at the Customer center and see the tenant (job’s) current outstanding balance. Or, click Reports > Customers & Receivables > Customer Balance Detail.

If all of this seems complicated, we have a simpler way that works in most cases. Usually security deposits are paid upfront, so we teach a quicker method in our training. Also, we show instructions for combining the first month’s rent with the security deposit. There are many more screenshots (with detailed arrows) in our book than in the abbreviated instructions above.

Learn about our Landlording Training for QuickBooks or order our full guide today. Money back guaranteed, no questions asked, read about some of the thousands of happy customers.

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Q&A: Escrow Account for Mortgages

I recently received a question from R.C.

After reading your book How to Use Quickbooks for Rental Properties, I have a question about escrow accounts.

I set up a mortgage payment of $5300 a month. $4400 is principal and interest and $900 goes to an escrow account to pay taxes at the end of the year. When I look at the escrow account the payments show as debits and the balance is a negative number. At the end of the year I do a transfer from the escrow account to the bank account and then pay the property taxes? The transfer from the escrow account shows up a credit. Can you help me understand why this is from an accounting point of view?

Great question. Why is the escrow account balance negative? I predict it is the wrong account type. Also, probably you are writing your mortgage checks something like this:

escrow check payment for bank loan

The key is what type of QuickBooks account is the Escrow Account? Is it a liability, an expense, or an asset? Because you are accruing money in there that you will later use to pay an expense, it is an asset you own. Thus, in QuickBooks create it as an Other Current Asset account type.

other current asset escrow quickbooks

When you do it this way, you will have the correct balance for your escrow. (If it were a liability account, it would show a negative balance).

transactions by account

At the end of the year, you can record a Journal Entry for your total taxes paid from the escrow account, making sure to also record classes in all the line items.

pay property taxes from escrow quickbooks

It is likely you would actually have several line items on this journal entry. One for each property. You have a choice to also create sub-accounts for each property under the escrow account. Generally that is not needed, but if you want it is an option for more reporting granularity.

Like what you’re reading? Come back to LandlordAccounting.com’s blog or sign up to the e-course on landlording in QuickBooks. Order our full QuickBooks for landlords training today.

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Debits and Credits for Landlords in QuickBooks

When you’re a busy landlord using QuickBooks, you may just want to use QuickBooks and not have to think about journal entries, debits, or credits. And, generally the way we teach things, you can do that. However, sometimes it is very useful to think about transactions as Debits and Credits.

“Accounts” are just a collection of transactions that sum up to give a current balance. There are always two kinds of transactions that come into play: a debit or a credit. In the image above, you can see the shorthand notation used, a “T-account.” where debits are on the left and credits on the right.

It depends on the account type if a debit increases or decreases the balance

This is just the way accounting works. A cash account is an assets, and they increase with a debit; but liability accounts increase with a credit.

cash and liability T-Account quickbooks

The example transaction below shows the two accounts involved in creating a loan. It increases your cash, and increases your liabilities.

cash and liability T-Account example deposit a loan

In any given transaction the sum of all debits must equal the sum of all credits. Here 500 equals 500, perfect.

In QuickBooks for Mac, the Journal Entry would look like this:
mac journal entry

Or for Windows, it would look like this:general journal short term loan windows

The equivalent could also be a deposit like this. It is not a Journal Entry directly, but it creates one behind the scenes.
quickbooks make deposit mac

You can verify the deposit creates the equivalent Journal Entry by opening up the Petty Cash register and highlighting the transaction. Then click Reports > Transaction Journal. In the mac version the following opens up. It’s equivalent for windows or online.
transaction journal

Use this chart to help you remember if a Debit or Credit increases each account type’s balance.

Extracted from page 23 of our training guide, the below graphic is a quick reference when you need to make a Journal Entry. Consult it to review which account increases by a credit and which by a debit.

debits and credits T-Accounts quick reference

Read more about this is our free debits and credits excerpt from the eBook.

Leave a comment with more details of what you want to learn about, or order our full training today.

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Opening Balance Equity Account Explained

opening balance equity quickbooks Opening Balance Equity is an account that QuickBooks automatically creates under certain circumstances, most commonly when creating a new account and setting an opening balance.

How does Opening Balance Equity get a balance?

The following screenshot someone created a new checking account and set the opening balance here. That seems tempting, but it just defers the real work. (Later you’ll need to zero out Opening Balance Equity and record the actual account that gave this new account the opening balance.) The money came from somewhere else, so read below for the preferable way to enter all opening balances.

new account creates opening balance equity

It is an equity account, which means it sits alongside Owners Equity, Retained Earnings, Capital Stock, etc. You can see the current balance by looking in the Chart of Accounts, or click Reports > Company & Financials > Balance Sheet Standard.

opening balance equity balance sheet report

When Opening Balance Equity has a non-zero balance, you need your accountant to make end-of-year adjustments into other balance sheet accounts and zero it out.

How do you adjust Opening Balance Equity to zero?

It could be as simple as a two line item journal entry from Opening Balance Equity to the actual balance sheet account that “funded” the opening bank account balance. Generally, it is one journal entry, just sometimes many accounts are involved.

Other times it is not that simple. There may be multiple sources of the Opening Balance Equity balance. And it takes your accountant’s help to correctly allocate them to the right accounts depending on which owner contributed them and whether they happened in the current, or a prior, year.

If you only entered the beginning bank balance during the set up of the bank account in the chart of accounts, you may have a simple fix. Quickbooks automatically offsets the amount in the Opening Balance Equity account. Since the beginning amount is generally from prior period activity, do a Journal Entry to retained earning to zero out the Opening Balance Equity. It could be that simple. Or, it could need to go to the member’s Equity account, or split among several owners.

Recommended steps for creating a new company file, preventing any Opening Balance Equity.

Thanks to fellow QuickBooks ProAdvisor Laura D. for sharing what she does with a new company file and existing data:

  1. If you have an accurate trial balance from a previous month/year, enter it as one journal entry. (Do not enter any opening balances when setting up new accounts in the chart of accounts.)
  2. Start your journal entry with a blank line.
  3. For the Checking account, enter only the reconciled bank statement amount in that journal entry.
  4. Enter all other Balance Sheet accounts except Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.
  5. Enter your Profit & Loss accounts.
    1. If you want your income/expenses by class, you can enter each year-end amount on a separate line in order to attach the class to it. (Following our training, you will want to do this for each property’s class).
    2. If you want your income/expenses by job, you can enter each year-end amount on a separate line in order to attach the job name to it. (As landlords, you don’t want to do this).
  6. Let the variance hit Opening Balance Equity.
  7. Then, enter any outstanding checks/deposits and hit Opening Balance Equity. (Use the write checks/make deposits windows).
  8. Then, enter Unpaid Bills and Open Invoices, one at a time with the vendor/customer name, offsetting Opening Balance Equity. (Use the enter bills/create invoices windows – you will have to set up an item which points to Opening Balance Equity for the invoices).
  9. When you complete these three steps, your Opening Balance Equity should be zero.

This will give you the detail of outstanding checks/deposits so that you can reconcile next month’s bank statement.

This, also, will give you an accurate A/P and A/R with enough detail to move forward in paying bills and receiving payments.

Hopefully, the LandlordAccounting.com blog is helpful to you. Read more, or order our full training for Landlords in QuickBooks today.

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How to convert a Tenant as a Customer into a Job in QuickBooks

We recently recommended entering Properties as Customers and Tenants as Jobs. What if you have an existing company file where your tenants were customers? Read on to learn how to convert those customers (tenants) into jobs without losing historical transaction information.

The secret is in dragging and dropping the tenant (currently as a customer) under a new customer (which you have to create, which is the job).

Here’s a video, or read on for picture instructions:


Open the Customer center. Here we have a customer “My Existing Tenant” that we want to make a job. We also created a new customer that will represent the property. In the end we want the old tenant to become a job under the new customer (property).

convert customer to job - 1

Look for the diamond next to each row in the list. Click the diamond and drag it to the right.
convert customer to job - 2

That’s it. You can double click and edit the name of the job if you wish. Now you moved the existing customer into a job under the new property (customer). This is helpful if you bought our training and are migrating an old company file into using our best practices.

convert customer to job - 3 done

Hopefully this helped. Read more from Landlord Accounting’s blog, or order the full guide now.

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Tenants as Customers or Jobs in QuickBooks?

quickbooks tenant customer or job

How do you enter tenants in QB’s?

In our training, we recommend you set your tenants up as Jobs in QuickBooks. Properties are Customers. If you have several tenants that pay separately, you can create multiple Jobs under one property (Customer), and then memorize independent invoices for each of them and ‘receive payments’ for each.

 

Following our recommendation, you gain these benefits:

  • This gives you a significant organizational simplification within your QuickBooks company.
  • Doing it this way makes for automatic, at-a-glance, rent-rolls. You can see vacant properties, overdue tenants, and everything in a “rent roll” at a glance. No report needed.
  • It reminds you of a tenant’s location (which is hard when you have dozens of tenants, and you find yourself thinking of things in term of units/buildings rather than tenant names). You also can search by name or property within the list, as shown below.

In the example below (from our training company file with 12 months of sample real estate transactions) you can see three tenants that share a unit. None of the tenants owe any money, if they did the current amount due would appear in the Balance Total column.

quickbooks tenant as customer or job

If you have a large multiunit apartment building, you have the option of having the Customer as the property, Jobs as each unit, and Sub-Jobs as each tenant. Or, you can suffix (or prefix) each tenant (Job) with the unit they belong in, such as “Lee,Jake[A]”

Read the related article: How to convert a Tenant as a Customer into a Job in QuickBooks.

Find this helpful?  Want to learn more about QuickBooks and landlording? Read LandlordAccounting’s blog Or, order our training today and become an expert tonight.
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Calculate Cap Rate in QuickBooks

calculate the cap rate for landlords in quickbooks Calculating Cap Rate (Capitalization Rate) for real estate investments is straightforward. We previously explained cap rate for real estate investors and landlords. Recall that Cap Rate = Net Operating Income / Value.

Here’s how you calculate the Capitalization Rate for one of your rental properties in QuickBooks. This uses the Sample Data File included in our training course.

Step 1. Find the value of your property. Check the Chart of Accounts for the property’s value. Since we keep depreciation in a separate contra-account, you can grab the value that you see without adjustment. Here we will compute the cap rate for a duplex, 3304 Covenant.

The value is $90,000.

Step 2. Go to the Reports menu and choose the LandlordAccounting.com memorized reports menu. Choose profit and loss by class and filter to only show the 3304 class and sub-classes.

The Net Adjusted Income for this property is $8,362.57.

Step 3. Calculate the Cap Rate. In our example that is $8,362.57 / $90,000 = 9.3%.

Questions? Contact us, or leave a comment below. Want to quick start your real estate investing? Purchase our full training today, with a money back guarantee.

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Return to the blog for more articles on QuickBooks landlord accounting and real estate investing.

How to Import the Sample Company and Template File (QuickBooks Online Instructions)

Previously, we explained for Windows and Mac users how to import the training files you purchased. Now, we break it down for users of the Online versions of QuickBooks.

Step 1. Email us requesting the online edition data files. They are not currently in the members only area because most customers still use the desktop versions of QuickBooks.

Due to QuickBooks Online limitations, you must use Windows and Internet Explorer for importing. Read more about how to work around this if you only have a Mac.

Step 2. Log into QuickBooks Online. It is important to note that having multiple online company files requires multiple subscriptions. With only one subscription, you can create and delete many company files, trying new things each time. But, you may only have one active company at a time, and delete any existing company file so you can import the sample company.

If you must delete an existing company file, here’s how:

Log into your old company and click the dropdown in the top right. Go to My Apps.
go to my apps to cancel quickbooks online to create a new company file

Go to the Manage My Apps tab and click Cancel subscription.
confirm to cancel quickbooks online to create a new company file.jpg
Confirm you want to do this.
Cancel Subscription - YourCompany, LLC Sample Company File - QuickBooks Online Essentials-1

Then go to http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/ to sign up for a new account, at whichever cost level you want. (Try the free trial to learn if it will work for you.) For more help deleting and creating a new company, read this. (If you are paying, you won’t have to pay any more because this new account will replace your previous account).

Step 3. Logged into a brand new QuickBooks online company file, choose to Import QuickBooks Desktop Data.

import quickbooks desktop data

Upload the the special online edition file that we gave you. When prompted, if you want to view sample transactions, choose to import everything, if you want a template just import the lists.

You may need to wait a short while once you imported the file before it is available to use. Check for an email from QuickBooks when your file is ready. When it is imported (it only took a few minutes for us), explore all of the data and transactions you now have.

quickbooks online after landlordaccounting import

When it is time for you to create a real company file, you can erase all this data, or go through the import process again. Questions about landlording and QuickBooks? Contact us, we’re glad to chat.

Want to start learning today with our custom landlording training? You can buy our full training with hundreds of pictures explaining everything.

Cash on Cash Return Calculation for Landlords

Cash on Cash Return = Annual Pre-Tax Cash Flow divided by the Total Cash Invested

Example: You purchase a $200K rental property for 30% down plus $4K in closing costs. You invest $10K cash in improvements. After expenses, your first year’s pre-tax cash flow is $12K. The Cash on Cash Return would be $12,000 / $74,000 = 16%.

How do you use it?

Cash on Cash return is one of the simplest and most versatile ways to evaluate real estate properties. You can quickly determine if an investment is performing favorably, as well as trying to detect if a property for sale is underpriced. (See also our cap rate blog post).

Calculating Pre-Tax Cash Flow

  1. Sum the annual income including rent, fees, laundry, parking, everything.
  2. Leave an allowance for vacancies.
  3. Subtract expected cash outlays, such as expenses (repairs, interest expense) and the mortgage payment.

If cash is extracted from a property, through a refinancing for instance, don’t include that cash in the annual cash flow, because that return of capital is not income and it would misleadingly inflate your rate of return.

Carefully Consider the Following

Cash on cash return is based on before-tax cash flow, so it does not consider the investor’s tax circumstances (although it could become more favorable after the tax saving depreciation expense is considered).

Cash on cash return also ignores property value appreciation.

It ignores what investments your cash flow could be reinvested in, thus neglecting the effects of compound interest.

How to calculate Cash on Cash Return in QuickBooks

quickbooks for landlords instructional training - cash on cash returnIf you are doing a forward looking calculation, you will not have income information about that transaction in QuickBooks, so you can do it all on paper or in Excel. (Perhaps basing your vacancies and expenses on actual comparable numbers, though.) If you have entered the purchase price already, you can calculate this with a few clicks and a simple calculator. To learn more (quickly), invest in our QuickBooks training for landlords and property managers today.

See pricing information for QuickBooks training for Real EstateEverything is 100% guaranteed and you can read other investors testimonials ♥ for more information.

If you enjoyed this, also read about the Cap Rate explained for Landlords and Real Estate Investors or the rest of our landlording blog.