If you enjoy working in the real estate industry but don't want to be a real estate agent, a job as a property accountant could be right up your alley. A property accountant receives and records renters' payments, pays real estate taxes, keeps track of property maintenance expenditures and pays insurance premiums on behalf of owners. Interviewing for a job as a property accountant isn't difficult, as long as you focus on your detail-oriented strengths and stress your superior bean-counting skills.
Commercial real estate owners, leasing agencies and business owners have frequent financial obligations associated with their properties. As a result, accounting software is necessary to keep detailed records of all financial transactions. Expect an interview question such as "What experience do you have with accounting software?" or "What types of accounting software do you currently use?" Property owners might want a snapshot of their real estate income and expenses at any moment, and accounting software can help you create reports quickly and efficiently. Discuss all software programs you've used, even if some seem outdated. Some property owners don't care what software you use, as long as you have an organized method for tracking property-related income and outgo. Others will train you on their current accounting software programs.
Real Estate Taxes
Real estate tax laws change constantly, so the interviewer will likely ask how you keep up with new and updated laws. She might ask, "What publications do you read to stay current on real estate tax laws?" or "How frequently do you review property tax laws?" You don't have to spend your weekends in a law library, but you should keep up with current IRS publications and announcements. Property accountants must be knowledgeable on issues such as deductible expenses, insurance requirements, tenant contracts and taxation requirements on rental income.
You need bookkeeping skills to maintain accurate financial records. Otherwise, you might end up in the red at the end of the month and have to explain yourself to property owners. Expect an interview question such as "How do you use your bookkeeping skills to maintain records?" or "What experience do you have in accounts payable and accounts receivable?" Property accountants often pay vendors, such as utility companies, insurance companies and property managers, receive payments from tenants, reconcile bank statements, collect overdue rent, create financial reports and balance general ledgers, according to the Women in Commercial Real Estate's chapter in Nashville, Tenn. Strong bookkeeping skills will help you stay on a property owner's good side.
A hiring manager might ask general questions about your experiences. She might ask, "How many properties can you effectively manage at the same time?" or "Have you had any clients who were disappointed with your services?" Tailor your responses to shed the best light on your former experiences. You might say, "I always maintain a current workload that allows me to service all clients effectively" or "Communication is the key, so I report to all property owners on a weekly basis so we stay on the same page."
2016 Salary Information for Accountants and Auditors
Accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $68,150 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, accountants and auditors earned a 25th percentile salary of $53,240, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $90,670, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,397,700 people were employed in the U.S. as accountants and auditors.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images