"Accounting and Control in real estate is bigger than just number crunching"
Accounting and control personnel are regularly involved in either auditing or tax with regard to the business operations of a real estate company. It is their responsibility to maintain records of current financial operations, maintain compliance, and review the viability of new ventures with regard to accounting and tax implications. Specifically, a controller is a more senior position and involves key oversight and decision making over business decisions on a more strategic level than a staff accountant would be asked to provide. A well-functioning accounting and control staff will not only keep the books in order, but will be a strategic resource for maximizing profits through proper financial structure.
Information on this page provided courtesy of Cornell University Baker Program in Real Estate
Masters Degree in Accounting, Tax, Law, or MBA preferred
CPA: Certified Public Accountant (requirements to sit for the state board exam vary by state)
CB: Certified Bookkeeper designation from AIPB
Strong analytical skills
Strong Financial Skills and Budgeting
Strong Bookkeeping Skills
Looking to the Future
Accounting and control is moving from the back office to the front office as the job function evolves into a more strategic position. Financial reporting, auditing, and tax will continue to be the backbone of the industry; however, accountants and controllers will begin to be brought in on more strategic business decisions. Tax shelters through depreciation, the handling of passive and active losses, and other accounting principles can provide a real estate developer or investor with significantly better financial outcomes from a project. Increased regulations and complex tax policies will require individuals to continually seek additional education through industry segments and accounting organizations. Proper financial structure and decision making by a controller can make or break the success of an investment. Politics and tax laws have major implications on real estate and an accountant with strong knowledge in how to leverage these to the benefit of the owner will always have a secure place in the real estate industry.