5 bookkeeping tips for independent estate agents

In this article, we discuss;

Keep separate records for each property you deal with
Don’t fall foul of VAT regulations
Put aside a regular time to go over the books – and stick to it!
Go digital
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Estelle Hardwick

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In this article:

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About Estelle Hardwick

Estelle is the Director of AMR, overseeing the Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Chatham branches. She makes sure that AMR provides exceptional support to each and every client.

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Estate agents’ ‘For Sale’ boards are a familiar sight along streets throughout the UK, and many of us regularly Google houses in our neighbourhood to check on both the prices and the interior décor of our neighbours!

There are a variety of major national chains with branches all over the country, but competing with these property behemoths are small independent estate agents, often with just one office, a small team and a wealth of experience of one specific locality.

Independent estate agents have to keep a multitude of detail about different houses and flats in their heads, and with no central admin function to take the bookkeeping out of their hands, it can be only too easy to let it slide amid a relentless round of viewing appointments and queries about property boundaries and energy performance certificates.

A small model of a white house surrounded by piles of coins

However, bookkeeping must be done to avoid major stress at the end of the financial year, not to mention penalties from HMRC.

Here are our five top tips for keeping abreast of your finances:

1. Keep separate records for each property you deal with

An agency is usually defined as a business providing a specific service, often as an intermediary between its clients and other entities. As such, you’ll be dealing with multiple clients and people wanting to view their houses at any one time. To reconcile the books at the end of the tax year, you’ll find it much easier to keep records of transactions and expenses separate for each property. It may also help with future budgeting, as you’ll gain a better understanding of how different properties and selling situations affect your cash flow.

2. Keep track of expenses

Small businesses can claim allowable expenses which can be offset against their tax liability, so, for example, if your turnover is £50K and your expenses are £10K you will only pay tax on £40K. Allowable expenses include:

  • Office costs such as phone bills – but be sure to separate business phone calls from personal calls
  • Travel costs for getting to and from viewings and maintenance of company vehicles
  • Insurance
  • Business premises expenses such as heating, lighting and business rates
  • Marketing costs such as setting up and running a website or sending out flyers
  • Training courses such as CPD instruction

3. Don’t fall foul of VAT regulations

Businesses are required to register for VAT if their taxable turnover exceeds the threshold of £90,000 a year. However, VAT on the property industry is slightly more complex, involving further calculations depending on the specific service which has been provided and the type of property or land which has been sold.

4. Put aside a regular time to go over the books – and stick to it!

After a busy day promoting the positive points of every possible type of dwelling, the last thing you will feel like is sitting down and going over the books. However, if you get into a regular habit, it will pay dividends in the long run. It’s a great deal worse to sit down to several month’s worth of bookkeeping in one go with a tax deadline approaching!

5. Go digital

It can make a huge difference to the amount of time you have to spend on bookkeeping if you get a bookkeeping software package such as Sage or Xero, and it will also tie in with HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative when it comes to your tax assessment. You can pay bills, sort your VAT return, work out expenses and calculate cash flow and profitability. With everything you need in one place, it makes tax compliance much less complicated.

At AMR Bookkeeping, we work regularly with estate agents, including independent businesses. We can take the weight off your shoulders and leave you free to concentrate on what you do best – selling property. If you need help with any aspect of bookkeeping or payroll, why not call our friendly and professional team? Complete our contact us form or call 01892 559480.

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Get in touch for a free, no obligation consultation

Find out how AMR Bookkeeping Solutions can provide the right support for your business, send us your details and one of our experts will get in touch with you without delay.

Alternatively, you are welcome to contact us by phone on 01892 559480

You can also pop into our offices in Tonbridge.