How do real estate agents track their expense receipts?

Asked by Trulia Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FL Wed Nov 7, 2012

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Scpenner@yah…, Home Buyer,
Mon Oct 21, 2013
Here is my process, which is very simple and has been working perfectly for me:

1. All receipts and invoices from my wallet, and mail, go to my "In Basket"
2. Log all my in-basket receipts & paperwork a few times per month into my bookkeeping software.
3. Put all logged receipts into a 6" x 9" envelope (one envelope per month).
4. Once I finish a month, I put that envelope into a box for that year.

So here is a supply list:
* CURRENT IN-BASKET: 1 letter sized "in basket" for my office; should not be too big, such as a box, etc.. .otherwise, you will be tempted to just let it pile up for a long time and then you will have a big job.

* MONTHLY ENVELOPES: plain 6" x 9" envelopes you can buy at any stationary store; just buy a box of them, they are very cheap and you will not run out for a few years. I always use a marker and write the "month' and "year" on the outside. Also, if you do a special project or go on a vacation, I would use a separate envelope, and label it like, "House Reno 20XX" etc.. or 'Trip to Hawaii 20XX".

* YEARLY FILE BOX: just a regular cardboard file box that you buy at a stationary store is perfect... then just write the year on the outside. Put all processed paperwork, monthly receipt envelopes, etc into that box after it is processed and dealt with. No sense in it piling up in your desk drawers or filing cabinets.... I find once it is this box, you can easily carry it out after the year is done and it is all cleaned up. No need to dig around your cabinets and desk for paperwork.

* BOOKKEEPING SOFTWARE: stay away from complicated accounting and bookkeeping software. Keep things simple, no fluff. The best accounting program for real estate agents I've seen is from All you want is a simple way to create income and expense statement so you can see where your money goes and do your taxes each year, that is it.

* MUSIC: ... I really do not enjoy doing bookwork, so find something to help make it enjoyable. Play some background music, have your favorite beverage, etc... and remember DO NOT LET IT PILE UP.. or you will definitely not find it enjoyable.

Hope that helps!
9 votes
Great program that you are doing for organizing and staying on top of the never ending plethora of receipts in our industry. I am going to implement this asap.
Flag Thu Feb 27, 2014
Terry Farnsw…, Agent, Lisle, IL
Thu Nov 8, 2012
If you have a smartphone - download an app called Expensify.

You can snap pictures and save all your receipts, track your milage, etc. It lets you save and print out all the information in one concise, detailed document.

Hope that helps!
6 votes
Terry--thanks for the great tip--I just downloaded it to my phone!
Flag Wed Aug 27, 2014
Hi Terry

thanks for that info. I will check it out.
Flag Mon Aug 25, 2014
Awesome info on Expensify....... I needed this :)
Flag Mon Aug 25, 2014
Thanks for the Expensify tip Terry! It looks like a very useful program and App.
Flag Fri Nov 9, 2012
Team Forss R…, Agent, Temecula, CA
Fri Nov 23, 2012
We charge everything to our business credit card. Not the best solution perhaps but at least all the expenses are all there.
3 votes
Steve, Agent, Grand Blanc Township, MI
Sun Aug 24, 2014
Try I've heard a lot of good things about them. They make an accounting software for real estate agents. You can track your expenses, commissions, etc.
2 votes
Tammy Hayes, Agent, Port Charlotte, FL
Sun Aug 24, 2014
I created my own spreadsheet using Excel.
1 vote
I'm sure they use bookkeeping services, or do it themselves. It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but with a bookkeeping service, it's made a lot easier. It really helps make things easier.
Flag Fri Jan 9, 2015
Antonio Sanc…, Agent, Bronx, NY
Tue Oct 22, 2013

What I learned is that is very hard but if you open one credit card or debit card and set it aside only for real estate expenses you should be able to track all your expenses their.

Antonio Sanchez
Exit Realty Search
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
3928 E. Tremont Avenue
CELL: 347-320-0673
FAX:    347-202-4966
1 vote
Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Wed Nov 7, 2012
Make copies of all receipts..keep two files one for the originals and one for the copies.

You should alsos lable your receipts for example:

Gas, meals, entertainment, marketing, continues education ect.

Keep in mind, you should have a recipt for EVERYTHING you plan to list as an expense on your tax return.

Kawain Payne, Realtor
1 vote
Jeremy, Home Buyer, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Mon Oct 10, 2016
Hey, this is Jeremy, CEO of BrokerSumo. We have an accounting product specifically designed for real estate agents. Similar to Quickbooks but designed for real estate agents it allows syncing of your bank account info, categorizing your income and expenses, transaction pipeline tracking, lead conversion tracking, accounting reports and more. You can find it at
0 votes
QB4RealEsta…, Other Pro, Austin, TX
Sun May 31, 2015
I have produced a system specific to the needs of a real estate agent looking for assistance with all of their Bookkeeping needs utilizing QuickBooks. The system contains a workbook, video training modules and a customized QuickBooks Company File. More information can be found on my website:
0 votes
Gary Hulett…, , Aurora, CO
Thu Sep 18, 2014
Real Estate agents have very unique financial needs than the more stable hourly, salary employees. Many agents are paid as 1099 independent contractors. This means keeping track of your finances is not only useful for your personal needs, but very important for tax purposes. I use and recommend Quickbooks online which has a low cost and Wave Apps which is free. Both applications are easy to use and can help you track personal and business expenses.

Gary L Hulett CPA
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Englewood, CO
Mon Aug 25, 2014
Lots of good suggestions for apps, programs. I find the most important thing, like many have mentioned, is just to have a system for tracking expenses and stick to it. Regardless of how you input the info, just make sure it's getting done so you're not overwhelmed come tax time!
0 votes
Bev West, Agent, Greeley, CO
Mon Aug 25, 2014
I have used QuickBooks for years and it works well for me.
0 votes
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Tue Oct 22, 2013
For the most part I charge everything to a business credit card...but pay it off every month.
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Englewood, CO
Tue Oct 22, 2013
All of the systems and programs mentioned are great - you just have to find out which one works for you. By far the best thing I did was sit down with my accountant BEFORE it was time to file (years ago) and go over the things that I needed to be tracking. I think where a lot of people derail is keeping the wrong receipts and/or not keeping the right ones (though it's always better to err on the side of having too much information than not enough).
0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Tue Oct 22, 2013
I update my expense reporting system and get new Puma running shoes through the same activity.
However, Expensify does look appealing.
0 votes
Robert DiAlb…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Tue Oct 22, 2013
Great question and excellent answers. Thanks for posting.
0 votes
Juan Noriega, Agent, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Tue Dec 18, 2012
Buy Quickbooks Pro

But the neat scanner, it is worth under $500, it's a life saver, it will synk and match receips to information with your facbook. this will help you eliminate the boxes full of receipts at the office.
0 votes
Chad Gray, Agent, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Thu Nov 22, 2012
Trulia-initiated question.
0 votes
Antonio Vega…, Agent, Saint Cloud, FL
Thu Nov 8, 2012
All good answers so far.

I allocate by date on a spreadsheet to categories such as:
Licenses and association dues,
Promotions and supplies,
Postage, phone, internet
Education, meals and travel
Banking fees, accountant fees,

But the most important part for a good expense report to work is to be incorporated as an agent.
0 votes
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Thu Nov 8, 2012
I try to put everything on one business credit card so I have everything in one place when it comes time to do my taxes.
0 votes
Chad Gray, Agent, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Thu Nov 8, 2012
There are a few ways real estate agents track their expenses. Some of the more popular options include:

1. Using accounting software like Quickbooks or Sage.

2. Creating an Excel spreadsheet.

3. Collecting receipts and giving them to an accounting professional.

I hope this is helpful!

Chad Gray PA, Realtor
Luxury Living Fort Lauderdale
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

100% of clients rated our service as "EXCELLENT"!
0 votes
peter chang, Agent, brooklyn, NY
Wed Nov 7, 2012
save your receipts and have them ready for tax season ?Anything relating to work like gas,food,insurance can be written off.
0 votes
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