Landlord Accounting and Bookkeeping

Software vs. Excel: What’s best for landlords?

By May 14, 2019 No Comments

Spreadsheets for Landlords vs. Software

Hello, Excel. Look at you with your hundreds of columns and fancy mathematical equations. Why do you look so professional when you’re NOT really built to accommodate the many moving parts of a landlord’s job

Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE EXCEL. Pivot Tables are my jam. But, when it comes to tracking everything for our rental portfolio? Excel wasn’t cutting it. In fact, it was probably costing me time and increasing my stress-related computer rage.

If you’re like me, you might justify using spreadsheets because you only have a small rent roll, or because it’s what your predecessors used, or because you think that using software would be costly and just not worth it.

Well, here’s why I think it might be time to move on from Excel….

It’s not intuitive:

While it’s great for manually typing data into tiny rectangles, spreadsheets are not made for automatically generating invoices that you can print or email your tenants, maintenance techs or suppliers. Due to the lack of a central database with multiple components, you enter your data into one spreadsheet, then in another for tenant records, then another for receipt records, etc. Pain. In. The. Ass! So while it’s easy to create a spreadsheet, trying to actually turn it into a fully operational rental portfolio accounting tool is not (unless you’re some spreadsheet wizard…which I was not).

Your audit trail is a mess

If multiple people (ie your accountant) are accessing different spreadsheets, you are unable to track who has made changes, if data has been deleted, or if anyone is shifting numbers around. Worse thing is, if you save your work on your computer and it crashes, you’re more than likely to crash out of horror as well.

Using spreadsheets for tasks that they weren’t built for is a long and windy path to go down. We live in a time where there are simple online tools that can help with correctly managing your rental portfolio for FREE. Regardless of whether you own 1 or 1,000 properties (that’s $5 less than a latte made by your local hipster who can draw a flower using its espresso & heated dairy ingredients). Tools that after the click of your mouse, can market your properties, distribute applications, collect rent, communicate with tenants, disburse multiple contacts, store all of your accounting data securely online, track who has made changes and generate comprehensive reports.

Those are just my thoughts. But for me, as my portfolio grows, I don’t want to waste waste hours managing everything with a clunky spreadsheet. The software route was for me. It might not be for you. But, a simple Google search will connect you with the top options in your local area. If you’re in the Twin Cities, ZenLord Pro was built specifically for Minnesota Landlords & is worth investigating.