If you are a realtor (real estate agent) in North America, this package that I put together for you might save you a bunch of time and money because it’s *totally free*.
First, credit where credit is due:
1. The developers of the free and open GnuCash (www.gnucash.org). These folks have poured their time and money into making a great and very robust accounting software. Make sure, when finances able, to put some $$ back their way if you like it like I do.
2. Ubuntu: Gnucash was just one free click away from the Ubuntu software center which is where I found it initially. Thanks to the Ubuntu community for making so many pieces of software available so easily.
3. I took the chart of accounts example from realtor chart of accounts.
How I set this up
Just so you know, all I did was take the chart of accounts above and manually enter it up and save the resulting file. Regrettably I did not have time to customize it further and I can see that there are definitely other accounts that need to be added but this will definitely get you started, and some need to be deleted as well because they were residual from the default install of GnuCash. So, once you open it up, make sure you go through the whole chart of accounts and add in things and delete things that might be irrelevant or doubled. It’s easy to identify the ones that I added because they are under the parent categories that look like this:
64000-64999 Name of Main Category
I will also admit that I am not a master of Gnucash but I remember it being pretty simple and very robust so that you could just export the file to your accountant at the end of the year.
I hope this helps you and if you could be so kind as to take this gnucash file (.gnucash) and tweak it even further for the rest of real estate community that would be much appreciate it. I will then blog it out again with update and give you credit.
How to get started:
- Download Gnucash free accounting software (easy if you are on Ubuntu) for your system from www.gnucash.org. At the time of this post the site has problems so you may have to search alternative download site if this is the case…
- Download this file–> gnucash-realtor-template-v1.gnucash <–to your computer
- Open up this file with gnucash
Here are some snippets of information that should help both tenants and agents. When a property is for sale, there are some rules that need to be followed and some in particular are more relevant to common real estate transactions involving tenants.
First here is a link to the BC government tenancy guide page
Next, here is the actual PDF guide for saving in case it changes location above for whatever reason:
Now, here are the snippets that I thought are pretty important to have a firm grasp of.
From Residential Tenancy Act Guide
- The tenancy agreement is a fixed term that specifies the tenant will move out at the end of the term
- The tenant or landlord gives notice to end the tenancy in accordance with the law
- The tenancy agreement is frustrated by circumstances beyond the landlord or tenant’s control
- The tenant move outs or abandons the rental unit
- The landlord is granted an order by the RTB
- The tenant and landlord mutually agree in writing to end the tenancy
- By leaving a copy with the tenant or at the tenant’s residence with an adult who appar ently resides with the person. The notice is considered served the same day
- By leaving a copy in a mail box or mail slot for the address at which the tenant resides. The notice is considered served three full days later
- By attaching a copy to a door or other conspicuous place at the address at which the tenant resides. The notice is considered served three full days later
- By transmitting a copy to a fax number provided as an address for service by the tenant. The notice is considered served three full days later
- By sending a copy by ordinary mail or registered mail to the address at which the tenant resides or to a forwarding address provided by the tenant. The notice is considered served five full days after mailing
- As ordered by the RTB
- Demolishing the rental unit or doing major renovations that require the building or rental unit be empty for the work to be done. When possible, renovations should be done without evicting the tenant. For example, if the renovations require the unit to be vacant for a short period, the tenant could be relocated and later return to the unit
- Converting the rental unit to a strata property unit, a non-profit co-operative or society, or a not-for-profit housing co-operative under the Cooperative Association Act
- Converting the rental unit for non-residential use, such as a shop
- Converting the rental unit into a caretaker’s premises The landlord must have all required government permits and approvals in place before issuing the notice for any of the above reasons.
It’s time to call a spade a spade.
The Real Estate Council of BC talks about the responsibility of real estate agents here. Scanning down the page there is a section dedicated to ‘fiduciary duty’. This term sound big but it’s pretty simple. Lawyers have it, too. They have to look out for the best interests of their clients and treat them in a certain way or they are in breach of that fiduciary duty. For a better definition, and an interesting historical quick read, check out the wiki page on the topic .
On the RECBC page, there is one subsections of the Fiduciary section that need to be looked at asap. That is, specifically: ‘Not misuse confidential information’ (#16).
Many people have a blase view on personal privacy and protection of their information. That’s fine. It’s your right to strip naked and change in front of your window with the curtain open at night, but don’t blame anyone when creepsters are hanging around with binoculars. In the same way, go ahead and use Facebook, Google (ie. Gmail), and Linkedin for your personal life and don’t blame anyone when your entire life is hacked or strangely creepy advertisements for dandruff control or marriage counseling start showing up on digital advertising screens when you step in elevators around town. That’s your choice.
But it’s *not* your choice if you are a real estate agent. If you expose your client’s info (like mine) to a third party, I can take your house-flipping hindquarters to court for violation of fiduciary duty and I have good reason to believe I would make a strong case and win and claim some damages.
“I would never do such a thing to my client.” Says Ms. Realtor.
I’m sitting at my desk right now looking at a Realtor’s calendar. A nice man he was. He did a good enough job. Right there on the calendar is his email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Violation! All of his clients should go after him including myself.
But how did he violate the fiduciary relationship, you ask?
By using gmail to do business emails.
Shocked at my statement? Don’t be. Read this.
So if you work in a profession where you are under fiduciary law, you better abandon these email servers and any other piece of technology that syncs back to the info-scanning motherships of the world or you may be in a world of legal hurt in the next few years.