There are an estimated 11 million real estate investors in the U.S., according to IRS data. However, not all of them chose to be a real estate investor. Some accidentally became investors due to market conditions.
"There are people who have bought property for flipping and now they're kind of stuck with them and in some markets they can rent them," says Narinder Sandhu, founder of T-ReX Global.
It's this group of people that could be losing money, especially if they aren't aware of how best to manage their real estate investment.
"One of the most important things in real estate investment is taking advantage of all of the tax benefits that are available to [investors] and the write-offs," says Sandhu.
Sandhu says that real estate has numerous tax benefits, but many investors miss out on the tax-saving advantages because they are not prepared to properly track their investment.
"In order to take advantage of all those benefits you really have to track your income and expenses," says Sandhu.
His company T-ReX Global was started to help real estate investors not lose out on money. The former VP of the Small Business Division at Intuit (The makers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax) says he saw a niche market that needed help.
"It's a very simple application. It's like Quicken but is designed specifically for real estate investors and it's an online application whereas Quicken has been a desktop application," says Sandhu.
The program helps investors make sure they don't miss out on money-saving opportunities. "It allows you to track your income. It also gives you a lot of write-offs that most people miss," says Sandhu.
Sandhu says the program takes very little time to get started and only minutes each month to track your property's income and expenses. Another added benefit is that the program produces a rental property Schedule E form. For more details visit, trexglobal.com.
Sandhu says no matter which program you use to manage your real estate investment you should look at these five areas to make sure that you're not losing money on your real estate investment.
- Take advantage of depreciation deductions. "You can set up depreciation expense in such a way that you can either write-off all the value over 27.5 years or you can go in and look at the assets within the property that are short-life [depreciation expenses]," says Sandhu. Basically, the IRS allows real estate investors to choose to use an accelerated depreciation method which can result in costs being recovered at twice the rate applicable to the real estate property if the 27.5-plus-year deduction were used. "IRS statistics show that only 13 percent of investors take advantage of the short-life [depreciation expenses]," says Sandhu.
- Keep track of travel to property. "Make sure you have all the accounting for that so that your travel to and from your property can be a written-off," says Sandhu.
- Tax preparation. "Most people don't realize that the cost for the preparation for the Schedule E, which is the rental property form that you have to fill out, can be written off.
- Document repairs versus improvements. "Repairs are something that if you go in [to your rental property] and fix it, it can then be expensed in the same year," says Sandhu.
- Casualty or damage to property. Sandhu says, "If there has been rain and a storm came in and blew your fence away, there's a casualty expense that you can write-off that year.