Clever Commissions: Structuring Cash Flow As A Top Producing Real Estate Agent

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Clever Commissions: Structuring Cash Flow As A Top Producing Real Estate Agent

Leland Gross CFP® EA | May 6, 2024

Clever Commissions: Structuring Cash Flow As A Top Producing Real Estate Agent

When starting out in real estate, managing finances can often feel as complex as closing your first big sale. However, establishing a solid financial foundation can significantly ease this complexity, particularly through thoughtful cash flow management. Here's a strategy to consider which involves setting up an LLC and using two separate business bank accounts—one for operating expenses and another for taxes.

Step 1: Establish an LLC

Creating a Limited Liability Company (LLC) can offer you personal liability protection, separating your personal assets from your business debts. Additionally, an LLC can provide tax benefits, allowing more flexibility in how you are taxed.

Step 2: Open Two Business Bank Accounts

Once your LLC is set up, open two distinct bank accounts:

Operating Account: This is where you'll deposit the commissions you earn. It's used to cover business expenses such as marketing, office supplies, and any other overhead costs.

Tax Account: This account is crucial for managing your tax liability. Because real estate agents are typically not subject to tax withholding by employers, setting aside a portion of each commission for taxes is essential to avoid surprises during tax season.

Step 3: Set Aside Money for Taxes

It's recommended to allocate a fixed percentage of each commission to your tax account. The exact percentage will depend on your tax bracket, which might be higher given the typically fluctuating income of real estate agents. Consult with a tax professional to determine the right percentage based on your expected annual income.

Step 4: Schedule Quarterly Tax Payments

The IRS requires self-employed individuals to make estimated quarterly tax payments. Use the funds in your tax account to make these payments. Staying consistent with these payments can help you avoid penalties and manage your cash flow better throughout the year.

Step 5: Pay Yourself

After setting aside money for taxes and business expenses, compensate yourself by transferring money from the operating account to your personal account. This is your income for personal expenses. It’s important to be disciplined about how much you pay yourself, keeping in mind your monthly budget and personal financial goals.

Additional Tips for Managing Finances in Real Estate

Emergency Fund: Real estate income can be unpredictable. Building an emergency fund can provide a financial buffer during slower months.

Invest in Professional Advice: Partnering with a financial advisor who understands the unique challenges of real estate professionals can be invaluable. They can help you optimize your financial planning and ensure that you are making the most of your hard-earned money​​.

Retirement Planning: Don’t overlook retirement. Consider setting up a retirement account like a Solo 401(k) or SEP IRA, where you can save a portion of your income tax-deferred or potentially tax-free in the case of a Roth IRA​​.

By following these steps and regularly reviewing your financial strategy with a professional, you can create a stable financial environment that supports both your business's growth and your personal financial health. This structure not only simplifies managing your finances but also sets you up for long-term success in the competitive real estate market.