Industry Leaders Offer Their Take on Real Estate Pinch

The Business Journal asked the top real estate accountants in Los Angeles about the state of their field and what they saw as the reasons behind the sudden personnel crunch.

Christopher Tower

Partner and Director of Real Estate Services, Western Region

BDO Seidman LLP

“There aren’t too many firms that specialize in real estate since Kenneth Laventhal was bought by Ernst & Young, so there’s definitely a shortage of top people. My real estate practice has doubled in the past few years because I’m getting clients from the Big 4 accounting firms that can’t do the work because they’re swamped with work from Fortune 500 firms.”

Michael Gillmore

Partner, Area Industry Leader, Real Estate, Hospitality and Construction

Co-director, National Homebuilder practice

Ernst & Young LLP

“Housing is my sweet spot. We audit 12 of the 15 largest homebuilders in the U.S., including KB Home. Real estate is a solid bricks-and-mortar industry and we’re seeing some very aggressive private investors out there that are willing to pay very high prices for real estate in Los Angeles.”

Scott Farb

Managing Principal

Gumbiner Savett Inc.

“I would venture to say that demand for real estate accountants is unprecedented, I’ve never seen it at this level before. And the reason is that both private and institutional investors are honing in on Los Angeles. There are a lot of funds buying real estate as an asset class with a large volume of activity and more complexities.”

John Davis

Lead Partner for Real Estate Accounting


“I think Sarbanes Oxley has added to the demand for accountants but it is significantly different for real estate companies than for other industries. There are more changes to the rules than there have been in the past, so they’re all complicated, they take time, and they require skilled people.”

Philip Sutton

Real Estate tax partner in Los Angeles

Pricewaterhouse-Coopers LLP

“On the tax or audit side, it’s a dynamic regulatory environment right now that is causing people to really pick up the pace. In a way, it sort of levels the playing field, because everyone is dealing with a new set of rules together.”

Harvey Bookstein



“Nearly all of our clients are entrepreneurs, so we don’t have to deal with public companies. To be successful in real estate, you have to find the right general partner, but I think you have to be very careful, because the little guy is always the one that gets hurt.”

Doug McEachern

Managing Partner, Pacific Southwest Real Estate

Deloitte & Touche LLP

“There’s been an increase in demand not just in real estate but in corporate America. There’s more time being spent these days on accounting, documentation and understanding what’s going on, and there is concern that these are issues that do not generate revenue for a company.”

Tom O’Rourke

Real Estate Tax Partner

Haskell & White LLP

“You have so few accountants that are available to do the work, but legislation doubled the work load in a year. So you could feast on that and work like a crazy person for a year, but next year, the firm would have returning accountants on their team.”

Ernest Miranda


Squar Milner Miranda & Williamson LLP

“Real estate as an industry really requires more of a specialized expertise. The real estate industry also is so alluring and it’s been a hot market for the past five years, that you see people going into the mortgage industry or homebuilding, but
not accounting.”