The Best of the Tech Helpline: Thinking of Hiring a Virtual Assistant?

 Melissa Mazanec-Becker  |    July 09, 2018
Tech Helpline Virtual Assistant

It seems nearly all successful agents reach a point in their career where they‚Äôre ‚Äúalmost‚ÄĚ able to afford taking on an assistant. But it‚Äôs a big leap. You not only have to cover salary, but benefits too. Then there‚Äôs recruiting, interviewing, hiring and onboarding. Finally, you have to spend time training ‚ÄĒ and that could take a lot of time. Time you don‚Äôt have. Then there‚Äôs all the paperwork that comes with having an employee. This is why a lot of agents avoid this leap.

Yet, nearly every top producer who hired an assistant took a leap of faith. And the top producer never looked back. It was when their business growth began to explode. But not every agent can afford or would want to hire a full-time agent, even successful ones. Still, busy agents need help and shouldn’t be spending so much time on non-income-producing tasks.

Virtual assistants

As the internet emerged in the 1990s, a new kind of real estate assistant was born: a virtual assistant. Not an employee, but a contracted worker paid by the hour or a flat rate for a project. You typically wouldn’t even see or meet virtual workers as they were stationed remotely, usually working out of their homes. Email and phones kept them connected to agents they were contracted to help.

That’s still mostly true today, with a few differences. First, many virtual assistants are based overseas, commonly in India or the Philippines. That’s because hourly rates are more affordable at $7.50 to $12 per hour compared to the U.S.-based virtual assistants at $20 to $55 per hour.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know when contemplating hiring a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistant tasks

A virtual assistant can take over several tasks from your plate that will increase your productivity and profitability:

  • Enter and update property listings.
  • Update your contact management system.
  • Manage and prioritize your emails.
  • Respond to routine email requests.
  • Manage your calendar, book and confirm appointments, or send text reminders before a meeting.
  • Answer phone calls when you are meeting with clients, so no calls go to voicemail.
  • Handle your mailings.
  • Track your expenses to full-fledged bookkeeping.
  • Manage your marketing placements and tracking reports.
  • Assemble your CMAs.
  • Order inspections.
  • Manage your social media posts and tracking.
  • Schedule photographers and/or videographers.
  • Order installations of yard signs.
  • Create and order marketing materials, such as fliers or postcards.
  • Research leads and collect LinkedIn and Facebook information.
  • Help with logistical support, like reordering your schedule and/or appointments if a major situation pops up.

Virtual assistants as transaction coordinators

Another option for a busy real estate agent to save time is using a virtual assistant who specializes in transaction management. Some virtual assistant businesses can provide assistants with this training, which can save agents a lot of time in offices that don’t offer this type of support.

These assistants manage all timelines and stay on top of everyone assigned to each task from the day you have a signed agreement to the possession date. They make sure all the documentation necessary to close has been completed. And they do all the data input, so an agent doesn‚Äôt have to lift a finger and can focus on reviewing the forms ‚ÄĒ not creating them.

The big benefits of a virtual assistant

If you do it right, hiring a virtual assistant will make you money. Because it will free you from the things you do that are not directly profitable, hiring a virtual assistant should help you do the things that generate more sales.
Because this individual is a contract worker, you save significant employment expenses, especially if they are overseas. You don‚Äôt have to worry about insurance benefits or sick days or paid leave or OSHA rules ‚ÄĒ all your HR headaches are gone.

You have no infrastructure costs with virtual assistants. You don’t have to pay for their internet or phone service, and you don’t have to buy them a computer. They are not taking up any of your office space, so you have no overhead expenses.

You also should spend far less time training, as the real estate industry is awash in experienced virtual assistants overseas and in the U.S. Virtual assistants most likely have done many of these tasks before for another agent.

A word of caution

You do need to keep in mind that there are some elements of real estate practice that a virtual assistant will be unable to perform. For example, many states have strict rules around what is considered ‚Äúsoliciting‚ÄĚ real estate business, which can only involve someone who is licensed. Some virtual assistants have a real estate license, although they are an exception. Other states restrict the answering of specific questions to licensed professionals. It‚Äôs best to check with your supervising broker, an office policy manual and the Wisconsin statutes before diving in.

This contributing article is from the Tech Helpline, a service of the WRA, and is authored by Melissa Mazanec-Becker.

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