Is it time to hire a virtual assistant for your real estate business? In this article we’ll cover:
- Why you might consider bringing on an assistant.
- The tasks a real estate VA can take off your plate.
- How much it’ll cost you.
- What to do before you begin your hiring process.
- Where to find an awesome real estate virtual assistant.
As you know, a real estate business can be both lucrative and overwhelming–especially as your client base expands.
There will be times when you have to wear all the hats from being the CEO down to marketing and operations.
Most of the time, you’ll feel as if you can actually do it on your own, which is pretty much how most real estate agents and investors feel. (And definitely how most start out!)
While this may be true to some extent, the truth is you may be compromising your business by being a one-person band.
Why Hire a Real Estate Virtual Assistant
Instead of focusing on high-value tasks that bring in the income, you are committing yourself to tasks that you can easily delegate to someone else. This is the reason why hiring a real estate virtual assistant is a must because more than the other hats, it’s the CEO hat that really needs your attention.
From handling phone calls to managing your listings, there is a multitude of tasks you can have a real estate virtual assistant help you with because, at the end of the day, you still need to have the freedom to enjoy life outside of work, don’t you think?
More than getting your freedom and time back, the upside to hiring virtual assistants is the deep talent pool you can explore. Outsourcing tasks to someone is one thing but having a specialist or an expert do it for you is another.
That’s putting your business in a better position to succeed by getting the services of someone with the skills and experience to make it happen.
And even though every transaction is different, most follow a similar general process — which means there’s lots of opportunity to delegate some of those routine workflows.
What Tasks Can a Real Estate Virtual Assistant do for you?
Running a real estate business is no easy task. It’s not easy to attract clients, build relationships, maintain a listing, take phone calls, and keep everything organized–while still managing to close one deal after another.
With a real estate virtual assistant in tow, you don’t have to stress yourself out by doing all of these. You can stick to closing deals and managing the business while leaving the more tedious tasks to your virtual assistant.
Here are some of the common tasks real estate assistants help their broker, agent, and investor clients with:
I think we can all agree that one of the most extensive tasks in a real estate business is that of handling phone calls.
From scheduling meetings and open houses to answering buyer inquiries, it’s definitely something that will take time (and patience in some cases).
Yes, they’re not that complicated but imagine if you’re in the middle of an open house and a client calls. You’re probably going to tell them you will just call them back.
That’s not unusual, but wouldn’t it be better if you had someone call them back and schedule them accordingly?
That’s probably a small thing for some but for other clients, personal attention can go a very long way.
You’re not going to be able to sell properties without letting people know! That’s why a sound marketing strategy is essential.
Implementing such a strategy might involve several key tasks like:
- graphic design
- social media management
- blogging / content marketing
- email marketing
Though you can always hire general admin virtual assistants to perform such tasks, you can do your business a favor if you have the budget by onboarding seasoned experts instead. (More on where to find them below.)
Not only would they require less training, but they can also even help you enhance and expand on the strategies you already have in place.
Sometimes it’s better for the business if you get someone who’s better than you in doing these tasks. I mean, not all of us were born with a writer or artist in us!
A top-notch social media manager or a prolific blogger, for example, can help you expand your reach and get more leads better than you do skills and experience wise.
Keeping daily operations running is crucial to the business. And while the tasks that need to be done are mostly clerical, they still take up a lot of time. Paperwork may look simple but can become tedious, especially with a huge volume.
These might be tasks like:
- researching comps
- data entry
- client relationship management system (CRM) updates
- transaction management
- feedback collection
Let’s face it; these aren’t the sexiest tasks, but they’re still necessary for the business to continue to operate.
You can take these off your plate by outsourcing them to a real estate virtual assistant.
Virtual Inbound Sales Assistants (ISA’s)
Following up with leads is critical to any real estate business because clients don’t always buy or sell immediately. It usually takes them a couple of months before they decide to buy or sell their properties and in between those months, your business should be always in touch.
Nurturing leads take time, plain and simple. A real estate virtual assistant can help keep your “cold” leads warm until they’re ready to buy or sell.
Virtual Outbound Sales Assistants
Generating leads is also essential to a real estate business and while there are systems in place to do this online, doing it the old fashion way is also necessary. A virtual outbound sales assistants can help you by cold calling FSBO’s, expired listings, and other potential lead sources so you can concentrate on the more important activities in your to-do list.
Virtual Transaction Coordinators
In a business that generates so much paperwork, virtual transaction coordinators can still be just as useful despite the presence of transaction management platforms.
It’s a big bonus to have someone gather and organize the mountain load of paperwork you need to close out deals. Though you may only need them for a short amount of time, their contribution can add up to a huge difference.
How Much Does a Real Estate Virtual Assistant Cost?
Virtual assistant services cover a huge price range and it depends on two primary factors:
- The assistant’s skills and experience
- Their geographic location.
US-based vs. Overseas Assistants
If you are working on a small budget, hiring overseas is the smart thing to do.
Not only is it more affordable, but it also gives you access to a bunch of talent that has the skill and experience to help you grow your business. Don’t be swayed by the misconceptions you’ve heard; virtual assistants from other countries are sometimes even better in delivering results.
There are of course instances when local talent is necessary or preferred. In real estate, there client-facing work that requires the knowledge and understanding of someone who is local or at least US-based. This totally makes sense especially when you need that person for fieldwork like open houses.
With that being said, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $40 per hour for a real estate virtual assistant.
The price for an overseas virtual assistant can be anywhere from $5 to $15 per hour while a college-educated, US-based one can cost you around $20 to $40 per hour.
Skill Level and Experience
As with any hiring scenario, the level of experience and skills also plays a huge factor when it comes to price. Naturally, the more seasoned and talented a virtual assistant is, the higher their rates will be.
Hiring an expert will definitely cost you more compared to hiring a general VA, but if you have the budget to spare, specialists and experts are totally worth the extra bucks. They require less training and hand-holding, giving you more time for your CEO tasks–which is why you hired them in the first place.
You do have the option to use them on trial by hiring them for project-based work. If they manage to meet or exceed expectation, you can then move them to set hours per month agreement.
It all goes down to the amount of budget you have to work with. If you have more than enough, going for an expert is preferable given their potential and ability to produce better results.
4 Things to Do Before you Hire a Real Estate Virtual Assistant
There’s a lot that goes into hiring than just reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates. If you want to be successful at hiring a real estate virtual assistant, you need to have the necessary preparation and process in place before you say “you’re hired.”
1. Identify Which Tasks You’ll Outsource
The first thing you need to establish is which tasks you will be outsourcing. This step is important because failing to do this can make you lose money by outsourcing tasks that you shouldn’t have in the first place.
To avoid this, make sure to come up with a list of tasks that you believe should be delegated. The easiest way to do this is to audit your own time, and itemize out the tasks you do every week or for every deal.
You may also have a list of tasks you’d like to do if you only had more time. Feel free to add those to your “wish list” too, but recognize a superhero rockstar ninja VA that can do everything might not exist.
Assess each task’s importance then finalize your list once you have decided which ones you will continue to do and which ones you will outsource.
2. Create Process Documentation
We each have our own preferences when it comes to how we want things done. For social media, for example, instead of researching and posting content each day, some prefer coming up with a content calendar and scheduling posts in advance.
If this applies to some or all the tasks included in your list, make sure to document your current system or process. That way, your virtual assistant will have a reference to guide them.
I normally use a combination of Google Docs and screencast videos (I use Screencast-o-Matic) to create my library of “standard operating procedures.”
This will become a handy reference manual your assistant can rely on. It’s also a really valuable business asset to have because it gets all your processes out of your head. (And if your new assistant ever leaves, it’ll be faster to onboard someone new.)
3. Estimate How Many Hours You Need
Equally important before you begin the hiring process is to have a clear estimate of the number of hours you will need for a virtual assistant to complete the tasks you will hire them for.
This is crucial especially when you are working on a tight budget, because you’d want to get the best quality of work for every penny you’ll spend.
While you always have the option to go project-based, most of the virtual assistants today work on an hourly rate. For that reason, it helps to be very specific when it comes to your requirements. Like, “I’m looking for someone 10 hours a week.”
It’s better to be meticulous from the very beginning than run out of budget without getting enough work done.
4. Describe Your Ideal Virtual Assistant
With so many talents and skills to choose from, picking the right real estate virtual assistant is like getting in front of a buffet table. While you can always go for anything you want, having an idea of what you really need can make all the difference.
The same principle applies when you’re looking for a virtual assistant.
You have to be very specific with what you’re looking for, attitude and skills-wise. Since you’ll probably be training your new hire on your systems anyway, getting the right fit may be more important than an existing skill-set in a particular software tool, for example.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you looking for someone who can work in the same hours as you do?
- How many years of relevant experience does the candidate need to have for them to be qualified?
- Do they need to speak fluent English?
- What experience do they have in your industry?
- Do they have a reliable track record?
Being good at cold calling or social marketing isn’t good enough. They have to conform to your standards and requirements because all the talent and the skills would amount to nothing if you are not in sync with one another.
(And of course there will be a learning curve at the start of any relationship.)
Before you proceed to interview candidates, make sure to create a list of all the qualities you’re looking for in your real estate virtual assistant. Once you’ve got all of this documented, you should now be ready to add your new team member.
Where to Find a Real Estate Virtual Assistant
Now that you have a better idea of how much time you would need them and which specific qualifications you’re looking for, the next step is to start looking for a virtual assistant.
The good news is this process has become a lot easier over the past couple of years with a number of freelance websites and virtual assistant companies.
While I don’t yet have a clear-cut leader I can recommend in the real estate industry, I think the options below are a great place to start.
The Best Places to Find a Freelance Real Estate Virtual Assistant
FreeeUp is a freelance marketplace where you can hire freelance real estate assistants who possess a host of talents and skills.
What separates FreeeUp from its competitors is that they do a lot of the dirty work for you in terms of candidate assessment and interviews.
The company prides itself in providing business owners the “top 1% of online freelancers”. Candidates you’ll meet through the site all pre-vetted and are deemed qualified based on the requirements you sent. All that’s left for you to do is identify who is the best fit.
FreeeUp allows you to monitor your freelancer’s activity via a tool called Time Clock. You can also choose to work with freelancers on a per project basis or fixed rate instead of hourly.
VAA Exclusive: Mention VAA for 10% off workers!
(Fun fact: a writer I found through FreeeUp helped research and draft this article!)
Click here to see our full review of FreeeUp, my interview with the founder, and read real customer reviews.
OnlineJobs.ph is a Filipino job board that provides business owners the opportunity to hire online freelancers to help grow their businesses.
What separates this website from its competitors is its powerful filtering system. It’ll help you sift through thousands of resumes, skills, and salaries until you find the candidate that fits your requirements to a tee.
The dual advantages of this site are:
- a huge talent pool
OnlineJobs now has more than 500,000 resumes in its database, and you’ll find full-time support from $500 a month or less.
The website also helps you narrow down your choices to the more legit ones through a metric called ID Proof. It’s not a measure of skill, but gives you a more accurate indication if the candidate really is who they say they are. (Apparently it’s a thing for assistants to create multiple profiles to hedge their bets.)
From virtual assistants, graphic designers, bloggers, and social media associates, OnlineJobs.ph has pretty much every kind of freelancer a business owner needs.
Click here to see our full review of OnlineJobs, my interview with the founder, and read real customer reviews.
No freelance market list or conversation will ever be complete without Upwork. Upwork is the largest freelance marketplace today with more than 12 million registered freelancers.
By conducting a search, Upwork provides you a list of candidates that matches your requirements. You can then reach out to the candidates you consider the most qualified so you can start interviewing them and narrowing down your choices.
After you’ve hired a freelancer, the program allows you to watch their activity via a tracking tool which will help you monitor if you are getting value for what you are paying for.
Just like other freelance platforms, Upwork allows you to pay freelancers on an hourly or fixed rate basis which gives you more flexibility in terms of time and budget.
Offshore Real Estate Virtual Assistant Companies
Uassist.me is a virtual assistant company founded in 2009 to provide virtual assistant and administrative services to clients in the United States and across the globe.
The company emanates from Miami and El Salvador. The El Salvador location is just a 2 hour flight from the US, making them a pioneer in what they call “nearshoring” instead of “offshoring.”
The company has seen a lot of growth and earned a number of accolades over the past few years. UAssist offers a wide variety of services, including real estate support, bookkeeping, customer service, translations, billing, social media marketing, SEO, and more.
I consider Uassist a “happy medium.” The rates aren’t quite as low as India or the Philippines, but they’re more affordable than a US-based hire. Expect to pay $10-15 an hour.
VAA Exclusive: mention referral code NL10 to get 10% off your first month.
Click here to see our full review of Uassist.ME, my interview with the founder, and read real customer reviews.
eLuminous Technologies is one of the more established virtual assistant companies today having been around since 2002.
Operating from India, the company provides support for clients from different time zones that include EST, PST, GMT, and AEST among others.
With a team composed of over 80 staff members of varying skills, Real Estate is one of the 4 core departments. (When I called them, they gave me a full video virtual tour of their office!)
Click here to see our full review of eLuminous, my interview with the team, and read real customer reviews.
My OutDesk is another virtual assistant company but unlike the others, this company focuses solely on real estate. Founded in 2008 in San Diego by a team of real estate veterans, My OutDesk operates through a group of virtual assistants located in the Philippines.
These virtual assistants are trained in a variety of real estate-specific tasks like broker price opinions, transaction coordination, bookkeeping, MLS listings management, short sale processing, property forms, as well as posting to craigslist.
The downside? The company has collected lots of less-than-flattering feedback from both assistants and customers.
US-Based Real Estate Virtual Assistant Companies
If you’re looking to hire American staff for your real estate business, the following companies would be be on my short list.
Time Etc is both a UK and US-based virtual assistant company which was established back in 2007.
The company helps small business owners and entrepreneurs improve their processes, make their lives easier and more efficient, and enable their businesses to achieve success.
The company is made up of college-educated and professional virtual assistants who work from home offices in the UK and US. The service boasts an impressive clientele that includes Facebook, Apple, IBM, and more — and has earned a solid reputation from customer reviews on this site.
Time Etc virtual assistants support a variety of tasks that include:
- customer service
- lead generation
- and more
Rates are in the $22-26 range, depending on how many hours you need.
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Click here to see our full review of Time Etc, my interview with the founder, and read real customer reviews.
Exclusively employing US-based assistants, BELAY began in 2010. The company has since undergone an expansion and is now serving small and large businesses across the United States.
The company boasts of a proven onboarding process by allowing you to speak with a Solutions Consultant and a Relationship Manager. They’ll help introduce you to virtual assistants who are skilled in bookkeeping, web support/maintenance, project management, and social media management to name a few.
Rates for BELAY are a little steeper; think $36 an hour and up.
VAA Exclusive: Mention Virtual Assistant Assistant when you join and get $200 off your startup costs!
Click here to see our full review of BELAY, my interview with the founder, and read real customer reviews.
Running a real estate business doesn’t have to be overwhelming! A virtual assistant can make things easier while making your business more profitable.
If you’re a real estate agent or investor who’s struggling to get everything in order, what’s holding you back from getting started delegating?