What is a virtual assistant for real estate?
VAs typically work with small businesses to help take some of the workloads off their plate and this is why they are often an asset to a real estate professional.
They especially shine at caring for repetitive tasks, recurring processes, or administrative duties that often take up a lot of a business owner’s time.
A major draw for teaming up with a virtual assistant instead of hiring an employee is their flexibility.
Anyone running a successful small business knows that the workload, especially when it comes to certain tedious tasks, can ebb and flow depending on the week.
That’s where a VA can shine.
Bring them on for 40 hours one week and then only 20 hours the next.
Because they’re an outside contractor, they don’t require a set number of hours per week as employees often do. Rather, they can adapt to your business needs for a given period.
Their contractor status is another huge financial benefit for your real estate business.
Since you’re simply contracting out work instead of hiring an employee, no insurance costs or employee-related taxes need to be paid.
Combine this with not having to provide extra office space or equipment as you would with an in-house employee in the real estate industry, and the benefits of having a VA become too good for many successful real estate agents.
What tasks should I give to a real estate VA?
Even though these are much more standard tasks commonly cared for by a personal assistant or secretary, they aren't any less important. Your business would quickly grind to a halt if admin tasks aren’t cared for regularly and promptly.
Many VAs can lighten your load by simply allowing you to stop doing these time-consuming admin tasks. Offloading these simple duties will allow you to focus on matters that will have a greater impact on the growth of your business.
Common admin responsibilities for real estate VAs are:
- Receptionist duties, such as answering phone calls or caring for correspondence
- Calendar management: prioritizing your calendar/scheduling your appointments
- Recording and cataloging details from meetings
- Managing your email inbox
- Changing the dates and addresses on real estate marketing materials
- Following up/managing client inquiries
- Database management: organizing contacts, maintaining relevant information about your internal team and their activities.
- Updating property management systems
To stay on top of deadlines, keep projects moving, and coordinate your schedule with others, you’ll need a VA that knows more than just a thing or two about the real estate market.
A VA that handles operations effectively can be your secret weapon behind-the-scenes, letting you focus on matters that only you can handle.
Best of all, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that these important matters are being handled by a capable professional instead of waiting for you back at the office.
Operational tasks that a VA can handle include:
- Document management
- Scheduling showings, services, etc.
- Recruiting and onboarding new agents
- Data entry and management (MLS, CRM, etc.)
- Client follow-up
- Listing preparations, updates, etc.
3. Sales and lead follow-up
Here’s where you might start to feel nervous.
Because sales directly impact revenue, you might adopt the ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself attitude and avoid delegating aspects of the sales process.
However, there are still a lot of tedious, time-consuming tasks that you can hand off to a capable VA who’s knowledgeable in real estate.
Doing so can supercharge your sales process, giving you more time and energy to care for clients and focus on growth.
Here are some of the best sales tasks for a VA to care for:
- Sales and performance report preparation
- Updating your CRM with lead information
- Researching, cold calling, lead generation, and pursuing new buyers and sellers
- Nurturing existing leads, appointment setting, and handling customer service
- Monitoring real estate trends
- Preparing seller performance updates
- Sending letters to clients
4. Online marketing
Staying on top of your digital marketing efforts is a constant battle.
Your business has to continuously handle a wide variety of marketing tasks to attract clients, promote your brand, launch a new campaign, and highlight your value.
Fortunately, assisting with marketing is where a skilled, experienced real estate VA can shine.
A real estate VA can help with these marketing tasks:
- Plan, research and strategize content ideas
- Schedule blog posts
- Update content on your website
- Assist with graphic design for digital and print media
- Oversee your social media – including creating and updating posts
- Schedule emails
- Manage website SEO
- Create presentations and packets for clients
- Be available to answer questions from an online customer
How do you decide which tasks should go to a VA?
As you can see, a virtual assistant can handle more than just sending an email or posting on your social media account.
But don’t assume you can pass off everything listed above unless you’re ready to hire four or five VAs.
Your task priorities need to be set. It’s a good idea to begin a time tracking log, then start with the desired result and work your way back.
Ask yourself these important questions:
- What tasks take the most time?
- What do I struggle with the most?
- What outcome am I looking for?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make a confident decision regarding what you want to have a VA oversee.
How much does it cost?
The hourly rate for a virtual real estate assistant according to ziprecruiter is between $25-$70 for someone based in the U.S. This cost is for someone who has specific experience in real estate and, depending on your situation and needs, you may not need someone with that much specific experience. If you’re open to hiring a virtual assistant based out of India or the Philippines, the hourly rate ends up being closer to $5 per hour.
Location of real estate virtual assistants
Remote assistants that live in the U.S. can be found on freelancing websites like Upwork and Fiverr. They are based in every state in the country and you might even be able to find someone who lives near your office so they can come in from time to time to meet the team.
In the Philippines, however, there is a huge, experienced talent pool and due to the exchange rate, $5 USD per hour in the Philippines is a great salary. Many top CEOs have executive assistants based out of the Philippines and many companies facilitate the hiring of off-shore VA’s. Service providers like these have a rotating staff of in-house VA’s and if you work with these companies you can be guaranteed to have a replacement if your VA needs to call in sick or take time off.
Level of experience
As we learned from establishing all of the tasks a VA can care for, there is a huge range of duties they can help with. Some require more skill and knowledge than others.
For example, simple admin tasks might not even require real estate-specific training. Handling phone calls, managing a calendar, and detailing meetings can be handled by a generalist VA.
Contrast that with the insight needed to help with marketing, such as successfully strategizing content and assisting with the design of your mailers or website. You will definitely want someone with greater real estate experience to help with these higher-level tasks.
If the greater ability is needed, it’s best to start with a single project to make sure they’re a good fit and that they’re able to meet your expectations. From there, you can either choose to have them help out regularly or keep looking for a better match.
Scope of work
How do you know what commitment you’ll need from them? Pay attention to how much time it takes to care for the tasks you want help with for a few weeks. Doing so will help you know the amount of commitment you’ll need from a VA.
The nature of the work will also affect the scope. For example, admin or operations can be much more constant than sales or marketing, which can be influenced by your season.
Depending on what you decide for the scope of work, you’ll know how to approach the amount of time you need from your VA. The last thing you want is to take them on full-time, only to struggle with finding tasks to keep them busy.
So start with either part-time or project-based help. From there, you’ll either know that less is best or realize you can’t live without having someone else handle these tasks.
The pros and cons of having a VA
The benefits of having someone take care of time-consuming tasks is clear. When you’re not bogged down by follow-up e-mails, the tedium of contacting individuals to schedule meetings, you have extra time to focus on growing your business, more family time, additional freedom for your personal life, and added availability for you to handle more essential tasks.
Sometimes, though, busy lives can be made busier by hiring the wrong virtual assistants. If you need to spend a great deal of time training your new hire or hand-holding them through every task, then it might be more hassle than its worth. This is why hiring the right person is essential.
How can you prepare for onboarding?
Here’s where you’ll need to invest a portion of time to ensure everything is in place so your VA can hit the ground running.
- Are there clear systems and processes in place for your VA? Or will they have to figure out how you run your business on their own?
- Have you clearly outlined responsibilities and expectations? Is there an agreement written that documents these for both parties?
- Are the resources that they will need organized and ready for them?
Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes to understand what will make their initial efforts more successful.
Considering what you want to know and have available if you were to be your assistant can avoid stress and make things easier for everyone.
Five real estate virtual assistant companies
By now, you can see there is no one-size-fits-all VA; rather, different tasks require different levels of skill and experience.
Different resources will give you access to different skill levels.
As we did earlier, we’ll start with a broader approach and work our way down to the sources for specialist VAs.
Wrapping it up
Virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks, from entry-level to expert.
However, you need to know what your business needs are.
You also need to have the systems in place before you onboard for a VA to truly give you an advantage. Doing so will let you focus time and energy on providing your clients with an experience that exceeds their expectations.