Marketing, research, sales, paperwork, networking – it’s a never-ending balancing act for a realtor to try and fit all of these must-dos in a single work week. And there’s only so much you can do before items slip away from today’s to-do list and get pushed to the back burner.
But what gives first?
You can’t ignore the marketing part — that’s what drives leads to your business. You can’t ignore closing sales — that’s what makes you money. And you certainly can’t turn your back to networking — that’s how you build relationships with other realtors who might send their clients your way.
This is when outsourcing the non-essential tasks in your business to a real estate virtual assistant (VA) will save you a lot of time, and will put you way ahead of the competition.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Virtual Assistant
- 2 Is Hiring a Real Estate VA Good for My ROI?
- 3 How Much Will Hiring a Real Estate VA Cost Me?
- 4 Legal Considerations
- 5 Where Can I Find a Real Estate Va?
- 6 What Can I Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?
- 7 Conclusion
Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Virtual Assistant
As much as we’d like to believe in the “company of one” myth, this is simply not feasible for a real estate professional, especially if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The main reason why you should hire a VA is simply to free up more time to focus on the core activities that drive revenue: connecting with leads and serving your clients.
And it’s not just time that you’re freeing up. Think about how much of your mental bandwidth is currently taken up by all the small items on your to-do list. Once you shift those items to your VAs to-do list, you’ll be able to gain the clarity and focus that you need in order to work on high-end goals and strategy.
Is Hiring a Real Estate VA Good for My ROI?
Does it make sense from an ROI perspective to start working with a real estate virtual assistant?
How much time do you spend working in your business, rather than on your business?
How much time do you waste on promoting listings, keeping your inbox in check, filling in paperwork, scheduling meetings and generally handling the nitty-gritty required to run a successful real estate business?
Can that time be used in a more productive way — that is, in face-to-face meetings with leads, serving your current clients, or attending networking events?
Let’s also consider having to keep up with all the tech side of the business. Does it really make sense for you to learn every piece of software – from scheduling tools to social media channels and photo editing tools? Or does it make more sense for you to outsource these tasks to someone who’s already a pro at handling all of these tools, especially the ones that have a steep learning curve?
The answer to these questions will determine if you need to hire a VA now or if you should wait.
How Much Will Hiring a Real Estate VA Cost Me?
We’ll be honest with you: it costs however much you budget for it. If you want to go the cheap route, it’s quite easy to find a virtual assistant that operates from a country with a low cost of living. For $6/hour, they’ll take care of your basic admin needs. That doesn’t sound like a bad investment, right?
But there’s a caveat to this solution. And as a sales professional, you’re more aware of it than anyone else. Here goes: You get what you pay for!
Yes, paying so little for VA services might seem like the best bet in the short-term. But hiring somebody who doesn’t understand how the market operates in your country, or the right way to communicate with leads, can be a recipe for disaster.
That’s why we recommend that you work with a VA who is familiar with the way business is conducted in your country. If you’re in the United States, a specialized real estate virtual assistant can charge between $25-50/hour.
If you think the time that you free up is worth more than that, then go ahead and hire that VA.
Here are a few things you should know before contracting with a virtual assistant. VAs are professionals who run their own business as independent contractors. That means that the fee that they charge you already covers them paying for their own taxes and benefits.
At the same time, most VAs work with more than one client, so make sure you agree upon the required availability of your VA and turnaround for the work you’re sending their way.
As always, we recommend that you start with a trial period to see if you and your VA are a good fit and to allow both parties to work out the kinks in the collaboration. A one-month trial period is long enough for the VA to get up to speed with the business side of things and short enough to be able to say goodbye if the relationship doesn’t feel mutually beneficial.
Where Can I Find a Real Estate Va?
The answer to this question depends on which route you’ve decided to take. If you’re opting for the cheap solution, you can find a VA on large marketplaces such as Upwork and People per Hour. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to work with that person outside the chosen platform. Also, consider that these VAs are probably serving a large number of clients in order to be able to keep their rates so low. So don’t expect a bespoke service.
Another option is to do a Google search for “real estate virtual assistant,” then spend some time sifting through to narrow down the results to a few potential candidates that you’ll then have to get in touch with. It’s definitely a time-consuming solution, but one that you can deploy if you have some downtime in the off-season.
One efficient way of finding a VA is having a qualified virtual assistant contact you. Our Virtual Assistant Finder service sends qualified VAs right to your inbox.
What Can I Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?
The answer to this question is up to you. Obviously, you shouldn’t delegate tasks that are crucial for your business, such as meeting with clients or signing contracts. But there are some high-ROI things that are better left to a VA. Here are a few examples:
Creating or updating online listings
According to the Real Estate in a Digital Age report released by National Association of Realtors, 94 percent of millennials and 84 percent of baby boomers looked online when they were shopping for a home. Long gone are the days when just papering your neighborhood with fliers or placing an ad in the local newspaper were the main sale drivers. Now it’s all about getting your listings online and getting them there fast. But between uploading a new listing to MLS, adding it to your website, and promoting it on social media, this can be a really time-consuming process. Outsourcing listing management to a VA will free up your time for the face-to-face client interactions that this business is based on.
Furthermore, a 2016 study commissioned by Redfin found that almost 20 percent of homebuyers are making offers on homes without ever seeing them in person. Buyers of high-end homes were twice as likely to have made offers on homes sight unseen. This type of buyers are relying on well-crafted home listings and impeccable photography to make a purchasing decision. Here’s where an experienced real estate virtual assistant can help you create and update your online listings in a timely fashion.
Social media management
Social media can be an exceptionally powerful marketing tool and an excellent way to connect with leads. Posting on social media can also help you build authority and gain the trust of potential clients, even when they don’t yet know whether they need your services or not. At the same time, the ROI is not directly measurable, and being constantly present on social media can turn into a time drain.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 74 percent of female realtors are active on social media compared to only 66 percent of male realtors (with Facebook and LinkedIn being the most popular platforms). When your clients are hanging out on social media, promoting on their channels of choice seems like a no-brainer.
A real estate VA can help you promote your current listings on social media. But in order to position yourself as an authority in the field – and in your geographical location – your social media channels shouldn’t just focus on self-promotion. A professional VA will help you curate content about your local market and national real estate trends. Your social media channels can also include tips on how to most efficiently buy and sell a property, as well as lifestyle tips for your target demographics.
Whether they’re helping you put your marketing strategy on auto-pilot or helping you manage the day-to-day posting and follower interaction, outsourcing social media to a VA will put you back in control of your schedule.
If you think that posting your listings on social media and website is where the magic happens, well, you might want to reconsider it. Yes, you may have a lot of followers on Facebook and get a lot of likes on Instagram, but these people might not be on the market for the services of a realtor … just yet.
If you want to connect with warm leads, you need to create an email marketing strategy. Once people land on your website and your social channels, they next thing you should do is invite them to join your mailing list, or subscribe to your newsletter.
What’s the difference between the two?
A newsletter is less personal, and the same version goes out to every subscriber. It can inform your subscribers about the current listings you have on the market, or about local buying and selling trends.
On the other hand, a personalized email campaign is your chance to connect directly with your leads and convert them into clients. According to Hubspot, there are ten types of emails that you can send to your subscribers, depending on where they are in their customer journey – are they just prospecting the market, in the middle of the buying/selling process or have they just completed a transaction?
A real estate VA can help you take care of both of these pieces of the marketing puzzle – email marketing and newsletter delivery.
Forgetting to show up to a client appointment is THE ultimate nightmare scenario that plagues a realtor’s dreams. Imagine putting your whole energy into getting listings and organizing showings, only to end up missing the appointment or showing up at the wrong time or the wrong place.
Here’s where a real-estate VA can step in to make sure your calendar is clearly organized in the most efficient way possible – after all, driving all the way across town every two hours is not exactly the best use of your time.
And meeting with clients are not the only appointments you have to coordinate. Booking the right photographers and videographers, meeting with other agents, underwriters, notaries, and sales departments – it’s a fine balancing act that never stops. On top of that, you have to deal with cancellations and rescheduling, as well as no-shows.
A virtual assistant is well-versed in setting up systems to manage your appointments, either using a simple calendar – such as Google, or a more sophisticated solution such as Calendly or Cronofy.
Creating graphics and promotional material
Visual appeal and nice imagery play a crucial part in selling properties. There’s no excuse for not having well-designed graphics to go with your listings and your social media promotions. This is where you cannot skimp on quality.
Hiring a graphic designer might be too expensive, but a specialized virtual assistant with an eye for creating aesthetically pleasing graphics is the way to go. What do we mean when we say graphics? Here are just a few examples of graphics that you can publish online: infographics (here’s an example), Instagram images (like the one below), Facebook covers (such as this one).
Developing the skill to create professional-looking visual elements takes a lot of time and practice. After all, you don’t want your promotional materials to look like a mattress liquidation flyer from the ‘90s. And you’re in the business of selling property, not in the business of graphic design.
When you outsource visual content creation to a VA, you can agree either on packages (for example, 20 graphics a month) or on hourly rates (for example, your VA will be available 5 hours every week to handle your graphic design requests).
These are just a few of the roles that a VA can play in your business. It’s really up to you to customize your virtual assistant’s role in a way that makes the most sense in order to achieve your business goals.
Still not sure if you need a virtual assistant?
Here’s what you can do: at the end of every workday this week, write down a list of tasks that you could have outsourced to a VA instead of doing them yourself. By the end of the week, you’ll have a clearer picture of how much time and effort a VA will save you.
Bonus step: post your list in the comments below.