If you’re like most high-producing agents, you’re busy. Things were smooth sailing at 1-2 transactions per month, but now that you’re doing at least 30 deals a year, the cracks in your system are starting to show and things are getting a little...hairy.
There’s no better time to start thinking about bringing on an awesome real estate VA.
Because despite the constant glamorization of “the hustle”, a healthy business shouldn’t require you to put in 60 hours a week, or miss important time with your family — and there’s no better way to make more money in fewer hours, than by enlisting the help of an awesome real estate VA.
But where should you start? What type of VA should you hire? And how do you know it’ll be worth the time, energy and money involved? For questions like these (and more!) we’ve got you covered.
Before you start your search for your amazing new success sidekick, this guide will help you make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Table of contents
- What is a real estate virtual assistant?
- Real estate virtual assistant services: What real tasks should you assign to a real estate VA?
- Best practices when hiring a real estate virtual assistant
- How to determine the cost-benefit when hiring a VA
- The top real estate virtual assistant companies
What is a virtual assistant for real estate? (And why you need one yesterday)
In the game of business — and life — it’s all about growth. And when it comes to hiring a real estate VA, the growth benefits are pretty much endless.
A real estate virtual assistant (VA) is a business admin who essentially acts as your right hand. A real estate VA can offer a variety of business services in-person or remotely. The right VA can cover diverse tasks like lead gen and database management, or even finance and marketing.
Here’s how Daniel Ramsey, Founder of MyOutDesk, puts it, “Once you delegate a task and create a process and a procedure, you are able to recover your time. And get this, since you have now developed a repeatable process that someone else can handle…you get that time back for the rest of your career!”
If you’re stressed out or stagnating, it’s time to let go of the idea that it’s somehow easier, or more cost effective, to “just do it myself.” It’s not.
Think about it. What could you do with all those mornings or afternoons spent scheduling meetings, organizing paperwork, or updating your listings?
- How many calls could you make?
- How many follow ups could you do?
- How many more deals could you close?
Using a VA helps you win back your time so you can focus on the high-impact work that brings in revenue for your real estate business. Fact is, VAs are the best-kept secret top agents use time and time again to get to 7 and 8-figure status. But you’ve got to be able to do it right.
Before you rush off and hire your first VA, you need a step-by-step process laying out exactly what it is you need them to do. Because while real estate VAs are a dime a dozen, finding a truly stellar VA that can execute to the ‘t’ is a whole other ball game.
Real estate virtual assistant services: What real tasks should you assign to a real estate VA?
If you’re like most agents thinking about hiring a VA, you might be tempted to pass everything (and we do mean everything — from lead nurturing to content production and transaction coordination) over to a VA.
“I've had a lot of agents that will come to me and say, ‘Okay, I want to hire an assistant. So I want somebody who can do marketing, somebody who can be an ISA, I want somebody who's gonna be good at my transactions, I want somebody who's gonna be doing my marketing, I want somebody to go pick up my laundry...’ I say, ‘Great, so you're hiring five people, right?’ And they’re like, ‘What do you mean?” says Tammi Deinlein owner of transaction coordination company Real Pro Leverage.
The key to success in any role is to clearly define the tasks and outcomes you’re looking for.
If you want help with lead response, you’ll definitely want to map out a list of tasks and responsibilities for a dedicated ISA. If you want a rockstar TC to keep clients happy from contract to closing, that’s a whole other skill set.
And if you’re on the hunt for an ace-in-the-sleeve admin who can take the small, death-by-flea-bite tasks off your plate so you can focus on getting more deals in, you’ll need to narrow down your real estate VA job description to the top 3-5 tasks of each key function you need them to assist with.
Here are some of the many things a great virtual assistant can do to help you scale your real estate business.
You know marketing is a vital part of your business — but it can also be very time consuming. Fortunately, a virtual assistant can handle many of the marketing tasks on your plate (and even do some of the heavy lifting), so you can spend more time on the things that only you can do. A VA can help with marketing tasks like:
- Create buyer’s packets and powerpoints
- Send mailers to your spheres of influence
- Graphic design for digital and print assets
- Schedule (or even write) blog posts
- Research content ideas
- Update your website
- Schedule email
- SEO updates
- Post, update, and advertise on social media
- Track marketing analytics
If juggling projects, deadlines, and other people’s schedules isn’t your forte, having a virtual assistant to help with day-to-day real estate operations can be a big help — especially if you hire one who’s familiar with the real estate industry. A real estate VA can help with numerous tasks that help keep your office running smoothly, such as:
- Data entry (MLS, CRM, reporting, etc.)
- Listing presentations, coordination, and updates
- Collect feedback from your clients and team members
- Basic bookkeeping, including I&E and P&L tracking
- Prepare sales and performance reports
- Manage contracts, agreements, and other documents
- Schedule showings and services (photographers, inspections, etc.)
- New agent recruiting and onboarding
Don’t downplay the skills of a VA just because they’re virtual — you’d be surprised how many sales tasks a virtual assistant can help you with. While some responsibilities may require a higher level of English fluency, you can still get a lot of the tedious stuff out of the way with a VA, such as:
- Research buyer & seller leads
- Update your CRM with notes on leads
- Prospecting and cold calling
- Follow up with leads
- Set appointments
- Update sellers on weekly performance
Pro Tip: Using your VA as an ISA? Here’s a pro tip from Tristan Ahumada of Labcoat Agents. “I find that the best use for an ISA is your own database. If you can help it, have yourself or your agents call expireds and FSBOs. For ISAs, stick to outbound calls for your database, inbound calls from signs, online leads. Those are all great for an ISA.”
Of course, there are also the standard virtual assistant tasks — the types of responsibilities you’d give to a secretary or personal assistant. Let a VA be the Pepper Potts to your Tony Stark for tasks like:
- Respond to emails and/or inbox triage
- Set up meetings
- Receptionist duties (like answering incoming calls)
- Record meeting minutes
- Manage your calendar
- Personal admin (holiday cards, organizing family events, etc.)
Your virtual assistant can easily manage your calendar and appointments — and even send invitation emails to clients — directly in Follow Up Boss.
Best practices when hiring a real estate virtual assistant
Remember, before you get out there and start vetting VAs, it’s imperative to get your house in order first so you can set clear expectations from the beginning.
From there, it’ll be easy for you to review deliverables and make sure every task you hand your VA is executed with precision on point.
If you’re ever in doubt, many real estate VA outsourcing tools have software on the back end to track exactly how your virtual assistant is using their time. But when the right expectations are set, you shouldn’t need to be Big Brother.
Start by getting your own business system and process in place, then assess where the key bottlenecks are and tease out the exact tasks and outcomes that would help remove those bottlenecks, and get more deals flowing in. Then write up a job description with clear outcomes and an idea of what success looks like in this role.
If you’re hiring a VA directly vs. through an external company, you’ll likely need an independent contractor agreement in place, signed by both parties.
This is obviously good business practice in order to give you legal protection, but it also helps make things official in terms of ensuring the contractor knows exactly what they should be doing. You might also consider setting up an NDA which means your freelancer can’t divulge secrets to competitors or pull any of your data.
How to determine the cost-benefit when hiring a VA
There is a wide price range for virtual assistant services.
Depending on who, what and where you’re looking, fees can range anywhere from $5 per hour to five-figures a year.
While it’s tempting to settle for the cheapest option, it’s better to think about this cost in terms of what your business really needs and the value you’ll be getting for your investment.
Here are some of the factors to consider.
US-based vs. Overseas real estate VAs
There are a ton of misconceptions about hiring overseas help, and these misconceptions can cost you.
Whatever you do, never underestimate the talent you can find overseas. Not only is overseas outsourcing more affordable, but there are talented VAs all over the globe, who are skilled at various aspects of running a business and more than comfortable delivering results across time zones. Plus, when you hire overseas help you don’t have to settle for whoever’s available in your market — the entire world is your oyster.
But of course, there is a place for local talent. Especially in real estate. For example, if you need to outsource a high volume of client-facing work, it might be useful to go with someone US-based, or even locally based, who has a better understanding of the nuances in your market. This usually makes the most sense when you need full time, client-facing help, or will want to meet with this person face-to-face. For example, if you need someone to help with fieldwork, open houses, etc.
Level of experience
Some agents recommend going with a jack-of-all-trades, others recommend finding an expert in the type of work you’re looking to outsource, and many VA service providers are experts at matching you with a VA who has the right educational background and level of experience for your needs.
But of course, real estate-specific experts with awesome experience will have a price tag to match. If you’re taking your first step with outsourcing, we recommend starting with a VA who’s more of a generalist, but who has demonstrated an ability to communicate clearly and shown that they’re comfortable with the list of outcomes and expectations you’ve provided. Some agents recommend trialing the VA with a project-based agreement, then moving to a set hours per month agreement when they’re sure they’ll be happy with the work.
However, if this isn’t your first rodeo, and you’ve got the revenue to justify it, it’s definitely preferable to go with an expert, as these guys can get some of the bigger, juicier tasks off your plate, which will help you accelerate your growth even more quickly. Many expert VAs will even have experience and ideas that can create revenue opportunities for your business that you might never have thought of.
Scope of work
We said it before, we’ll say it again: Outcomes are crucial when outsourcing.
You must know exactly what you’ll be outsourcing before you get going. Think long and hard about where you really need the most help, and how much work you actually have to keep your VA busy. If necessary, try tracking your time for a couple of weeks to a month to gain some real clarity on where your time goes each day. Pay special attention to the parts of the day you’re most productive. What are the tasks and distractions pulling at your focus during those hours?
The small tasks that definitely don’t drive sales but can take up an entire morning are the perfect tasks to outsource to a VA (who by the way, can probably do them better and faster than you ever could anyway).
Part-time virtual assistant, project-based, or in-house
When you’re just getting started, contractor or project-based VA will work best. By using a VA for some one-off help (say, helping you get through January without sacrificing your personal life), you not only get some freedom in your workday, you also get a chance to test the waters and see how much work you actually need to outsource and get an accurate read on whether or not to extend your agreement with the VA to a long-term contract.
If you find you can’t live without the VA, go ahead make the jump to ongoing part-time help before you go all in with a full-time employee. The last thing you want is to waste time scratching your head trying to find things for your VA to do, or worse, waste money on hours unused.
The top real estate virtual assistant companies
As with who you hire, where you source your real estate virtual assistant will have everything to with where you are in your business. While there are many real-estate specific companies to choose from, many agents getting started with a VA have found great talent on Upwork or even Craigslist.
Where you find your perfect VA is not nearly as important in being clear and confident about the outcomes and job description you’ve put together. Having said that, here are (just some) of our favorite companies and websites to help you narrow your search.
Upwork – Best for Your First VA or One-off Hires
This is the freelance-sourcing site we’ve all heard of. You can find pretty much any kind of contract-based talent under the sun on Upwork. Many agents new to outsourcing have found dream VAs to help them with things like organization, admin, and marketing on Upwork.
Virtudesk - Best for a Diverse Range of Tasks
With Virtudesk, you get access to highly trained VAs and a team of support staff to help ensure your VAs have everything they need to succeed in the role. VAs can cover any range of admin tasks as well as marketing and even transaction coordination responsibilities. The team at Virtudesk is highly focused on matching agents with the right VAs and even uses DISC profiles to make sure your VA is the perfect fit.
Timeetc – Best for Flexible, US-Based VAs
Like Upwork, Timeetc is a great source for generalist VAs who can help with a range of admin and operational tasks. Unlike Upwork, they do most of the hunting and pre-qualifying for you (using a process outlined by Richard Branson’s former Executive Assistant – how cool is that?) which can be a huge help if you’re extremely strapped for time.
ClearDesk – Best for Handpicked Help
Want a VA who has real estate experience? A social media specialist? A biz dev whiz? ClearDesk can help match you with a VA who has the right skills for the job, as well as part- or full-time options. All ClearDesk VAs go through a detailed and rigorous certification process to ensure you get the quality you expect.
MyTasker – Best for Quality, Affordable Overseas Help
If you’re questioning whether you can really afford a VA, MyTasker is a great way to start. Their VAs are based in India and are experts at helping you figure out which business and personal tasks to outsource.
MyOutDesk – Best for Agents with More than $200K in Revenue
Ready for some serious boss-level systems? MyOutDesk has a rigorous process for selecting their overseas help and they actively train their VAs to become true experts who can cover the full spectrum of real estate tasks and activities. For expert-level help, this is about as much bang for your buck as you can get (but it WILL cost you so make sure you’ve got the revenue to make it worth it).
Summit VA Solutions – Best for Real Estate Specialist VAs
Summit VAs are given 160 hours of extensive real estate-specific training — meaning they can do a lot more than a generalist VA. In addition, Summit’s college-educated virtual assistants are backed by an internal support team of experts who help your VA get up to speed as quickly as possible.
Wherever you decide to start...
Make sure your VA successfully fills the right holes in your business and can be seamlessly integrated into your workflow. For example, many VA providers require you to have another tool like Vulcan or Mojo before you can get set up with them but you won’t know details like that, unless you do your homework first.
Remember, when it comes to hiring a real estate VA who really gets what you’re about, you need to know what you need and make sure your house is in order, so that you can free up your time without cutting corners on the value you provide to your clients.