When you’re first getting your real estate business started, you can manage a lot yourself. Your client base is small, and you don’t have a ton of listings. It’s not too hard to run your own ads and upload your own listings.
Fast forward a few years, and you’ve got piles of listings and new clients every month. You want to maintain this momentum, but you also want time to figure out new ways to engage your audience, convert leads, and onboard new clients. You’ve got a few options. You can:
- Add to your office manager’s workload
- Hire more office staff
- Take on more manual tasks yourself
If you don’t want to sacrifice your team’s efficiency, a better option is to hire a real estate virtual assistant. They understand real estate, and they free up time for you to do more value-added tasks — like hosting open houses. If you’re new to the world of virtual assistants, here’s a look at their benefits and 12 ways they help you be more effective and efficient.
What is a real estate virtual assistant?
Real estate virtual assistants are remote workers that help you manage and grow your business. They’re a little like office managers because they manage administrative and operational tasks. Real estate virtual assistants are different from other types of virtual assistants because they’re experienced in real estate — they can undertake specialized tasks and understand real estate terms.
Depending on the tasks you need help with, there are different kinds of real estate virtual assistants and specializations. They can help with sales calls, social media management, marketing and advertising campaigns, office administration, and more.
Regardless of the type of help you need, the main benefits of hiring real estate virtual assistants include:
- Time-savings. They take on tasks that aren’t necessarily less important but rather tasks that take time to complete. For example, running monthly activity reports might be time-consuming, but they’re important for your business. A virtual assistant can run reports for you.
- Cost-effective. Depending on the virtual assistant you hire and the scope of work you both agree to, you can pay per job or pay per hour. Both options save you the cost of hiring a full-time employee to handle the increased workload.
- High-quality standards. Lots of agencies that offer virtual assistant services have a rigorous screening process. This way, all you have to focus on is hiring someone vs. hiring on your own and still worrying about the quality of work.
- Specialized skills. Depending on the kind of help you need, you can hire virtual assistants with specific experience and skills. For example, if you need to improve your sales funnel, a virtual assistant with sales experience can help call leads. If your needs are broader than this, hire a virtual assistant with a wider skill set.
- Source of feedback. As virtual assistants work with you, they get to know your team and business well. Over time, your virtual assistant can offer suggestions to improve efficiencies in your business.
We’re several years into the digital age at this point, and as a result, real estate is becoming digitized and automated. For example, ad creation and lead generation can be automated. However, there are still a few tasks that aren’t fully automated — this is where real estate virtual assistants fit in. Here are 12 ways they help agents like you become more efficient.
1. Upload listings to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
Uploading new listings to MLS isn’t difficult, but it’s time-consuming when you have multiple listings. Uploading is a manual process that a real estate virtual assistant can help you with.
Provide your virtual assistant with the information they need for each listing, and they’ll take care of the rest. For example, create an MLS info sheet that includes:
- The property type. Confirm whether each listing is a residential house, a condo, or a commercial property. Also, include whether the properties are for sale or lease.
- Listing information. Include the size of the property, fees, taxes, and more.
- Property description. Include details about the properties, like their features, location, and nearby amenities.
- Images. Include multiple images to give viewers an idea of what to expect from each property.
- Link to virtual tour.
- List price.
Once each listing has been uploaded, your virtual assistant can review them to check for accuracy. Having a virtual assistant upload and review listings in MLS takes the pressure off you. You can focus on taking calls from prospective buyers instead.
2. Schedule client appointments
As your business grows — more leads call to view your listings — you’ll need help managing all of the incoming calls, emails, and texts. A virtual assistant can manage these incoming messages and book private viewings for you.
If your team uses a shared calendar, like Google Calendar, your virtual assistant can schedule appointments based on team member availability and send confirmation emails to the lead and the corresponding agent.
Real estate virtual assistants can also use these inbound messages to answer questions about properties. Chances are many of the questions coming in are the same, like price and preferred close date, so instead of you answering the same types of questions over again, your virtual assistant can focus on providing this service for you.
3. Monitor CRM database management
We’ve already touched on the fact that more aspects of real estate are becoming automated. For example, when you use Spacio during your open houses, leads are automatically uploaded to your CRM database when guests sign in. If you hold more than one open house in the same area, chances are some of the same guests will visit.
Your virtual assistant can help manage your CRM database by checking for and removing duplicate profiles. You might end up with duplicate profiles when:
- The same guest signs in at different open houses.
- People submit a lead form on your website.
- People sign up for webinars you host.
Virtual assistants can also update contact information in your CRM database. For example, when customers email or call in with questions, your virtual assistant can confirm their contact information and make updates to these profiles as needed.
Another CRM management option is data entry. If you send clients annual gifts, like birthday cards, ask your virtual assistant to enter birth dates and important anniversaries into the CRM database so that it’s up-to-date and the data you need is available to you.
4. Manage social media accounts
93% of people start their search for a new home online. Part of this search includes social media. People might browse through listings on Facebook or view recent Instagram Stories you shared at an open house or a house tour. With billions of users on these platforms every day, managing multiple social media accounts is a full-time job on its own.
A virtual assistant can manage the following tasks:
- Add event invites
- Upload new posts
- Respond to followers’ questions
- Add featured properties
- Respond to reviews
Virtual assistants will be able to upload posts in bulk and schedule them to publish at specific times during the week. Both of these tools also offer analytics that shows how posts are performing, audience type, clicks on posts, and more. If you hire a virtual assistant that specializes in social media management, they can use the analytics to offer suggestions on how to improve social media engagement and conversions.
5. Prepare monthly reports
Part of running a successful real estate company involves using reports to help you make decisions and to track your goals against key performance indicators (KPIs). Virtual assistants can help with this by creating regular reports like:
- Seller and buyer reports to track new leads
- Sales figures like properties sold per agent
- Lead-to-client conversions
- Market activity and trends
- Mortgage rates
- Social media engagement
- New email subscribers
To make reports engaging and to balance data with visual appeal, ask your virtual assistant to add images, graphs, videos, and company branding to the reports they generate.
6. Collect property scraping details
Whether you work with buyers or sellers, there’ll come a point where you discuss price. This can be the list price or the offer price. To help your clients make a decision, you share comparisons of similar listings in the surrounding neighborhoods.
In order to share this information, your virtual assistant can help by doing some property scraping — review multiple listing sites to find applicable comparison properties. In addition to price, ask your virtual assistant for information on local amenities, property size, type, and location.
Instead of you taking the time to search for this data, you can focus on coming up with pricing strategies and counter-offer suggestions ahead of your client meetings.
7. Conduct lead calls and follow-up
Statistics show that 80% of leads become clients after five to 12 follow-ups. Why? Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest transactions someone will ever take on. To convert leads from curious to motivated-to-take-action, you have to nurture the relationship first.
You might be able to call each of your leads two or three times before your focus shifts to other tasks. So that you don’t lose leads, a virtual assistant can help by following up for you. Real estate virtual agents can even complete tasks like prospecting calls, screening leads, and conducting lead nurturing. This added attention to leads helps improve the customer experience since they have a dedicated person answering questions and sharing relevant information and insights.
8. Organize basic email marketing
Email marketing is a powerful way to keep your leads and clients engaged. Almost everyone has a cellphone within arm’s reach, which means they check their email an average of 15 times a day.
If you hire a virtual assistant that specializes in email marketing, create a detailed guide for them that outlines what type of messages they’ll send, how often to email subscribers, which calls to action to include, and which branded images and videos to use. Also, share lots of email templates for your virtual assistant to use because the more guidance you provide, the better your campaigns will be. With these guidelines, your virtual assistant can send campaigns that:
- Invite leads and clients to upcoming community events
- Share the latest property listings
- Include team updates
- Offer industry updates and tips to buyers or sellers
- Include surveys
9. Manage paperwork
One of the most time-consuming aspects of being a real estate agent is the paperwork. For starters, there’s the home seller form, the purchase agreement form, the listing agreement form, client information forms, property valuation request forms, and the list goes on. Plus, different types of clients and properties require different sets of forms and contracts.
To help you stay organized, a real estate virtual assistant can:
- Create an internal database that houses all of the forms you’ll need
- Update the CRM database to attach relevant forms to client profiles
- Pull signed or blank contracts and forms as needed
- Submit forms and contracts to lawyers, banks, and other agents on your behalf
Managing your paperwork is a detail-oriented task, so hiring a real estate virtual assistant is especially handy since they understand the industry so well. They can help make sure you have what you need so that sales and purchases are completed accurately and on time.
10. Research local properties
There might be some neighborhoods that you’re familiar with because you’ve sold a lot of homes there. There may be others that are new to you. Rather than lose a client because you’re unfamiliar with the cities or neighborhoods they’re interested in, your virtual assistant can help you with research.
Similar to property scraping where virtual assistants gather listing information to help you guide your clients, they can also help you research specific areas your clients are interested in. In fact, when Chris Savage, co-founder and CEO of Wistia, needed to find an apartment, he found it incredibly helpful to have someone research properties that met specific criteria. As a client, it saved him a ton of time during his search.
In addition to general property type and average list price, your virtual assistant can help provide information like:
- Average days properties sit on the market in target neighborhoods
- Average selling price in target neighborhoods
- Local amenities like schools and hospitals
- Upcoming or ongoing infrastructure development
When you meet new clients, you can establish trust quicker because of your knowledge of the area and your ability to answer client questions. This is another way to improve customer experience.
11. Manage local advertising efforts
Advertising your real estate business and listings is a big part of getting in front of prospective clients and generating more leads. With so many advertising options available to you — PPC ads in Google and social media ads — creating and monitoring ads is time-consuming.
With a tool like Boost, social advertising is taken care of automatically. However, if you choose to also advertise on local, non-digital platforms, virtual assistants can help manage that too. Your real estate virtual assistant can add open house notices to local newspapers or radio stations. Your virtual assistant can even help order marketing material like lawn signs, agent boards, business cards, and feature sheets for open houses. These are all helpful ways to get your business seen by more people — and one less thing for you to manage.
12. Book travel transportation and accommodations
If you attend industry events, conferences, or have a booth at real estate events for the public, there are a few details to organize. For one, your travel arrangements to and from venues. If you’re traveling far, your virtual assistant can help by researching transportation options and booking tickets for you. They can even help book accommodations if you’re attending events that require more of your time.
The virtual assistant can send the details and tickets to you once everything is booked. You can focus on preparing for your upcoming events vs. scouring the web for tickets.
The best places to find real estate virtual assistants
Since virtual assistants work remotely, start your search online. You have two main options:
- Use an agency that offers virtual assistant services
- Advertise for the role on your website or on social media
With an agency, a lot of the candidate vetting is done for you to make sure only the most qualified virtual assistants are available. On the other hand, if you choose to seek out a virtual assistant on your own, a few things to look for include:
- Their experience as a virtual assistant
- Their specializations
- The hours they’re available
- Length of time they’re available
- Their rates
- References from previous clients
You can make the hiring process run smoothly if you’re clear on what tasks you need a virtual assistant to help with. For example, specify whether you need help with sales, social media, or general administrative tasks. This makes sure the right projects are covered — by the right people — and your virtual assistant is able to spend their time productively.
To make sure there’s clarity, take time to think about where you need the most help in your business and then write a detailed job description, set your expectations and goals, define how long you’ll need a virtual assistant, and conduct training when you find the right person.
Real estate virtual assistants help you thrive
Virtual assistants can be seen as virtual team members. There comes a point where they understand your business as well as you do and the internal processes that make you tick.
Look for where efficiencies can be improved within your business, and hire a virtual assistant to help you meet your goals. You’ll be happy to see over time how much more efficient your business is and how much more time you have for tasks you excel in.