Hiring a virtual assistant doesn’t have to break the bank

The market has been fast and furious, and in order to stay productive, the need for efficient time management is at an all-time high. Attempting to do it all just doesn’t work, and you can easily burn out if you don’t find ways to delegate some of the workload. Hand off the mundane tasks so that you have more time to focus on your clients, build your business and have some personal time.

Time to go virtual

Consider hiring virtual assistance — and do not fear! Our world has become so accustomed to working remotely, and technology has kept up with it. This isn’t just for mega-agents or teams. If you are new or only completing a couple of transactions per month, there are affordable plans that will suit your needs. The virtual real estate assistants come already trained and ready to work for you. Going virtual could be perfect for the agents who are too busy to keep up but not busy enough to afford traditional assistants.

Cons for the traditional way

Traditional assistants can be hard to find — especially in this employee drought. They are expensive and may require another desk at an office that we really don’t spend much time at. Training can take valuable time away from you cultivating your business just to get them up to speed. Worse yet is when you have invested that time to get them to a certain level only to find out that the relationship isn’t going to work out. With a virtual assistant, you can switch out easily if things aren’t gelling well without wasting valuable time.

What do virtual assistants do?

Everything a traditional assistant does, just not face to face. Whether it is simple database upkeep, scheduling, prospecting, marketing or full-on transaction management, these companies offer virtual assistants who can do it all — some include social media management and even video editing! Most are already trained in e-signature software such as Dotloop, DocuSign and several CRM platforms, but they will work for you and integrate into whatever you are currently using. Think of it as Uber for your real estate needs, from full-on to a la carte.

Know what your needs are

If you are looking to go big for a “right hand” that can also double as your backbone as a part- or full-time executive assistant, then you can look at MyOutDesk, Virtudesk, Virtual VA Solutions, Zirtual, Ossisto or ShoreAgents, to name a few. Some offer by-the-hour or monthly plans, whether it’s part-time or full-time, and the rates range from $8.60 an hour and up to $1,800-plus per month for full-time. Some, but not all, source their talent from the Philippines, but they work in your time zone and have trustworthy skills and extensive training in our U.S. software systems.

Go basic to get started

If you are on your own or have a small team and just need some transaction management assistance, then Transactly may be the way to go. Why? Because you only pay when the deal closes — they don’t earn it until you do! And their fee is only $125 to $350 per transaction. If you do not currently have transaction management software in place, they can provide theirs to you free of charge. It can be customized to suit your workflow and comes with beautiful email templates that can be integrated with your brand as you keep your clients up to date throughout the process. But if you already have a system in place, they will adapt to your customized workflow.

Transactly claims that they can automate roughly 91% of the transaction tasks, and you can designate what you want them to do and what you will do to get the transaction to a smooth close. They are U.S.-based and bilingual and operate in all 50 states, plus Australia and Canada. It’s important to note that they are not virtual assistants at your beck and call. They are purely transaction coordinators and work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week but promise a 24-hour turnaround time on all communications. You are assigned a primary coordinator, so you will be dealing with the same person for each transaction, but they will also be managing other clients. They also offer listing management services as a separate item.

Balancing work-life while growing your business

Be open-minded and take advantage of the opportunities these virtual assistant companies have to offer. Research what is right for you, and take some of the weight off your shoulders with these cost-effective virtual assistance opportunities. This will not only enhance your business and bring you a better bottom line, but, more importantly, provide you with more personal time to balance your life and avoid burnout.

Anne Ewasko is a veteran Realtor in the Chicago area and a longtime techie. Visit her at anne.luxhomechicago.com.

Two easy tools to put you in control of your client’s home loan

When buyers ask you for your lender referrals, how many agents have just been sending them a list of the “top three” and then take a back seat with a wait-and-see approach to find out what happens next?

I raise my hand here. I am guilty of this!

Times have changed

I have done just that for most of my 25-year career, because quite frankly, the lending side of the business was not what attracted me to real estate. I always left it to my trusted lending experts to handle the financials for my clients so I could focus more on my clients and their needs to get their transaction to a smooth close.

Be at the helm

However, with so many more cash buyers and a highly competitive market, things have changed dramatically, and we need to up our game and take more control, even on the lending side of things. Knowing with whom we are working and what their financial strengths (or weaknesses) are can really make or break a deal when we are trying to structure that offer and win that bid in a multi-offer situation.

Agent-centric integration

In the past, I felt segregated from the process. At most, the more sophisticated lenders would spit out automated emails to agents when key milestones in the loan process were met. Quite nice as it kept us in the loop; however, we were always in the back seat waiting, along with our clients, for this information.

Now, there are integrated systems with 24/7 access so that we agents can stay on top of the loan like never before with data access throughout the entire mortgage process. Systems designed for agents so that we can work hand in hand with our lending partners and stay informed ahead of our clients. This has been a game changer for me, because it allows me to circumvent unforeseen situations that could blow a deal apart.

Two easy tools that could work for you

Let technology put you in control for each client’s home loan process like never before with access throughout the entire mortgage process. With these tools, you have the advantage of keeping the lender in the palm of your hand, staying on top of the daily mortgage rates in real time and having the qualification tools to help your clients find the best solution for their home loan needs. Here are two that do just that:

“Agent Advantage” Portal:

This proprietary portal, designed for agents, is offered by Proper Rate and Guaranteed Rate. Yes, it has many bells and whistles that can help you with lead gen, drip campaigns, co-branded marketing and even coaching. But what really sets this platform apart is the Loan Status Monitoring function. All of your clients can be managed in one database which allows you to monitor their loan status at all times. You can check in at any time, see when an appraisal has been ordered and even review it once complete! It’s super-efficient, keeps you informed for your clients and saves time from when the initial invitation link gets sent all the way to the “Flash Close” — and everything is done remotely.

“Rocket Pro” App:

This app by Rocket Mortgage keeps you up to date with the daily mortgage rates and also allows you to manage your clients within one database. You can send loan application links to your clients with qualification tools to help them find which loan would best suit their needs and acquire preapprovals within 24 hours. It gives you vision into your client’s loan process with real-time optional push notifications for every step — from appraisals and underwriting all the way to the clear to close. It even allows you to securely upload documents, which puts you in greater control of your client’s home loan process.

Digital mortgages — wave of the future

Both of these tools also offer complete digital mortgages. If you are working with lenders that still have platforms that require your clients to tediously upload countless documents — i.e., pay stubs, bank statements, etc. — then you need to consider partnering up with lenders that have gone 100% digital. This means that applications are streamlined and can be completed in minutes, saving your clients time and hassle. Clients can have their income and assets automatically verified with minimal information. This can essentially eliminate all paperwork, plus all documents can be signed digitally. These enhancements not only simplify things — they also provide a smooth process that your clients will appreciate.

So, no more sitting in the back seat in the dark waiting for updates. Use these tools to take the helm, and guide your buyers to one of their best home lending experiences ever.

Anne Ewasko is a veteran Realtor in the Chicago area and a longtime techie. Visit her at anne.luxhomechicago.com.