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.

The real estate market has changed, the fundamentals of a successful business haven’t

By Dirk Zeller

There has been a lot of change that we all have experienced in the last few years. While change is a constant, the depth and breadth of the change has been historic. With all the change and challenge, foundational truths still apply in the real estate business.

Sales is an odds-based business

I realize that many agents don’t view themselves as a salesperson. If you want to replace service or professional representation service for the word sales, OK. There are odds in any business. The odds for some buyers has become extremely low in today’s market. Buyers who need closing costs from the seller, who have low money down or who have zero dollars they can allocate for appraisal gap coverage are having a tough time. You are investing your time, effort, energy and expertise in a buyer client whereby presently, the odds might be heavily stacked against them. I am not advocating to not work with them. I am advocating monitoring your buyer pool to make sure all your clients don’t occupy this category.

Wants and needs don’t change the odds

Just because your client wants it or needs it doesn’t change the odds of them securing it. There are untold buyers currently struggling to move to the new market realities. They want to buy their home at the pricing of 6 to 12 months ago. They think if they just wait, diligently look and are patient, they will find the “proverbial” needle-in-the-haystack home.

We need to select our clients with a heart of service, as well as a head for business. We are in a service-based business. The purpose of a service-based business is to provide outstanding service for compensation. The second part at times is omitted. The “for compensation” is important. The two are linked together and occur in proportionality to the odds of the marketplace and the buyer. With a buyer that has low odds due to marketplace conditions and their individual buyer conditions (low down, type of loan, no appraisal gap funds, etc.), your earning compensation is equal to or worse than their individual odds. The odds must be evaluated logically with our head while we serve them with our heart.

Client selection plays a more important role in achieving success in today’s marketplace. It does pain me to write that, because I wish for all that want to become homeowners to become so. Due to the nature of the present real estate marketplace, low inventory conditions, escalating prices and, now, interest rate increases, the field of successful homebuyers has narrowed. As we all know, our income is attached to their successful outcome. As a businessperson, I have to use my head and my heart at all times with prospects and clients.

Murphy’s law will always get a portion of your output

Murphy’s law — whatever can go wrong will go wrong — is alive and well in the world today. Plan for Murphy to take a portion of your business. Not to think of that as fact is to be naïve. The sales ratios in the real estate business have changed. Historically, if you wanted three buyer-pending transactions each month, you would need to be working with about six active, motivated, ready-to-buy clients. About 50% of your buyers would find what they wanted in 30 to 45 days in a normal inventory market.

In today’s market that timeframe for some is longer. That has caused the ratios of 2:1 to increase to 3:1, maybe even 4:1 or 5:1 in most markets. That requires us to alter our formulas. You might need nine buyers or even 12 active buyers to secure three pended deals a month. The sales ratios have changed, so we must adapt to the new ones if we are to achieve successful outcomes for our clients and ourselves.

The more challenging the market conditions, the more truth is revealed if we are observant

Market difficulties shrink the allowable margins to success, narrowing the lane of opportunity. Disruptions in the market don’t remove opportunity; they just narrow the variables and tighten the shoulders of the road. For example, if you are inconsistent or non-existent in lead generation activities in your business, today’s more challenging market conditions will reveal that a lot sooner. We must be observant and strategic to marketplace changes, conditions and prospects’ and clients’ odds of success. The market demands improvement of our business, skills and strategies and habits.

Dirk Zeller is the CEO of Real Estate Champions.