Have you always wanted to say, “I’ll have my person call your person?” Hiring a real estate agent assistant might make you feel like a big shot – finally, someone to offload the detail work to! But the reality is that hiring a real estate assistant is more about growing your business than your ego. That’s because a real estate assistant can free you up to focus on sales and other high-value tasks.
Wondering if you should consider hiring a real estate assistant? If you’re an agent who consistently closes 25 or more deals a year, the time might be right to enlist an assistant to handle tasks such as marketing, delivering signs, scheduling appointments and handling paperwork, which can free up your time to focus on client service and new business development.
Here’s what you need to know about hiring a real estate assistant.
When Should I Hire A Real Estate Assistant?
As previously mentioned, having a real estate assistant isn’t about having someone to deliver your lunch or schedule your personal appointments. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have adequate tasks for the assistant to perform. A general rule of thumb is to hire a part-time assistant when you close 20-25 transactions annually, says Mark Bradley, principal and broker at HomeSouth Residential, Inc.
That guideline is important because it helps indicate whether you have an adequate budget to be able to take on the overhead of a real estate assistant. Unlike agents, a real estate assistant isn’t going to work on commission. Therefore, you have to feel sufficiently financially stable to be able to pay them, whether you’re selling homes during a certain period or not. Most real estate assistants are paid hourly, often with a bonus when homes sell.
In real estate, some of the most important but “simple” tasks are also the most time-consuming – like sending email follow-up, connecting with past clients, scheduling appointments and setting and tracking third-party contract services, notes Benjamin Ross, REALTOR® and investment specialist.
“Many agents fall in a terrible cycle of extreme marketing that yields a bumper crop of clients, then they abandon marketing because they’re swamped and then end up closing escrows with nothing in the turnpike due to neglected marketing campaigns,” he says. With a real estate agent assistant, you’re better able to manage this cycle to avoid a business that’s built on feast or famine.
So, for example, if you have a goal of a certain number of home sales in winter, you should track what tasks you might have been able to offer a real estate agent assistant to see if one is right for you.
But what it really comes down to is whether your clients are getting your full attention, notes Brandin Johnson, owner of We Buy Houses Fast In Orlando and broker/owner of Incisive Realty, LLC. “Clients come first,” Johnson says, “and you have to make sure that you are taking excellent care of them through impeccable service and communication.”
For that reason, he says the perfect indicator of needing an assistant is when you become so busy that you start forgetting or neglecting certain tasks or details for your clients.
How To Hire A Real Estate Agent Assistant
At this point, you’ve realized that you’re spending too much time on auxiliary tasks and not enough time making sure your buyers are happy customers. You need an assistant, but you aren’t sure how to find, hire and onboard your new team member.
Here are the steps you need to take to get started.
Step 1: Identify The Type Of Assistant You Need
Once you decide the time is right to hire a real estate assistant, the first step, as mentioned, is to create a list of the duties you want them to perform to ensure that you’re looking for the right person.
Then, you’ll need to consider the type of assistant that will best serve the needs of your business or brokerage. Start by determining if your assistant will need their real estate license to perform the tasks you’ll assign them. As opposed to a typical administrative assistant, a licensed professional will likely have a better understanding of the real estate industry, which will prove useful for more demanding projects.
You should also estimate the amount of work hours an assistant will need to complete their tasks, as this can help you decide if you should list the position as a part-time or full-time role.
Another option, notes Fiona Petrie, who oversees RE/MAX INTEGRA operations in the Midwest and New England, is leveraging a virtual assistant. “While they obviously can’t be on hand to greet clients or help with open houses, they can save hours of doing routine, support and back-office tasks, so you’ll have more time in your schedule to work with clients,” she says.
Step 2: Reach Out To Your Network Or Create A Job Listing
Next, consider tapping your network and asking around to trusted sources in order to avoid being flooded by job applicants. Someone might have a referral, which can help speed the hiring and vetting process.
If that doesn’t prove fruitful, create a job listing that’s very specific about the duties in order to improve your chances of finding the right person early in your quest. A simple “help wanted” sign at your brick-and-mortar office or a local news ad can help you generate some interest around the job. However, it’s even more important to post your position online on all the big job platforms, such as LinkedIn and Indeed. Real estate professionals also check postings on industry-specific career sites, such as iHireRealEstate, so you should consider listing your position there as well.
Step 3: Arrange Interviews With The Top Contenders
If you’ve decided to create a job listing, your next step is to sift through all the resumes you’ve received and pinpoint the most promising applicants. Once you’ve narrowed your choice down to the best three to five candidates, you’re ready to start interviewing.
Prepare interview questions that will provide insight into their ability to think creatively and on their feet. You also should determine if they’ll be up to the task of client-facing activities or if they prefer to be more behind-the-scenes. You want a personality type that will excel in your preferred position.
If you find that you don’t have the time or bandwidth to conduct these interviews, you might be able to partner with a local recruiting agency, which can scout and interview potential talent on your behalf.
Step 4: Vet Your Final Candidate
Finally, before making the offer, follow up with their references and ask specific questions that can help you assess whether they’re the right fit both with your personality and the skills they’ll need to perform. You’ll also want to verify that any certifications, courses or licenses they’ve listed are valid if they’re necessary for the job’s requirements.
Real Estate Assistant Duties
A real estate assistant can do almost anything you want them to, provided that they’re up to the task. Common duties include responding to emails, scheduling appointments, mailing or delivering documents to clients and arranging closing gifts, says Brandin Johnson. They also can place signs and lockboxes, create brochures and other marketing collateral and even take and edit photographs if they’re skilled. If social media isn’t your thing, you can task them with managing your platforms so you can leverage social media without spending money.
And don’t overlook the importance of soft skills, in addition to task-oriented abilities, such as organization and attention to detail, Johnson adds. “An assistant who is a good fit needs to be adept at communication and understand your needs as an entrepreneur,” he says.
However, before you start looking for a real estate agent assistant, be sure to put together a job description so you know what you’re looking for. Brainstorm the tasks that would be most helpful for you to pass off, so that you know you’re getting the right person for the job. For example, if you want someone to handle your scheduling but are a pro at using Instagram to get leads, make sure that you’re clear with them – and yourself – which tasks you want to outsource and which ones you feel you bring you unique value to.
Hiring someone to take care of delivering signs or keeping your contact management platform up to date is far different from looking for someone who has the experience to prequalify leads or write listings.
How Do I Integrate A REALTOR® Assistant?
Part of your decision process about whether you should hire a real estate assistant should include an assessment of whether you’re able to prepare them sufficiently. Investing time at the beginning to show them your processes and explain your expectations for communication – especially if they’re handling tasks remotely or on a flexible schedule – can save both of you frustration down the line and enhance your working relationship. After all, it’s a two-way street, and you want them to want to stay on the job once you’ve taken the time to hire, train and immerse them in your operation.
Then, you should vow to use them wisely. Once you have a real estate assistant, the hardest part might actually be allowing them to do the tasks they were hired for. It sounds counterintuitive, but many successful real estate agents got where they are by being, well, a little “Type A.”
Successful salespeople often are used to doing all the tasks themselves and can find it hard to loosen the reins, but you have to resist the urge to micromanage. Take the time to train your real estate assistant in certain tasks that you believe should be accomplished a certain way, and then step back to allow them to use their own creativity and experience to execute the rest.
The best working relationships are those built on trust. Once you’ve found the right real estate agent assistant, let them shine – and watch your business blossom.
The Bottom Line: Real Estate Assistants Help You Focus On The Bigger Picture
Real estate assistants won’t be the right choice for some agents, especially those who are still building up their client portfolios or don’t yet have the infrastructure to scale their operations. But if you’re able to hire the right person and give them direction, your assistant can help you keep your eyes on what’s really important – building and retaining your relationships with clients.
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