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Virtual assistants (VAs) for real estate investors: Good or bad idea?

Virtual assistants (VAs) for real estate investors: Good or bad idea?
by Dena Landon, posted in Investment Strategy

Tired of maintaining records and entering transactions into your accounting software? Overwhelmed by tenant phone calls and maintenance requests? It might be time to hire a virtual assistant for your real estate business.

A real estate virtual assistant can be an invaluable addition to your team – helping with follow-up on important items, maintaining records, and more. Here’s the lowdown on virtual assistants and what they can do for real estate investors.

What are virtual assistants?

Virtual assistants work remotely to help your business succeed. They handle administrative and other tasks, freeing up your time to concentrate on more high-value activities. A virtual assistant can be an independent contractor or someone you manage through a website, alleviating the need to hire someone full-time.

Even though you’re in real estate, there’s no need to have a physical office. You can manage your investments out of your home, and a virtual assistant helps make it possible.

Tasks that VA’s can handle for real estate investors

Your needs may vary based upon your portfolio size and tenants, but virtual assistants can take a variety of tasks off your plate.

Virtual assistants and administrative tasks

Filing leases, entering new tenants into your rent roll, and ensuring that their contact information is complete – one of the best ways to use a virtual assistant is to outsource your data entry and database management. It’s necessary to stay on top of these tasks, but they’re time-consuming and don’t require specialized knowledge.

Maintaining accurate tenant files keeps your business in compliance with local laws and regulations. Did you get a scanned copy of their driver’s license? What about the license for their dog? Virtual assistants serve as a second pair of eyes to make sure you’re checking all the compliance boxes.

A virtual assistant can also field phone calls, answer emails, and maintain your calendar. If a potential tenant calls about a vacant unit, your assistant can schedule the showing. Not all investors like dealing with tenants, so a virtual assistant for real estate can become your customer service representative.

Use a virtual assistant to manage and recruit other team members. Did a tenant complain about a running toilet? Have your virtual assistant interview plumbers or schedule maintenance appointments for your existing maintenance team. They excel at calendar management for a complex real estate business. Essentially, a good virtual assistant takes the place of an administrative assistant or office manager.

Virtual assistants and marketing

Advertising vacant units and promoting your buildings reduces tenant turnover and keeps units full. Hire a virtual assistant trained in social media management to post building updates, listings for vacant units, and respond to online reviews on all your social media channels. When you need to post listings on websites like Craigslist, they can upload text and photos.

A company or building website serves as a marketing tool to promote your business. If yours includes top-quality photos highlighting a building’s features, floor plans show prospective tenants a unit’s layout, and a web portal to collect online applications, it cuts down on time spent marketing in real life. If you lack expertise in these areas, use your virtual assistant to set up, maintain, and possibly design your site.

Virtual assistants and financial management

Don’t enjoy entering late payments or pet fees into your real estate management software? Outsource light bookkeeping tasks to a virtual assistant. Besides data entry, have them scan and upload receipts, balance your checking accounts, and generate statements when tenants move out.

If you need help screening real estate deals, hire an assistant trained to work with real estate investors. They’ll check your cap rate calculations, research market rents, and pull comps. Managing real estate transactions, whether it’s purchases or sales, requires staying on top of a lot of moving pieces. Owners, tenants, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, insurance agents,

Best practices for finding and hiring a virtual assistant

If you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, how do you find someone who’ll be the right fit? You can talk to local realtors and see if they have any recommendations, post job listings, talk to virtual assistant companies, or search online for virtual assistant services.

Be ready to hire a real estate assistant

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s tempting to hire the first applicant. Not so fast! Before hiring, sit down and make a list of your needs and the tasks you want someone to perform. It will guide your search and help you find someone who’s the perfect fit.

Are you two months behind on data entry? Maybe you need help with social media management. Identify your top priorities for now and tasks for later, as you’ll want to hire someone who has the experience to get them done.

Have systems in place for your real estate virtual assistant

Before bringing someone on as a team member, have policies in place for training and onboarding. These procedures should cover everything they need to know to do the job.

Get to know the virtual assistant

You wouldn’t let a tenant move in without checking their references, so why hire an assistant without doing the same? You may be hiring them to save you time, but if they fail to input data correctly, are rude to a tenant, or lack follow-through, they could end up hurting your business.

Whether you’re hiring someone through a virtual assistant service or from a referral, talk to them about their experience, ask detailed questions about the software they’ve worked with, and call references.

Virtual assistants and your real estate business

Whether you’re ready to outsource mundane tasks, want someone to scour the MLS for deals, or hate the customer service aspects of owning property, knowing what a virtual assistant can do to help your business puts you on the track for success.

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