How To Free Up Unproductive Time By Outsourcing Real Estate Admin Tasks
Every business has long lists of administrative tasks that have to be done. More often than not, they are not exactly the tasks that you or your team are queueing up to get done.
But they are things that are often vital to your organisation.
The real estate business is no different in this regard, and in many ways probably has a lot more admin tasks to complete on a daily basis.
As a business owner, you would probably not be surprised how much of your time is taken up by non-Dollar productive tasks.
What we mean by this, is tasks that have to be done, but don’t directly involve bringing in more revenue.
Hiring additional staff will not always be an option, even if they were only part time.
Between salary, holiday, superannuation, sick pay, office space and equipment you’re quickly looking at a costly investment.
That doesn’t mean though that you should continue spending your time on unproductive tasks.
With the help of a dedicated real estate virtual assistant, you can still get all the work done, in a very cost effective way.
To help you with this process, we have put together this detailed guide. Alternatively, you can pick up the phone and talk to one of our advisors at Outsource Workers. We can have you up and running with a VA in less than 2 weeks.
Real Estate Admin Tasks That Take Up Too Much Of Your Day
Unless you have sat down and kept track of all the admin tasks you perform, you’ll probably struggle to come up with an exact figure. Is it 5 hours a week or 20? Could it be more than that?
Now, just imagine how much extra time you could dedicate to making sales and talking to clients and vendors. Or trying to find new deals that improve your bottom line.
In our experience, most realtors will spend between 10 and 15 hours of their working week doing highly repetitive tasks that don’t bring in revenue directly.
But just because they aren’t productive, doesn’t mean that they don’t have to be done.
First, let’s provide some definitions.
Productive Vs. Unproductive Work
The list of these individual tasks is very long, and will likely differ from business to business.
But the important thing for you to do is to spend some time on identifying them for your company.
Productive tasks are those that directly lead to a sale, deal, business transaction or better service agreements.
When you talk to a potential new seller about listing their property, that will, all going well, lead to a new property on your books.
Similarly, talking to a graphic design and print agency about getting new brochures made up at a better price, will also improve your bottom line.
However, spending 30 minutes on the phone to arrange for a photographer and an ad placement in your local paper is not the best use of your time. Yet, your day will constantly be filled with such distractions.
Let’s look at some more examples.
Common Admin Tasks
The following is a list of very common admin tasks you will encounter:
- Schedule and confirm appointments
- Take meeting notes
- Manage email marketing
- Take care of travel arrangements
- Listing Updates
- Client and vendor follow up
- Proof reading communication materials
- Following up on invoices
This is by far not a full list of what you’re likely spending your time on. But they should be able to give you an idea what to keep an eye out for.
Further down on this page we’ll look at some tips to help you quantify these tasks and the time you spend on them.
The important thing to understand though, is that they are not productive and are best handed over to someone else to free up your day.
How VAs Can Fill The Gap
As already mentioned above, hiring new staff is quite costly, as it goes beyond just the salary that you need to account for.
The good news is that the majority of admin tasks can be completed with little more than a computer, Internet connection and a phone.
That means that the person you hire for this work, doesn’t actually have to be sitting in your office. Or even in the country for that matter.
This is where virtual assistants create a perfect bridge.
They are far more cost effective than hiring locally, and just because they aren’t in your office doesn’t mean the work won’t be completed.
As long as they have the right skill set, they will make your life easier and help you become far more productive on a daily basis.
Prioritise The Most Time Consuming Tasks
In order to work out what tasks are taking up most of your time and which are best to outsource you have to first analyse and prioritise all admin tasks.
The only way to do this in a somewhat scientific way is to spend a week or two keeping track of everything work related you do.
The important thing is that you need to keep track of everything and then identify the productive vs unproductive tasks.
Ultimately, what you’re looking out for is very repetitive regular tasks that can be easily systematised.
This is the perfect combination that allows you to easily hand over the work to someone else with clear and straightforward instructions.
In this section we’ll present some easy to implement and actionable tips that you can get started with today. The sooner you can identify your most time consuming unproductive work, the sooner you can free yourself of it.
Break Down Your Day
Before you get started, you should write down some of the most common tasks you do throughout the day.
Especially if there are things that you do on a regular basis at a specific time.
For example, you might check your email for meeting requests every morning from 9:00 to 9:20. Or you take care of sorting through your digital invoices once a week for 45 minutes.
You will probably identify quite a lot of these tasks. But don’t be surprised if at the end of this analysis period you end up with dozens more admin tasks that surprise you.
The more tasks you identify before you move onto the next step the easier this analysis and prioritisation will be.
Keep A Journal
This can be in paper form, a calendar app, spreadsheet or in your business diary.
Whatever you feel is easiest for you to keep track of all your daily activities. Because that is essentially what you need to do.
The more detail you can collect the better.
One way of doing this is to remind yourself every hour to quickly write down what tasks you did and how long they took.
Don’t wait until the end of the day though, as you’ll likely forget some details.
You also want to try to get into a habit of using the same descriptions for repeating tasks. This will make it so much easier to add up all the tasks at the end of the week or two week period.
Analyse Time On Admin Tasks
Once you have a full week of data to work with you should do some detailed analysis. Take a look at all the admin task and start with those that stand out the most as being repeated regularly.
For each of these tasks, go through your journal and calculate how much time you spent on each. If you’ve kept a tidy journal then this shouldn’t take all that much time.
We strongly suggest that you do this using a spreadsheet.
The reason is that with all the data collected in this format, you’ll be able to easily sort the admin tasks by the amount of time you spend on them.
The end result will be a long list of non-Dollar productive tasks that you can now bundle and hand over to a virtual assistant.
With just a little bit of on boarding and training you can free up a lot of your time to spend working on your business rather than in it.
Let’s take a look at some tasks that take up quite some time.
Organise New Client Listings
Once you have signed up a new client listing then a lot of the time consuming work begins. You’ve successfully gone through the sale process, but you won’t get far without making a detailed listing.
Here are a few time consuming things your VA can take care of.
Gather Detailed Information About The Property
Before you list the property there are a lot of details you need that will interest the buyers.
Some of this you will have already gathered as part of your initial conversations with the client.
However, there is a ton of information that can go into a listing.
Everything from square footage, year built, insulation specifications, appliances, overall property size, types of windows, and the list goes on.
It’s quite likely that you already have a standard list of specs that you put on all your listings.
To make sure that you have all the information before you list the property, you can have your VA contact the owner and go through the questions.
Organise For Professional Photos To Be Taken
This might not be something you do for every listing, but for the higher end market ones it would be common.
A Lot of the time this involves liaising with a photographer and the owners to arrange for an ideal date and time.
This will also involve giving instructions to the photographer about what type and amount of photos are required.
If you’re creating a professional brochure for an open house, then you will need a different image style than for purely an online listing.
Set Up The Listing On Your Website
Even with the latest online tools, setting up a listing on your website and all the other property search sites takes time.
It may only be 20 minutes each time, but when you add these all up over the weeks, it’s a lot of distraction.
The process of uploading images, text and contact info is a very systematic task that never really changes. As long as you create a detailed step-by-step instruction list of this process it will be very easy to hand this over to your VA.
Especially when you have a lot of listings coming up, this can become extremely time consuming.
Order Printed Materials For An Open House
This can be even more time consuming than uploading information to your online listings.
It involves contacting a graphic design company to provide all the necessary information with photos text, logo and specifics about the when and where.
Ideally, you will be working with a standard layout, but this still means that someone has to provide all the information and proof it before it goes to print.
The last thing you want is delays in getting the information sent out and then missing an error on the brochure.
If you have identified a lot of time being spent on these tasks then you shouldn’t waste any more time.
You can talk to our team at Outsource Workers to find out how you can hire a VA to start taking this work off your schedule in less than 2 weeks.
Take The Hassle Out Of Arranging Your Daily Schedule
Every business owner faces a busy morning, often before any other staff arrive, to try and work out how to arrange the day.
You’re likely to find that you’ve somehow double booked yourself and need to spend more time to make alternative arrangements.
Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour trying to prioritise and all this before you’ve received even a single call. That’s when it really gets complicated as urgent matters creep in that somehow need to fit onto your schedule.
If you’re really organised and use a calendar app, then this does become a lot easier. But it’s still quite a time consuming task, that you could really do without.
Let’s take a look at how a VA can help you out and free up a lot of admin time.
Schedule Meetings With Clients And Vendors
Trying to call and get through to clients and vendors can be an awful lot of hassle.
You end up on hold or need to call back at a later time, just to face the same situation again. These are distracting times, when you could really be focusing better on other things.
If you know you need to meet a couple of vendors and arrange a property inspection with a client, then way not have someone else spend the time on the phone. All they need to do is confirm a time and place, and make sure you have a free slot available on your calendar.
This does mean that you have to keep a very up-to-date calendar with exact details of when, where and with whom you are meeting. Your VA can then keep it fully updated and fill free slots.
The result is that you can arrive into work and get a clear view of your day.
Check Emails For Meeting Requests
Rather than spending time yourself with clients and vendors to figure out appointment times you can then just ask them to send you a quick meeting request email.
Your VA can pick this up and take care of making the actual arrangements.
When you get into a habit of this, the people you do business with also become accustomed to the process.
It’s simple and effective and when it results in less double bookings and cancellations, everyone is happy.
With an email management VA also assigned to managing your calendar, you can free up a huge amount of time.
You no longer have to scan through dozens or hundreds of emails to make sure you don’t miss an appointment.
It’s simple, effective and very easily implemented.
Start Your Day With An Organised View
Because there is a small time difference of 2 hours to the Philippines you can actually gain a big advantage.
Chances are that you will still receive meeting requests and urgent meeting invites and reschedules outside of your working hours.
Your VA can review your entire email inbox while you’re still in bed, and make any updates to your calendar. By the time you get to check your email and calendar all the updates have been made, so that you can focus on more important things.
The time that you free up can then actually be used to schedule more client meetings as you won’t have all the distractions and stress of trying to figure out who is looking for your attention.
Keep Buyers And Sellers Updated On Progress
When it comes to real estate transactions you’re constantly juggling requests for information and progress from all sides of a deal.
Add in vendors and other service providers looking for your time and you can end up spending hours of your day just providing updates and relaying information.
Chasing your tail like this doesn’t help your bottom line and will seriously distract from your ability to prepare for sales meetings and working on business deals that will grow your business.
The solution is actually quite simple. Once you have a decision or any kind of update on a listing, then pass that information on to your VA who will then make sure the information is passed on to the right people.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Make Arrangements For Viewings
Most of the time you will possibly make some arrangements with a seller that certain days and times are kept free to allow interested parties to view a property.
But sometimes these time slots don’t work and specific requests are made.
If it’s a serious potential buyer, then you really don’t want to let that opportunity slip.
Trying to get hold of the seller and make the arrangements for an alternate time is not always that straightforward.
This might take multiple calls to get right, and that is not the best use of your time.
Because it’s not actually sales related conversations you need to have, a VA is ideally suited to take on this task of making the calls and finding a time that suits everyone.
Provide Updates On Progress
It happens quite often that buyers and sellers contact you on a daily basis for updates.
This could be down to a lack of viewings, or maybe a huge amount of interest. Especially your clients will be wondering how well the listing is doing.
Generally speaking such calls should not come directly to you. But it’s still very important to provide all parties with updates on the status.
When you proactively do this and tell everyone involved from the start that you will contact them every other day, then you can avoid many such incoming calls.
However, it’s a much better option to have a VA make most of these calls. You can simply provide them with general information on the status of a sale, and what the next steps are.
This will keep your clients happy, and reduce the amount of time you spend on the phone.
Keep Your Online Listings Fresh And Updated
Pretty much all real estate businesses will not just add their portfolio on their business website.
With numerous very popular national property search websites out there, you cannot afford to not list on several of these.
Over the years, the tools to upload and update your listings have become a lot easier to use. But when you multiply the number of sites you post on by the number of properties on your books, you will quickly see how much time and effort is involved.
Because the majority of people these days use the Internet to search for suitable homes, you simply cannot afford to have your listings to remain outdated.
Keeps Information Relevant And Current
There are numerous reasons why you would be updating a listing.
Most commonly, it is for the overall status of the listing.
Maybe you have accepted an offer and want to designate it Sale Agreed or Under Offer. And ideally you will be able to mark some as Sold on a regular basis.
By keeping this sort of information accurate and up-to-date you can reduce the amount of enquiries on listings that are no longer available.
Having many properties marked as sold also shows that you’re successfully processing a lot of deals, which is a great sign to show potential clients.
You might also find that other relevant information was not listed on the first day because it wasn’t available.
Adding such data online can only help online viewers to get a full and clear picture of a property.
The More Listings The More Time Is Involved
Realestate.com.au, Homesales.com.au, Property.com.au are just 3 of the most popular online search listings.
There are at least 5 more that are very commonly used and the ideal thing for you to do is get on all of these platforms.
This maximises your exposure to online search traffic, increasing the chance of potential buyers finding your offers.
However, with so many listings to keep updated on a regular basis you will quickly spend many hours each week making sure they are all populated with the latest information.
Having the ability to hand such tasks over to a dedicated VA is the only way to really stay on top of it, without being constantly distracted.
Systematised And Highly Repetitive Tasks
The good thing is that keeping online listings updated is a very systematised process.
This means that you always do the same steps from login to upload and text modification. As a result it’s an ideal task to hand it over to a dedicated VA.
With this cost effective approach you can make sure that all new and existing properties are added online to as many websites as you think is beneficial.
It will no longer take up your time, or that of other sales people you have working with you.
The important thing is that you create a standard process for updating the content, as well as getting all the information in one place.
This way your VA will always have the latest information to keep things as accurate as possible.
Start With One VA And Then Build A Team
The great thing with outsourcing is that it’s a very easily scalable way to do business.
We wouldn’t recommend immediately starting with a team, but to rather get the process set up with one VA. Once that VA is trained and working independently you can take two approaches.
First, you can build up that assistant’s hours to a full time status.
That makes sense as you don’t have to go through the training process again. Getting them to take on a few other tasks will also make training more efficient, especially if those tasks overlap.
However, that can put you at risk if the VA was ever sick, or takes a holiday or even moves on to another employer.
Reducing that risk is best approached with building up a team of VAs with overlapping tasks.
Outsource Most Time Consuming Admin Tasks First
The above time tracking exercise will have given you enough information to figure out how much time you spend on different tasks.
Those that take up most of your time should be the highest priority.
In the first week or two of hiring a VA, you will probably still need to have some involvement.
This will include training and proofing the first jobs that are completed, and then providing some feedback.
However, once your VA is up to speed, you will be amazed at how quickly time is freed up in your daily and weekly work.
Bundle Tasks That Can Be Performed By One VA
You will probably find that there are several similar tasks that you can bundle together. Individually they may only take up a little bit of time. But once you add them all together you might be surprised how much is involved.
You should try and find as many tasks as possible that are closely related and similar in nature.
These bundles are ideal to hand over to one VA, rather than splitting them across multiple people. It reduces training time and helps provide a bit more diversity.
Unless there are a few very time consuming tasks, it’s always best to create such bundles.
In the long run it makes it easier to build up a team of assistants where each one can take up additional work should one of the others be unavailable.
Scale Your VA Team
Once you have one VA trained and working at least 20 to 30 hours per week, then it makes very good business sense to hire a second or more VAs.
Obviously this will depend on how busy your company is.
Having two or more VAs does bring its advantages though.
First of all, you reduce the risk of having someone out sick or on holiday, or simply moving on.
If you have a second assistant on your team, they should be able to take up at least the most important priorities without creating business disruptions.
Secondly, as your business grows you have far more flexibility, as you won’t find yourself slipping back into admin tasks because your VA is working at full capacity.
Once your first VA is fully trained and working without much supervision, it is very easy to find a second team member.
You can even use the first VA to help out with the training to free up more of your time.
Next, let’s take a look at what to focus on for a real estate VA.
How To Hire A Real Estate VA
On our homepage we go through the exact process involved in job posting, vetting and interviewing a VA, so we won’t cover it all again here. But when you’re looking for a VA to specifically take on some real estate admin tasks, then it makes sense to tweak that process.
Before you can do this you have to complete the time tracking exercise outlined above. It’s absolutely critical that you fully understand what the tasks are that you will outsource.
Otherwise you will run the risk of hiring someone with the wrong skills and experience level. And that can end up wasting a lot of time when you realise you need to hire someone else instead.
Here is what you need to do.
Key Skills To Target
This will very much depend on the exact tasks that you plan to outsource.
However, one thing you want to make sure applicants are skilled in is very good written and spoken English.
Most admin tasks will likely involve writing and certainly will require following detailed instructions.
But they may also be required to call clients or vendors to make appointments or schedule a meeting.
For the specific tasks you want to focus on what tools are required.
For example, if you want to outsource the process of uploading listings online, then it would be ideal if you hired someone that has experience with that.
Or maybe you need some help with bookkeeping and following up on invoices. Then experience with accounting software will be a very important skill to list in your job posting.
Priorities For The Interview
There are two things you should try and focus on in the interview process. These will help you filter out a lot of candidates and ideally will make just a few stand out that you will consider for hiring.
First of all, you want to figure out how good their English skills are.
Filipinos learn English all throughout school, but there will still be different levels of confidence. So, the more you can get a conversation going the better you can assess how well they can speak English.
You can even introduce a little role play exercise where you ask them to prepare a short phone conversation to make an appointment.
Secondly, you want to figure out how well they can follow instructions in written form. Set up a simple exercise where you outline a task.
Using a screen sharing tool you can follow in real time how they follow those instructions.
This will also show you how well they actually understand the tools you need them to use.
Getting Started With Outsource Workers
If you have never hired a VA, then the task can be a bit daunting.
It’s not something that can be done in a few days and will likely take up to 6 weeks to complete.
Without the right experience you could also quickly end up with the wrong person only to have to do it all over again.
One of the best choices you have is to have Outsource Workers take care of the entire process so that you don’t have to worry about all the details.
We take care of the hiring and all the other things like holiday and sick pay.
Within 2 weeks you can have a dedicated VA who has gone through some basic training. You can then do the on boarding by giving them your specific instructions for the tasks you need done.
You receive a monthly invoice and everything else is taken care of. It couldn’t be any simpler, so just pick up the phone and talk to one of our advisers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Over the years we have encountered a lot of very common questions.
These are mostly asked by business owners that are planning to hire their first VA and are a bit uncertain about it.
The following are the most common questions, but if you have any others that you need answers to then don’t hesitate to call us today. Our team has years’ of experience and will be able to advise you on the entire process.
How Long Does It Take To Hire A Real Estate VA?
Even if you’ve hired people locally for your office, the process for hiring an outsourced VA in the Philippines is a bit different.
If you haven’t done this before then you should plan for about 4 to 6 weeks to advertise, screen, interview and hire someone.
Alternatively you can let our team at Outsource Workers take care of it all and be up and running in less than 2 weeks.
Will They Understand Your Location And Industry?
Filipino culture is very similar Western countries, but you will still need to focus carefully to identify prospects that have experience and interest specifically in real estate and the Australian market.
For larger cities in Australia it will be easier to find a VA that has experience there.
Very localised knowledge and experience may be harder to come by.
However, if they have Australian property market experience, then training them on your location will be relatively easy.
Can They Work Independently?
Yes, this is absolutely the case.
There will be an initial training and on boarding phase, but once you’ve got through this stage they will require very little supervision.
Keeping in touch and providing regular feedback is still going to be an important factor.
But that’s no different than what you’re probably doing with your local staff as well.
Will Their English Be Good Enough To Talk To Clients?
English is one of the two official languages of the Philippines.
It is extensively taught in schools and colleges, which means the majority of the population are very comfortable reading, writing and speaking in English.
If you have admin tasks that involve speaking with clients, then it’s important to focus your interview process on how well the candidates’ spoken English is.
The more natural it is the better suitable they will be.
If you need any help at all with the process of hiring your first VA, or just want the convenience of having someone else take care of this process, then call Outsource Workers today for a free consultation.
You’ll get all your questions answered and could be up and running with a VA in less than 2 weeks.