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 Virtual Assistant vs. In-House
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Fri, Mar 16th, 2007 12:09 am

I got to speak to the agent we know who thinks she's losing her assistant (post from a few days ago).  So here's a follow up.

The agent pays her assistant $50k/year and doesn't think with the market slowing down that she can afford to give her a raise right now to keep her.

My opinon is that $50k/yr can get a lot of stuff done if you manage it properly.

When we brought on a full-time processor we didn't have a clue what we were doing.  Our office manager suggested we just pay her a percentage of our sales- so we gave her 20% of every transaction (because that's what the agent she worked for before us did).

Although she was a team player, all she really did for us was process files (transaction management).

It seemed like a deal at the time but as our sales grew we ultimately ended up paying her more than $50k/year (and an experienced full-time transaction coordinator in our market can be had for $36k/year if salaried).

When we started looking at VA's I called a local one and rattled off everything I needed to do.  She suggested hiring multiple specialists and felt my "biggest bang for the buck" based on what I was telling her was to start with processing contracts.

The Virtual Assistant we hired charges us $400 per transaction but it can vary depending on what you have her doing for you.  Based on last years sales we would have paid her just over $17k (a $35k/year savings for the same service we had in-house).

The thing with the VA is that I really thought it would mean we had to do 20% more work to get that savings, yet I really don't feel like that's been the case yet.

What's also nice is if you have a slow month, a quick/easy deal or something small you just don't use the VA.  And if you do have staff, they're great for overflow.

The only catch to using a VA like we do is you need to be using  transaction management software like Settlement Room.  Without a common web-based platform everyone can use it's very hard to work with a remote person.

If you prepay for 75 transactions, Settlement Room comes out to $7/per so it's not a huge expense and it had a lot of perks for the clients.  What I would say is look at the tools you use and find a VA that's certified in it (Top Producer, Imprev, Sharper Agent, etc).

If anyone wants recommendations, I'm happy to make them.  You can also check Mike Russer's REVA network (REVA = Real Estate Virtual Assistants)

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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in tech sales which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director. In 2011, he launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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