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Remote employees are a force to be reckoned with. About 12.7% of people in the US work as remote employees, while about 28% do at least a part of their work from home. During the pandemic, we saw that, in most industries, workers could just start showing up on collaboration platforms from home, and the productivity wouldn’t drop. A strong argument can be made about real estate as one such industry.
To further support this claim, we’re witnessing the rise of virtual assistants. No, we’re not talking about chatbots and AI (although these are also quite useful). Instead, what we’re referring to are remote employees acting as assistants to real estate agents and professionals in general.
Here are some pros to help you understand why this revolution is happening right now and some cons to help explain some of the challenges.
Pros of Virtual Assistants in Real Estate
Now, it’s more than clear that there’s a reason more and more professionals want to hire real estate virtual assistants. Here are a few advantages of this type of employment that are just too great to ignore.
Virtual assistants are cheaper to employ than traditional assistants. They don’t occupy office space and don’t charge you for travel fees. They also don’t increase the cost of utilities and other overhead expenses.
Another hidden cost saving is that you don’t have to buy their equipment. Sure, you can chip in for a new laptop or a phone, but this is not an industry norm. When applying for a position, it’s assumed that they have all the equipment (which is rudimentary, to begin with – no one expects them to have a gaming PC and high-res camera).
It may not seem like much, but it does make a world of difference.
Global Talent Access
Remote employees are pretty simple to hire, and due to the nature of the modern real estate business, you no longer have to hire locally. It’s not like locals will visit these properties in person. A remote virtual assistant can just check the listings (like a regular assistant would) and reach out to the parties in question.
Even regarding inspections, a virtual assistant can just negotiate with the local plumber and electrician. They can issue them a work order in a digital format and receive photos and reports similarly.
Most importantly, remote work and hybrid work allow many opportunities for people with disabilities (who would otherwise be unable to travel to the office or find it challenging). The model also benefits working moms.
Since they don’t need to come by the office, why not let people work the way they’re the most productive? This means remote employees can organize their own working hours and their own working spaces.
Now, when it comes to tasks that are not time-sensitive, you can work with deadlines, which gives you even more flexibility.
Keep in mind that a lot of people choose to be remote employees not for the pay but for a chance to work this way.
The Majority of Tasks Support This Work Model
As we’ve already mentioned, the majority of tasks support this work model to begin with. All they need is access to the internet and any device.
Most of their work will come down to all sorts of analytics, administrative support, and market research, all of which are tasks that can be handled remotely without much difference.
Moreover, even if you want to dump tasks like sending your clothes to dry cleaners and picking up your coffee, there are so many delivery services in your area that a virtual assistant can contact. In other words, not even this is a real obstacle anymore.
Cons of Virtual Assistants in Real Estate
Now, talking about real cons is a bit dishonest, seeing as there are no real disadvantages to virtual assistants in real estate; however, some challenges need to be addressed. With that in mind, here are some challenges, bottlenecks, and problems that may be, at least partially, endemic to virtual assistants in real estate.
Technical glitches can be a huge issue. They may cause trouble and disrupt communication. Either way, this is something that you definitely have to learn how to deal with.
The fact that they’re from all over the globe also means that they might not have access to the most reliable internet. Also, some areas are notorious for numerous scams, so an assistant who reaches out from there might send the wrong message. Still, this challenge shouldn’t be too hard to face in the era of VPN.
Since they’re remote employees, you might have limited knowledge of them in the real world. This means you have to bring in someone who you have a limited capacity to vet or verify. Still, the way this is mostly handled is through the limited access feature on most collaboration tools and programs.
Also, if you hire through an agency, chances are they’ve already handled the vetting process, which is why you shouldn’t have an issue handling these things.
Training and Onboarding
Finding specialists is hard and when it comes to laypeople, it’s sometimes hard to get them familiar with the peculiarities of the real estate industry. Therefore, you might have to reinvent your training and onboarding, or at the very least, pay more attention to it.
Some entrepreneurs find it difficult to handle onboarding because of the lack of physical presence of employees. Still, if we’re being completely honest and realistic, even physically present employees may rely on digital resources.
In the end, virtual assistants are a trend that will stick for one simple reason – they’re convenient. The employment model is beneficial to everyone, from employees who have more opportunities to real estate agents who have a deeper pool to choose from and fewer costs to deal with. As for the challenges, the majority of these problems are either on the verge of solution or very solvable in the near future.