How to Hire the Right Admin Assistant

Why Does Every Realtor Need an Admin Assistant?

You are probably like most of the realtors I talk with that are struggling. They say they are not making enough money or are working too much for the money they are making. The answer to solving both of these issues is the same: hire an admin assistant.  

When I tell these same realtors this answer I frequently hear either “I don’t have the time to hire and train someone,“ or “I don’t have the money to hire someone.”

  • If you are working too much and cannot invest the time to hire an assistant you will always be working too much and never enjoy the freedom that I do.
  • If you think you don’t have the money to hire someone set aside some money from your commission checks and start with a part time person; even one or two days a week.        

As a realtor you do not make the most money by sitting in front of a computer screen, organizing files, juggling a schedule, or record keeping. You will make more money and have more time for your family, friends or personal pursuits when the majority of your time is spent in front of people.

This means you need to be spending most all of your time in front of sellers in listing presentations, attending events where you can spread the word about what you do and meeting new prospects, in front of buyers, or at closings.

There are only so many hours in a day and without an assistant there is a ceiling on your income. You can only break through this ceiling and rise to higher income by delegating all other work that you can.  

Some realtors have never hired or managed an employee and your first hire can be an intimidating challenge. However with my system the process is about following some easy instructions and after you have your first hire under your belt you will be an employer on your way to building a business.    

Your first hire should be an Administrative Assistant who can wear a lot of hats. Aspiring agents eager to gain experience are ideal in this role. Since bringing in business is your top priority, you will need to be very careful about selecting this person.

Virtual Assistant versus Live Admin Assistant

Disregard any studies that state that companies enjoy higher productivity using virtual assistants. Successful real estate entrepreneurs require tight teamwork only found with up-close, live and in person employees.

VA’s (Virtual Assistants) cannot do the same tasks that an in-office assistant can. If you  want  to  take  your  business  to  the  next  level,  you need someone completely focused on your professional needs every minute you are paying them. No matter how organized someone is, working at home will offer distractions not encountered in the workplace. You will also spend more time communicating tasks with someone not in the same room.

With a ‘live’ admin assistant you will be a legal employer. Schedule a visit with your accountant and get everything in place to employ and pay an employee or employees and the required taxes.   

Create Your Shopping List / Perfect Avatar  

Whether you choose to hire an assistant with a real estate or administrative background, you will soon learn that a skilled and dedicated staff is like gold. Your first hire means a lot to your business and to your personal comfort as you grow that business. Look for someone who is calm, organized, and punctual and has great listening skills.

Start staffing with an Administrative Assistant who can do some of the less specialized, mundane tasks that must be performed on a regular basis. Your assistant should be an especially friendly, customer service-oriented and an organized individual who can act as a professional front-of-the-house face and/or voice for your firm, simultaneously managing essential services like email, photocopying and the telephone, along with other company business.

Choose an assistant with a flair for people and a ready smile who is both resourceful and reliable. (Humans are so advanced that they can ‘hear’ the smile in your voice, even on the telephone, and react accordingly.)

This first employee might be a person you will wish to promote internally as your company grows, or someone hired strictly to keep email responses and the coffee both flowing at once. An appreciative leader can obtain remarkable professional service from a loyal assistant, enabling company executives to focus on growing more business. You may wish to confer a different title on this individual, like Executive Assistant or Office Manger, according to the current practices in your area.

People can be your greatest asset in business. They can also be your most damaging liability.
When you hire smart, manage correctly, and treat people right, you will reap the rewards. Take any shortcuts here, vacillate with boundaries, policy and expectations, or break any promises, and you could pay a heavy price.

Hiring your first admin assistant is exhilarating and can change your business and personal life. You can make more money, have more freedom, and fall in love (or back in love) with selling real estate. But before you click over to Craigslist or a job board to post an ad, there are some things you need to know that will make this a dream come true instead of a nightmare you want to forget.  

Discover the personality of your perfect admin assistant: FREE CLICK HERE.   

How to Create the Job Description

Create a list of all the duties and tasks that you do now that you expect your new admin assistant to take over. Also if there are any other tasks you would have an admin assistant do that you are currently not doing.   

Determine the Workload

Estimate the time it will take to do these tasks on a weekly basis. If this work can be performed in only 20 hours per week you might only need to start an admin assistant on a part time basis.   If there seems to be more than 40 hours per week of work (and I would be wondering how you are pulling this off now!) you can expand with additional employees as needed.


One of the first duties that come to mind for an administrative assistant is prospecting. This could be calling FSBO lists, expired listings, or other prospects. However there are a myriad of tasks that can be assigned to this person that do not involve prospecting. These duties can include data entry, scheduling, answering the phone, keeping records, organizing and placing ads to name a few. Basically most everything you do besides listing and selling real estate can be delegated.

There are people that have prospecting phone experience and skills that are not proficient at the other tasks. And there are people that make great admin assistants that will never have what it takes to prospect. If you find one who is effective at both, you will be very lucky. So you need to decide what you are hiring for.

A phone prospector can easily work from home. Phone prospecting can even be outsourced online. The hours could be limited or pay could be based only on appointments set.   

Your admin assistant that is going to perform all the other tasks in addition to, or besides, prospecting generally needs to be on site. This means you need office space in your house if you work from home. Keep in mind that hiring someone that will be coming into your home will require an extra level of trust.      

Make a list of the daily tasks you will have an admin assistant doing. Your goal is to be attending as many listing presentations as possible and possibly working with buyers so you want an admin assistant that can eventually take over most everything else.  

These duties can include:

  • Basic Bookkeeping
  • Schedule management
  • Marketing
  • Managing social media
  • Contact and Client database management
  • Answering the phone and making calls
  • Office organization

Desired Versus Required Skills

Once you decide what this person is going to do you can create the perfect candidate avatar.   You can base this on your personality type or one that would fit well with your own.    

Determine what experience is desired versus required.

Must Have Skills (Required)

Examples:

  • Proficient with MS Word and Excel
  • Familiar with using social media
  • Customer or client phone experience

Extras (Desired skills)

For example:

  • real estate office experience
  • prospecting experience
  • familiar with listing contracts, offers, and closings
  • CRM  experience

Personality Characteristics

In addition to hiring a personality that matches or fits well with your style there are a few characteristics that every person you ever hire should have.

A positive attitude:  Your admin assistant will frequently be the face of your business. They can be the first person a prospect has contact with your business and the experience is a ‘make or break’ point.

A good work ethic:  A person with a good work ethic understands that they need to deliver what you want in order to get what they want. They are punctual, loyal, and cooperative.  

Self esteem: Is this candidate outgoing and not afraid to look you in the eye and speak directly to you? While most people are a little nervous in a job interview you can usually evaluate their body language to distinguish the difference between nerves and low self esteem. You want someone with an outgoing personality and some confidence to represent your business.  

Drama free: Drama free can be a bit difficult to detect when hiring. But believe me a drama addicted person will not only bring their personal issues into the workplace they often will cause drama within your workplace.  

Define Parameters: Policy and Procedures  

Create a job description for prospective candidates and review this again with your selected candidate. You want to set the tone for expectations and requirements. Both you and your new admin assistance will have expectations. The closer reality is to expectations the better the potential for success is.

Define success and use a bonus system. Success could be defined as hiring an admin assistant that performs to or beyond your expectation. But define these expectations in numbers whenever possible to give you and your assistant measured goals to strive towards.

Create primary and secondary responsibilities. For example answering the phone would take precedent over entering data.

When policies are in place and communicated clearly employees feel secure and there is far less confusion.

Conduct a Short Preliminary Phone Interview

When you have selected potential candidates you can conduct preliminary phone interviews.

You can do several things on this call:

  1. Ask if they are currently employed (if you cannot determine this from their resume and cover letter.)
  2. Gauge their phone skills and etiquette.
  3. Get a perspective of this person that is not appearance based.
  4. Get answers to your questions.

Taking notes and recording these calls can be helpful. At the end of the call tell the candidate you will be contacting your final choices for ‘in person’ interviews. Do not schedule any ‘in person’ interviews while on these calls. This enables you to compare notes on candidates and also better positions each candidate’s mindset. They need to feel they had to earn an ‘in person’ interview and that if they get an interview it was only after your careful deliberation. This builds value for the interview and job and reduces the number of interview ‘no shows.’  And yes you will probably have some ‘no shows.’   

Let each candidate know that you will contact them with your decision either way. Send candidates that you do not select an email thanking them for applying and their time.   

Scheduling Interviews

If you are going to be working with your assistant in a home office environment, and you do not have access to a business office where other people will be present, conduct interviews in a public place. Scout out a restaurant, coffee shop, or other location with a quiet table that is also in full view of patrons or employees. Reserve the table if possible.

Scheduling a few interviews back to back can save time. Allow time between interviews so applicants are not running into each other.  

Interviewing Candidates

A job interview is like a first date. A candidate’s behavior should be the best you will ever see from him or her. If any of their actions or communications are not acceptable or make you cringe, remember this is as good as it gets!

Candidate Red Flags

  • Changes the interview appointment more than once.
  • Arrives late to the interview; A candidate must be on time and prepared. A person that is late to a job interview will be late to work.
  • Does not greet you with a smile, direct eye contact, and a handshake.  
  • Does not have a pen or pencil to complete the application.
  • Appears to lack confidence.
  • Demonstrates any behavior that is socially unacceptable, unprofessional, or that is annoying to you!
  • Is not dressed for the part. This is the best appearance they will ever have.

Application

Every applicant should be handed a job application in person at the time of the interview. The application should require a signature that demonstrates the candidate attests to telling the truth and gives permission to you to conduct any background or credit checks.

What to check on a job application:

  1. Check application for signature.
  2. Make sure print is legible before the candidate leaves the office.
  3. Compare home address and contact information with candidate’s resume.
  4. Compare education dates, military service records, and previous employment history with the candidate’s resume. Note any discrepancies.
  5. Compare education dates with birth date.  
  6. Compare addresses of residency with time periods and locations of employer.  
  7. Verify education type is offered at listed educational institution. Verify diplomas and degrees.

  

Verify and Check References

Doing this before an interview could help you prevent wasting time with people that do not check out. In addition to verifying dates of employment ask references open-ended questions such as “What are the candidate’s best strengths?” or “What were their weaknesses?”

Keep in mind that to perform a background check beyond references or searching what’s available on the web could require written permission from the candidate in some jurisdictions; a credit check is a perfect example, and if you plan on doing one include the text on your job applications that gives you permission to do so.    

Fall Back in Love with Real Estate

Follow these instructions and trust your instincts in the hiring process. The right assistant can rock your world. Your assistant is an important partnership. You will depend on them for business representation, organization, and accuracy.
 
Hiring the right assistant was like a rocket boost to my business. I was able to focus on the tasks I enjoyed and rekindled the excitement I had when I first got into the business.  In spite of the cost of an assistant I made far more money. And I had more time to spend with my family and friends. I want the same thing for you.

Click here to attend my webinar and learn more.   

Tatiana Londono
Star Of HGTV’s “The Property Shop”, Master Real Estate Broker at Londono Realty Group and Realtor Coach and Founder Of Real Estate High Rollers Academy
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