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By Ralph Roberts

RISMEDIA, May 22, 2007-Realtors often avoid hiring people during a market boom because they are afraid that when the market goes bust, they will be stuck paying personnel for doing nothing. Or, they will be forced into the unsavory position of having to lay off workers. But you do not always have to hire full- or part-time staff to work in-house.

You can staff up with virtual assistants, instead. Virtual assistants are freelancers who generally market their services on the Internet-that’s why they are called “virtual, but they are usually much more than assistants. They can handle anything from entering data to designing and managing websites to processing payroll and doing your taxes. And because they’re freelancers, you simply buy as much work as you need and pay a flat hourly fee or by-project fee.

You have now worries about paying extra taxes worker’s compensation, offering additional benefits, or paying for someone else’s vacations.

Most virtual assistants specialize in a certain field-writing, editing, Web design, transcription, database management, accounting, you name it. Many specialize in serving the real estate industry. Here is a short list of what a qualified Virtual Assistant can do for you:

Build an online transaction-management system
Design feature sheets and post cards
Implement a drip e-mail program
Create CMAs
Update websites with new listings
Design and maintain your blog
Provide sellers with feedback from showings
Manage leads
Manage email
Record IVR listings (800#)
Enhance listings on
Prepare holiday mailers
Order closing gifts
Screen phone calls
Assemble pre-listing packages
Design and personalizing listing presentations
Research properties
Update calendars and schedules

Each assistant typically has specialized training and all the resources required to perform a task better and more efficiently and affordably than you can do it yourself. They can be retained for one-time jobs or become an integral part of your team, devoting a certain number of hours to your business every month.

Following are some of the many benefits that virtual assistants offer:

You pay only for the time the assistant works for you
You don’t have to constantly find tasks to keep the person busy
You don’t withhold payroll taxes or pay into unemployment
You don’t pay for insurance or other benefits
They don’t take paid sick days, holidays, or vacation days
They come fully equipped, so you have no overhead on office space or additional equipment
You don’t have to fire them if they fail to perform-you just find someone else
Perhaps the biggest benefit of using virtual assistants is that they enable you to scale your business immediately when business conditions change. You can scale up when you have more work to do and scale back when business tapers off. When you have in-house employees, you can’t simply fire and rehire at a moment’s notice, and you end up with constant overhead.

Ralph R. Roberts, official spokesperson for Guthy-Renker Home and author of Flipping Houses For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons), can be contacted at 586.751.0000, or by e-mail at To learn more about Ralph, investing in real estate, and protecting yourself against real estate and mortgage fraud, visit