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9 Ways Virtual Assistants Can Help Real Estate Agents Who Negotiate Short Sales

Categories: Real Estate No Comments »

The “short” in short sale simply means that the amount paid at the sale of a property on behalf of the borrower for an outstanding mortgage is less than the amount owed. But the  short sale process in itself is time consuming for Real Estate Agents. In fact real estate professionals who specialize in short sale transactions are well aware that – patience, diligent follow up and a long wait – is the name of the game.

The current Real Estate Market

The numbers of distressed homeowners has been increasing. Leading to an upsurge in the number of potential short sales available to real estate agents. Many of these homeowners need someone to negotiate their short sale once they have decided that it’s the best option for them to use to avoid foreclosure. The sheer amount of documents to be prepared as well as the time spent on the phone going back and forth with lenders during a short sale negotiation makes investing in a Virtual Assistant (VA) a strategic decision.

Now, “How can hiring a VA efficiently and effectively assist in each short sale negotiation?”  To answer this question, let’s go through the short sale process and then point out crucial areas where a virtual assistant can complement the agent’s efforts.

The Short Sale Process

Short sales follows the same sequence of steps for those real estate agents who handle the entire process from start to finish. It begins with the agent marketing for prospective clients, screening them, signing up the listings, getting the lender’s specific short sale requirements and instructions, sending in the Authorization to Release Information document to the lender, listing the property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), scheduling showings and following up with potential buyer agents, preparing and submitting the short sale packet, following up with the lender once the short sale has been initiated, getting the short sale approved by the lender and finally, getting the buyer to close on the transaction.

1.) Marketing for clients: Agents have various ways to find clients such as sending out direct mails, going door knocking, internet marketing and so on. The VA can assist the agent by handling all the calls that come in as a result of the marketing effort. The VA can also schedule time for the prospects to speak with the agent in order to get all their real estate specific questions answered as well as follow up with them prior to an appointment to confirm their availability.

2.) Screening potential clients: To start off the process, the VA can do the screening process for the agent, to find out if they meet certain conditions that qualify them to sell their property as a short sale. These conditions are:

a. The home owner is experience a financial hardship.

b. The current value of the property is less than the amount owed to the lender.

If the potential client passes the VAs screening, the agent can spend time explaining the entire short sale process to the client and the steps to be taken.

3.) Preparing the listing documents: Once the homeowner has decided to move forward with a short sale, the VA then prepares the listing documents. This step frees the agent from spending time putting together the required paperwork. Once the paper work is done, the agent can meet with the homeowner to sign them up as a client.

4.) Getting the lender’s short sale requirements: During the first call to the lender the VA can get all the necessary information such as the fax number to send the authorization, the fax number to send the complete short sale packet, the status of the loan and pending foreclosure and so on.  Since the lender may not have already received the “Authorization to Release Information” document from the homeowner giving them the authority to speak with the agent and the VA, hence the VA can set up a three-way call whereby the lender gets to speak with the VA while the homeowner is on the line. The VA can be on the phone to do all this, instead of the agent, because it’s usually the same set of questions that each lender will be asked so this can be systemized and delegated to the VA.

5.) Sending in the Authorization to Release information: After the first call to the lender the VA can immediately get this document from the homeowner and send it in to the lender’s designated fax number. The authorization has to state that the homeowner has given both the agent and the VA the authority to talk to the lender on their behalf, its also necessary for the VA to send it in as soon as possible because it takes time for the authorization to take effect with the lender.

6.) Placing the property on the MLS: This step is self explanatory; essentially the VA enters in the listing information into the MLS along with the pictures of the property in order for it to be exposed to buyer for offers. The agent sets the property price at a level that will bring in a flood of buyer quickly, while the VA can takes care of all the time consuming data entry required to list the property on the MLS.

7.) Scheduling showings and following up with potential buyer agents: Assuming the agent listed the property at the right price, it won’t take long for buyer agents to start calling to take their buyers to see the property. The VA can take these calls and give the buyer agent all the necessary information for them to get access to the property. If the property is not vacant, the VA can find out from the homeowner the best time for the buyer agent and their client to come out to see the property. If the selling agent needs to be at the property during the showing, then the VA can make sure that the showing is scheduled at a time that is convenient for all parties. Also the VA can follow up with buyer agents after the showings to get instant feedback from them to see if their client is interested in buying the property.

8.) Preparing and submitting the short sale packet: Once the agent gets a suitable offer from a buyer and the homeowner accepts it, the VA can prepare all the necessary documents required by the lender for the short sale and then send it to the designated fax number. This process can be very time consuming because it is of utmost importance that the complete short sale packet is turned in. Hence it can be a benefit to the agent to know that they don’t have to be bugged down by this task because the VA can handle it.

9.) Following up with the lender once the short sale has been initiated: A couple of days after the short sale packet is submitted the VA can begin the process of regularly calling the lender to find out the status of the short sale. This is a very monotonous process because it involves being on hold for quite some time until someone picks up the phone. When this happens the VA can then transfer the call to the agent to find out the current status of the short sale. The initial follow up process continues for another period of time until the lender assigns a Loss Mitigation officer to the case. It is at this point that the agent actually begins the negotiation process. The loss mitigator then orders a Broker Price Opinion (BPO) to determine the value of the property and establish the amount the lender is willing to net as a result of the short sale. The entire short sale negotiation process can take typically between one month to four months (or more) depending on the lender hence the VA can handle all the follow up calls so the agents only gets on the calls once someone representing the lender is available.

Conclusion

The most productive activities for agents is getting new listings, negotiating contracts and closing transactions. As a short sale specialist two additional activities needs to be added to the three above which is ethically influencing the BPO so that the final value reflects the the current value of the property and also negotiating with the loss mitigator to approve the short sale in a timely manner in order for the buyer to close on the deal. Everything else in the short sale process should be delegated to the Virtual Assistant. By dividing the short sale process into those task that are most important and those that the VA can handle, it allows the agent to focus on what matters most – developing a track record as the “go to” agent for getting short sale negotiated and approved successfully.

Published on March 20, 2010
by Owen McGab Enaohwo
(OfficialWire)
LAUREL, MD

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Stress-Free Workplace With A Virtual Assistant

Categories: About VAs No Comments »

Hiring a virtual assistant to help you out in your business can mean a stress-free workplace for you

Because of the tough competition in business these days, it cannot be avoided that companies are really doing everything in their power to achieve profitability in business.

Because of the challenges businesses face, the workplace can become a very stressful place for business owners and workers.  Even without tough challenges, busy days can really cause people stress.  Thankfully, there is a wonderful option available for busy business owners: virtual assistance.

Virtual assistance refers to the services offered by virtual assistants.  Virtual assistants are workers that deliver services virtually through the internet.  There is a whole range of services that the VA can perform from simple and repetitive tasks to complicated tasks that require high skills.

Now as a busy business executive, you do not have to maintain a pressure-cooker of a workplace. You can release the pressure on you or on your employees by hiring a virtual assistant or several virtual assistants to help you out.

The virtual assistant can really minimize the stress in your workplace. How?  By doing the stressful, repetitive and time-consuming tasks. A virtual assistant can do many tasks for you so that you do not have to do tasks yourself. For example, if accounting tasks stress you out, having a virtual assistant do the accounting tasks will automatically relieve your stress from doing the task.  Another way the VA can help minimize the stress in your workplace is by giving you some free time.  Instead of you spending long hours in the office to do certain tasks, you can spend your free time out of the office relaxing.  By having the time to relax and rest, you will be able to deal with all the difficult tasks in the workplace.  Your personal stress levels will become lower and you will have the presence of mind to deal with more things in the workplace.  If you keep dealing with issues one after the next, then you could experience fatigue and stress. This will definitely affect your productivity in the long run and can seriously affect your business’ profitability.  There are people who work best in high-stress environments, but there are few people who are like that.  As much as possible you want to maintain a peaceful and stress-free environment at work for your emotional well-being and your workers’.

Published on February 25, 2010
by Lawrence Perry
(NewsPR.us and OfficialWire)
LONDON, ENGLAND

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Virtual Assistants for All Your Business Needs

Categories: About VAs No Comments »

Margate, FL, February 26, 2010 — Have you heard about the new “kid on the block?” The one that is empowering businesses to do better, and revolutionizing the way work is being done today. Well, fasten your seatbelt and meet–The Virtual Assistant – The business support and Internet technology gurus that are quickly becoming the answer to many entrepreneurs and small business owners’ needs.

For years businesses have complained of needing more help in the office to meet the ever-increasing demands of running a business. They needed more time to devote to marketing and product development without the expense of hiring another employee. Now, with the help of a qualified Virtual Assistant, they are able to do this and much more.

So what is a Virtual Assistant?  Virtual Assistants (VAs) are highly skilled professionals who take the time to excel in their given area of expertise. They provide extensive marketing solutions, creative and innovative advertising campaigns, administrative support, proofing and editing capabilities, and other specialized services for entrepreneurs, small businesses, authors, and others who want to bring their business to a new level, or market their books for greater results. VAs work globally, taking full advantage of all the connections of the online networks.

Diana Ennen, co-author of Virtual Assistant-The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA (http://www.va-theseries.com/) states, “The future has arrived, and with it a growing partnership that’s sure to last – The Virtual Assistant and Client Partnership.” Ennen and co-author Kelly Poelker of Another 8 Hours added the Virtual Assistant-The Series: Workbook Edition that accompanies the main manual and are pleased to already be selling these at many colleges throughout the United States and Canada in addition to virtual assistants eager to start a business.

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Quality vs. Outsourcing

Categories: About VAs No Comments »

Being a small business owner means being a little bit of everything for your company. Owner, customer service, sales, IT, etc. You may have found as your business starts to grow that you are in need of a little assistance. A lot of business owners outsource and you wonder if this is the avenue to take. As I’ve talked about in other blogs there are a lot of great ways a virtual assistant can help you but there are also some important things to consider when outsourcing. If you do a search for a virtual assistance on the Internet you may be overwhelmed with the thousands of websites offering similar services for very different prices. When browsing your options it is tempting to go for the cheapest outsourcing firm you can find. It makes sense to want to save money but sometimes cheaper outsourcing can cause expensive mistakes.

Unfortunately cheaper isn’t always the best way to go. There can be a big downside to this and a lot of business owners have been disappointed to learn, you truly do get what you pay for. Extremely cheap outsourcing can often mean that the projects are being sent overseas where language barriers and time zones can interfere or to a company that doesn’t have the time to develop a relationship with there clients. You may end up dealing with so many different contacts that being able to relay the correct information to ensure the job gets done right the first time can be difficult. Outsourcing to overseas can be a problem especially when maintaining networking sites, blog posts and press releases because of relevancy and language barriers. Someone overseas may not be able to write something relevant about your particular market because of the different background and culture and would not produce something relevant to your local marketplace.

Though usually more expensive, a smaller VA firm based closer to home can be a better option for a lot of businesses. Having only one or two contacts can make the experience more personable and you’ll find with only one or two people working on your projects that effectively communicating what you need is easier. Small firms tend to take on less clients and instead work on keeping clients coming back by taking a vested interest in each customers business and having more time to get to know what will help you grow and thrive.
No matter what you pay, having a successful experience is most important. Choosing a Virtual Assistant who makes the effort to give you quality results will make running your business a lot more efficient and give you a lot more time.

Turn Weakness Into Strength

Categories: About VAs No Comments »

Current research in psychology has found that the teaching we are instilled with growing up, to work on our weaknesses is in fact not the most effective way toexcel in life. The school of thought that teaches to work on our weak points have shown in the past only marginal improvements in weaker behaviours. A moreproductive way to become the best you can be in every aspect of life is to focus and hone the skills that come naturally to you. Playing up your strengths and continuously improving upon your natural talents is a sure way to find yourself succeeding professionally and personally. However it is important to note that weaknesses cannot be ignored. This is especially pertinent when it relates to the business you have built on your talents and strengths. Unfortunately after you have discovered and put into play your dream of starting your own business, developing a plan and having a unique vision there will be the inevitable tasks that are vital to succeeding- most likely these things will be the very weaknesses you dread even loath doing(i.e. menial, daunting tasks or the little, but essential details you’d rather push aside).

Because of these weaknesses the power of your vision can feel compromised, and that original enthusiasm that beamed from you may turn into piles of paperwork, ridiculously long days and in need of some serious rest (you’ll know you’ve gotten to that point when you see the dark circles under your eyes from lack of sleep).

Instead of begrudgingly working your way through administrative work and other projects that may not be your forte, it is now time to delegate those tasks to someone who’s business is to accomplish these projects. When you delegate work that is not your niche or you just don’t have time for to someone like a Virtual Assistant, your weakness instantly becomes another strength.

A lot of small business owners may have at one point or another worked behind the scenes at an office and may even be quite proficient in administrative duties but now you have your own business and that means as the owner your job is to focus on the clients and customers rather than, say…the data entry. You can hire a Virtual Assistant and pay by project or by the hour. That helps you in two ways. If you’re just starting out with you’re brand new business, chances are you do not have the overhead to hire someone in-house (which means even more paperwork, training and legal red tape). The other pro of hiring a VA to help your business grow is that any VA worth hiring is going to be dedicated to helping you achieve the success you seek. A VA can truly help you turn that weakness into strength with there dedication and desire to take care of your enterprise as if it was their own. As VA’s we know that your vision deserves to stay undiluted and we can help you take care of so much, giving you the freedom to focus on building your venture to it’s highest possible success.

We are here to help you and we wish you luck in your ventures!

Marketing For Small Businesses

Categories: Small Business No Comments »

Are you losing money because of your marketing? Even very large successful companies can make mistakes-the difference between you and them is you may not have the capital to fix them. Don’t let your next marketing plan cost you.

A great starting point is working with a small business consultant. They are experts at knowing what works and what doesn’t for a small company, they also know what kind of errors a smaller business can handle and what kind can be disastrous.  Putting together a marketing campaign and applying it is important as well. Marketing efforts can be expensive mistakes if there is no developed campaign so having one is key.

Another mistake small businesses can make in marketing is not reaching out to both the on and offline clients and customers. Ignoring one form of marketing cuts out a huge percentage of your demographic and in the very competitive marketplace around us this can be detrimental to the campaign. Another error that can be avoided is not tracking the methods and efforts of the campaign. If you don’t keep track of how effective the campaign is, you won’t know how it is effecting your business and whether or not it’s time to modify the plan. By tracking it you can figure out that may need a small tweek or a complete marketing overhaul. You don’t have to scrap ideas immediately when results aren’t being yielded but don’t let a bad idea bury you. Sometimes it doesn’t mean the idea is bad but the timing might be off or it may not be the right idea for your particular kind of business.

Finally, following up with your clients (new and old) is also very important. Once you’ve made new customers and clients you want to keep them coming back. Make sure you don’t forget about them while not being too pushy. If they aren’t able to help you now they may still in the future so maintaining a good relationship is also a great idea.

Marketing and Promoting

Categories: Small Business No Comments »

So your business is growing and it’s time to promote your website. You’re business is still small but it’s gaining momentum and you’re only one person, getting burnt out is likely. When promoting and marketing your business it can be overwhelming and tiring to do it all yourself. To keep up with social networking sites, your own website and getting your name out there along with doing the regular tasks of your business you may find yourself under a pile of work wondering what happened to the vision and excitement of it all. Have you ever thought about outsourcing?

There are virtual assistants that can help you with all of the daunting tasks that await you in the virtual and marketing world so you can get back to the things that you love doing-the reason you started your business in the first place.

A virtual assistant won’t need to be trained and there won’t be the costly overhead involved along with all of the paperwork that it takes to hire someone in-house. If they don’t know how to deal with a task they’ll find out and get it done right-and on time! If there is a technical issue that could potentially paralyze your business your VA will be ready to go- getting the information to fix the glitch.

Imagine being able to delegate all of the tasks that are turning your workdays into endless hours and sleepless nights, to someone with the tools and knowledge to help you drive traffic on your website, take care of the the little things (updating posts and blogs, maintaining social networking pages, administrative duties and more) and give you a well-deserved breather. You could even take a day or two off (how long has it been?) knowing that all is well with your business.

As a small business owner your time is precious and as you grow your VA will help you thrive. Give yourself a break!

Growing Your Small Business

Categories: Small Business No Comments »

Growing a small business even in a recession is not impossible. Some of the most successful businesses still around today were started during recessions, so do not lose hope. The three important ways to grow a business are simple but very important. Getting new customers, keeping customers and getting customers to purchase more (and more frequently).

The size of your business will determine the amount of customers you have and the amount of customers you have will determine the supply and demand factor. You don’t want to outdue the amount of customers you have by product and vice versa.

If your business is already making money but it’s reached a plateau then setting aside a portion of your profit to finding new ways to aquire customers makes the most sense in finding ways to thrive.

Another great way is to involve your employees. Find out what they see as they work for you. What would streamline the processes of your business while getting new customers? A lot of times employees can be a great source of knowledge since they are usually dealing one on one with your customers. They often know what might make things go smoother or keep a customer longer.

So with some perserverance and vigilance you can thrive even in tougher financial times!

Virtual Assistants for Coaches and Speakers

Categories: Coaches, Niche No Comments »

“A Personal or Business Coach is an entrepreneur who provides support and encouragement to clients to help them grow personally and/or professionally. Having a coach is like re-living your childhood experience of having a soccor or little league coach, only this time they’re nice! They inspire and encourage clients to achieve their optimum through guidance, education and sometimes a bit of gentle pushing. Just like when you were a kid on the baseball field, a good coach will make you run more laps than you feel like and tell it like it is.”

Virtual Assistants for Speakers

“A Professional Speaker is an entrepreneur who is often a learned expert in a particular field and thus they speak for a living, by offering keynote speeches, workshops, seminars and conference talks. In order to succeed, they must remain top of mind to various industries by maintaining contact lists, email newsletters, podcasts and blogging.”

Typical Services Virtual Assistants provide to Coaches & Speakers

  • One Sheets, Bios, Services/Products Overviews
  • Speaker Presentation Packets and Press Kits
  • Class, Workshop, Seminar, Webinar & Teleclass Development & Marketing
  • Shopping Cart Maintenance
  • Autoresponder Marketing
  • Affiliate Program Maintenance
  • Lead Management
  • Order Fulfillment (inventory and ship products)
  • Prepare Speech Handouts
  • Email and Print Campaigns
  • Membership Site Maintenance and Administration
  • Social Media Assessment, Set-up and Maintenance
  • Document Conversion to PDF
  • Design and Format Print and Digital Home Study Courses and Workbooks
  • Special Reports and Tips Sheets
  • Article, Press Release, Blog and Website Submission
  • Podcasting & Audio Editing
  • Blog Posting & Maintenance
  • Ezine Maintenance and Distribution
  • Proofreading & Editing (books, manuscripts, ezines, articles, etc.)
  • Customer Service/Client Support
  • Reserve & Rent Bridge Lines and Conference Rooms
  • Telephone Follow-up
  • Email & Voice Mail Maintenance
  • Transcription of Keynotes, Seminars, Webinars and Teleclasses

Virtualallin.com

Niche VAs: The Real Estate Virtual Assistant

Categories: Featured, Real Estate No Comments »

realestateReal Estate professionals were the early adopters of virtual assistants. Knowing the value of time and money, the VA was arealestatecommon sense move. Real Estate agents are often solo-prenuers and thus have a huge array of projects and demands that often leave them scattered and frustrated with organization. Skilled Virtual Assistants can take over much of the busy agents’ projects and get them back out selling homes.

Administrative:

  • Schedule appointments and showings
  • Manage emails and calendar
  • Answer the phone, take messages
  • Maintain mailing lists
  • Address and mail open house invites
  • Mail out seasonal promotional materials
  • Mail out birthday and holiday cards
  • Create forms and templates
  • Manage Newsletters & Ezines
  • Manage & Monitor subscriptions
  • Bookkeeping
  • Add contacts to after closing campaigns
  • Add contacts to Lowe’s Realtor Benefits
  • Order closing gifts
  • Monitor local and national Realtor events
  • Setup agent accounts for printing, marketing, etc.
  • Order office supplies
  • Track all sales

Business Marketing:

  • Develop business plan
  • Develop marketing plan
  • Develop recruitment packages
  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Schedule training
  • Develop action plans
  • Develop relocation packages

Branding Services:

  • Create Logos, stationery, biz cards
  • Create marketing pieces
  • Create Buyer Agent brochure
  • Create Seller Agent brochureLead Management:
  • Process incoming and outgoing referrals
  • Add new leads to database
  • Create drip campaigns
  • Create home marketing plans
  • Create agent proposals
  • Maintain contact database
  • Pull expired listings
  • Mail marketing to FSBO’s
  • Mail out CMA’s and brochures to leads
  • Create & Maintain Action plans

Listing Coordination:

  • Create listing kit
  • Create pre-listing and listing presentations
  • Create CMA
  • Complete contract forms
  • Order public documentsOrder property photos
  • Re-check contract is fully executed
  • Input listing to MLS
  • Optimize property photos
  • Input photos into MLS
  • Order sign
  • Order home staging
  • Create virtual tour
  • Create CD/DVD of virtual tour
  • Create custom listing website
  • Post listing to Craigslist, Realtor.com, Google Base, etc.
  • Verify schools and request HOA docs (when applicable)
  • Review seller disclosure
  • Forward paperwork to MLS
  • Mail out seller guide
  • Create and send Just Listed cards
  • Order vendor services
  • Coordinate listing termite letter
  • Coordinate home pre-inspection
  • Create and send weekly feedback reports to seller
  • Create Flash presentations
  • Enhancements to Realtor.com
  • Forward instructions to seller regarding open house policies
  • Create neighborhood books
  • Create property flyer/brochure
  • Draft advertising copy
  • Record toll-free info message
  • Email to circle of influence

Transaction Coordination:

  • Add client to closing drip system
  • Open Escrow
  • Track contingencies
  • Send out all transaction reminders
  • Deliver forms for signatures
  • Order home warranty
  • Order movers and packers
  • Schedule and follow up on required inspections
  • Weekly calls to Escrow/Title, Lender
  • Schedule final walk thru
  • Schedule closing
  • Send out directions to closing
  • Order Prelim. HUD-1 & Final HUD-1
  • Create “Just Sold” card
  • Order closing gift

Websites and SEO:

  • Website creation and maintenance
  • SEO Copywriting
  • Optimization of content and meta tags
  • Optimize images
  • Creation and ongoing maintenance on Link building
  • Website hosting & server maintenance
  • Custom CMS websites (Content Management System)
  • HTML/CSS Valid template design
  • Custom email stationery (to match branding)