Is Your Time Worth More Than $15 An Hour?

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When choosing the area you’re going to invest in a lot of people don’t create a large enough radius around where they live. For example, one of the best ways to be successful in this business is to mail a lot of letters and postcards to highly targeted lists. And sometimes when an investor tries to order a list around their home town they might only come up with 300 names. When that happens, you need to enlarge your radius because mailing 300 names will never make you wealthy.

What is the ideal radius? Obviously, it depends on where you live. If you live in the city you might not have to go far, but if you live in the country you might have to drive for miles. Personally, the radius I use is 60 miles around my house. Why such a big radius? Because some of the best deals–the bread and butter houses–are that far away from me. And when it comes to making $5,000 to $30,000 per deal, 60 miles is nothing.

However, because my time is so valuable these days, I only make the 60 mile drive to sign a contract or close the deal. Other than that I hire someone to check out houses, take pictures and do various other jobs for me. And that is what I want to emphasize to you today. If I were to drive one hour to see a house, then another hour back that would be two wasted hours of my day.

How I Almost Never See a Property

Instead of wasting my time to drive to houses I hired someone off of craigslist to go to houses for me. A while back I placed a simple ad that said “real estate investor looking for reliable person to take pictures of properties and a few other simple things”. The ad was more detailed than that, but you get the point, and I ended up hiring a stay at home mom.

On one of my recent properties I just picked up, she took pictures of the property and emailed them to me so I could see the condition of the house. She put a lock box on the property and changed the code for me a few times. I even had her take out the trash. To take pictures of a property I pay her $30 per property and for other jobs the payment depends on how much she is doing for me. So, I would much rather pay her $30, then spend two hours in the car because my time is worth a heck of a lot more than $15 an hour.

The Two Most Important Women In My Business Life

As you become more successful as a real estate investor you will want to always figure out ways to save time. I have a personal assistant named Lisa, who is a virtual assistant (she lives in Wisconsin). She answers my seller phone calls and takes care of all my administrative “junk”. If I were you, that would be the first part I would outsource because it’s a pain. Then I have my craigslist woman who is local and takes care of all of the physical property “stuff” that Lisa can’t obviously do.

By the way, when the time comes to get an assistant or a person to take pictures for you, I would make sure and do your due diligence. At the minimum make sure you have a copy of their driver’s license and you have a simple one page agreement for the work to be done. Never operate without a written agreement and never simply trust someone.

Photo Credit: / CC BY 2.0

About Author

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month and the author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire”. Jason specializes in purchasing properties “subject-to” and has purchased millions of dollars worth of property using none of his own cash or credit.


  1. The assistant that’s going out and taking pictures of properties and taking out the trash… I can grasp that one but explain to me this concept of virtual assistant for admin work. I hear of several people doing this but I just can’t comprehend what it is that you have them doing and how.

    • Dick –
      I’ve tried using virtual assistants myself on several occasions, and each time I spent just as much time doing work teaching/training them as I would have spent doing the job myself. Lots of people swear by them, but I’m not convinced either.

  2. Jason,

    First off, great article. I was attracted to the article after doing a search for “virtual assistants” to view the latest news in our industry. I’m glad I landed on your blog and I’m hoping my posting can help others with questions about virtual assistants.

    I own a virtual assistant firm called Virtual Appoint and I think you described very succinctly why our clients hire us – to handle tasks they either do not want to do and/or do not have the time to do.

    Joshua, your comments are well taken and just like in any business, there are good providers and less able providers. We strive to exceed our client’s expectations and because we sell time and don’t operate under contracts, we prove ourselves to our clients every month.

    At the risk of coming off as “salesy”, I’d like to encourage you to email me at [email protected] and I will answer your email personally and immediately, unless I’m sleeping (which doesn’t happen often). I’m confident we can help you.

    Have a good one,


  3. My experience has been that an assistant, virtual or not, may take a lot of time to train and to work with, depending on what you what your assistant to do and their experience. (Experience is both in your business as well as life experience.)

    For a virtual assistant explanation, try Tim Ferris’ “4 Hour Work Week.”

    For a personal assistant, I have found that my best assistants have been women from 35-55 years old that are detail oriented. I find that there are back-burner, repetitive task projects that can be done immediately. It takes about 2 weeks to be productive (they save you more time than you spend) and 1-2 months to be fully trained.

    David Safeer
    .-= David Safeer´s last blog ..Isn’t it All Creative Real Estate? =-.

  4. David – In Tim Ferris “4 Hour Work Week” are not the type of Virtual Assistants that form an alliance with your business and help your business to grow and prosper. These set ups that Tim talks about are for the most part “Call Centres” ie large firms of Virtual Assistants. Most Virtual Assistants (freelance Secretaries/PAs) work from a home base, mostly sole traders or a small network of home-based Virtual Assistants. These home-based Virtual Assistants have a vested interest in your business to do well. Your business does well, their business does well and they hopefully will get referrals from you.

    The way to start working with a Virtual Assistant is find one that will be suitable for your business ie if you are into Real Estate you may want a specialist Real Estate Virtual Assistant. If you are a Speaker, Coach or Consultant find a Virtual Assistant that would specialise in those areas. Then once you have found someone who may be suitable start off with small projects so you can both get used to what is expected of each other. A Virtual Assistant expects to be supporting you for the longer term. The amount of work you provide your Virtual Assistant doesn’t matter – it may start off with one or two hours per week and build up or just stay at a few hours per week. Also if you were to engage a new employee in an office situation then you would expect a period of transition and a learning curve before this new person became proficient in their new role. The same goes for a Virtual Assistant – depending on the task, you should allow for a small learning curve although with a Virtual Assistant because of their experience levels the learning curve would be shorter.

    Then communication is the big key – be very clear and precise about what you are achieving/or what the final outcome is to be and fill your Virtual Assistant in on the details to help them understand what is required of them so they can help you better.

    I hope that explains how a Virtual Assistant works and what benefits they can provide for you.

  5. I agree with Monika that you should allow for a bit of learning curve and training time with your assistant, personal or virtual, before that person can be effective and proficient in your business. The value of your assistant is seen over time … the more work she does for you, the more effective and efficient she becomes and the more time you have on your hands. It’s pretty much the same as having an employee save for taxes, leaves and other employee benefits and expenses. You can also control how much time you’ll have them work for you.

    Tim Ferriss is big on outsourcing so you can get a lot of tips from him if you’re open to hiring overseas.

    What’s good about virtual assistant companies is that you get a whole range of skills. You can actually get a full virtual team to help run your business!

  6. The flip side of effectively utilizing a virtual assistant isn’t just teaching them what you want to do, but learning how to efficiently communicate what you want. Sure, a good full-time, in-person employee will eventually learn your specific mannerisms, desires, and manner of speaking – but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on being clearer.

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