The outsourcing bug bit me hard in 2015 as my real estate business had grown enough to support other people taking tasks off my plate.
I hired a Filipino virtual assistant to handle various data entry tasks, mainly related to accumulating and filtering seller leads. It was great knowing that work was being done at an inexpensive hourly rate while I slept, but likewise, it’s difficult to manage someone when working hours rarely overlap.
I’ve now automated much of the tasks that that particular VA was working on. I’m going to present some common tasks for real estate businesses and look at the differences between outsourcing and automating.
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Building and Preparing a List of Sellers
There’s several list providers out there (ListSource is one of the big players) that will sell you a list, such as one for absentee owners, for a given area. I’ve bought quite a few lists over the years. They’re pricey and still require a good bit of work in filtering them down to your preferences, specifically property type.
The county assessor’s office may provide you a list if you ask and is typically free or low in cost. The list probably needs to be filtered.
It’s great if you’re satisfied with your purchase list, but I imagine that you’ll want to build a list from scratch eventually that is highly targeted for motivated sellers. A list I like is for landlords who have evicted a tenant in the past three months from a mobile home with land property or a small mobile home park.
I can’t imagine buying a list like this, but I know how to build it. I can have a VA take all of the online eviction notices within a given county, filter by magistrate and by completed evictions, and type all the relevant information such as the landlord’s name, mailing address, and property address into a shared spreadsheet.
He would then need to filter the properties by property type and remove any that don’t match our property type. We would also need to filter out duplicates and sellers who are already in our sales funnel.
We prefer to cold call, as our primary strategy in reaching sellers so the VA will need to go to Inquiso to find potential phone numbers for the seller and add them to our spreadsheet.
At this point, our list is ready to begin calling.
Our developer is going to build a series of scripts that will build and prepare our eviction list. It could also be set to run as often as we’d like to constantly give us updated eviction listings.
You’re going to pay a developer much more per hour for the initial set up than for a data-entry VA, but if you’re working with hundreds or thousands of properties, the break even point is incredibly quick.
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Bounced Rent Payments
Handling bounced payments is an unfortunate part of managing rental properties. In the past, a VA on my team would manually charge the tenant a $25 returned check fee and text and email that tenant to remedy the situation.
This worked fine but was still time consuming for that person. Plus we saw a few tenants over the years bounce payments strategically near their eviction date in an effort to buy them an extra day or two.
We have a script that checks daily for any bounced payments, charges that tenant a $25 returned check fee, sends a text and email asking them to contact us about the returned payment, and locks them out of their online payment portal until they contact us to discuss their situation.
Tenants are also prevented from paying online automatically when they are seven days from their eviction court date. The tenant is able to pay rent by cash at several retail locations.
Each automation project is fine in and of itself, but the cumulative effect of having several “robot workers” working for you 24/7 on various parts of your real estate business is awesome. They free up both your time and your team’s time to truly move your business forward instead of just treading water.
What have you automated within your business that makes your life easier?