Skills to Look For

Is real estate experience essential for your new personal assistant? Not always. It’s more important that you find someone with the skills they will need to work with people and complete the tasks that you want them to handle.

For example, you can hire someone with clerical experience and structure the position as strictly secretarial — filing, handling phones, inputting contact information into your database, updating your Web site.

In fact, some salespeople like the idea of being able to train an assistant in real estate. An assistant who’s been a salesperson or worked for another salesperson may have picked up bad habits that are hard to break.

On the other hand, assistants with real estate experience will understand industry terminology and perhaps even be familiar with laws and regulations governing real estate. And if they're licensed, experienced assistants can do more prospecting and buyer agency tasks for you.

“A secretary saves you time, but an assistant generates income,” says Ed Hatch, CRS®, of Ed Hatch Seminars in Greenbelt, Md., who conducts seminars on personal assistants.

Here are some general skills to look for in an assistant:

  • Good communication and people skills
  • Marketing, sales, or public relations experience
  • Polished telephone skills, particularly courtesy and warmth
  • Ability to multitask and judge which tasks take priority
  • Ability to search the MLS and understand what to weed out in a search
  • Ability to troubleshoot problems
  • Knack for presentation development

Besides assisting you with routine clerical tasks, assistants should be skilled in at least one area in which you’re not an expert. For instance, if you’re unfamiliar with desktop publishing programs but you want to develop your own flyers, hire someone who can easily create print materials. And encourage the person to teach you.

Of course, you’ll need to keep in the mind the skill level of the candidates you interview. A student may be less likely to execute advanced marketing responsibilities than a former salesperson.

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