Skilled and experienced real estate assistants are hard to find these days. Good news, if you’re an assistant and are thinking about getting licensed, as that skill is in high demand. But if you’re a real estate agent considering hiring an assistant, it’s worth taking a step back and considering how important it is that your assistant has their license before they’re hired. This article will review the pros and cons of hiring a licensed real estate assistant, and I’ll discuss what an unlicensed assistant can and can’t do to help you grow your business.
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What can an unlicensed assistant do?
The rules around what an unlicensed assistant can and can’t do vary by state. Let’s first discuss generalities about what an unlicensed assistant can do in your business. First and foremost, your assistant can be your Executive Personal Assistant. This means they can do the following:
- Email, phone, and calendar management
- Meeting preparation
- Act as a gatekeeper, ensuring the agent stays focused on the best use of their time
- Develop systems checklists and processes that streamline operations
- Provide a consistent five-star experience for clients
- Manage the CRM (customer relationship management) system, update the database, and schedule drip campaigns
- Schedule showings and vendor management
- Collect earnest money and draft offers under the agent’s supervision
- Handle tasks concerning listing coordination, manage transactions from contract to close, or oversee a transaction coordinator
- Coordinate client gifts, client parties, and appreciation events
- Manage other employees
And now, in some states, an unlicensed assistant can open property doors and provide the MLS sheet. They just can’t talk about the features and benefits of the property. So again, check with your local regulations. And if you ever have a question, talk to your broker so that you’re clear on what the rules are in your state.
What can a licensed assistant do?
A licensed assistant can usually command a higher salary than an unlicensed assistant because they can do a few more essential things. It’s worth keeping in mind that a licensed assistant may have a different motivation for coming to work for you. They may want to work with clients on the side, they may want referral fees for deals that they bring to the team, and they may want to work for you because they want to learn the ropes so that they can go out on their own. So it’s worth considering what kind of goals are going to be in alignment for you and which aren’t, and make sure you talk about that upfront.
Along with the tasks listed above under the unlicensed assistant, a licensed assistant can also do the following:
- Discuss the merits of a property with clients or leads
- Review and explain the contract to clients
- Show properties
- Negotiate rates if the agent is on vacation or otherwise occupied
Also, they can prospect on their agent’s behalf, though I strongly recommend against this. Anybody who is going to be a great assistant is likely not going to be a good prospector. And you’re the one who needs to be building those relationships with your leads.
What should you do?
Those are some really great benefits of having a licensed assistant. But the reality is a lot of agents would be uncomfortable having their new assistant handle a lot of those tasks until they really formed some trust and a working relationship together. And so if you’re not going to have your assistant negotiate for you or show properties for you, it might be worth considering hiring someone who isn’t licensed and then getting them trained up and licensed once they’re on board with you. You can maybe save a little bit of money on their salary in the beginning. And you’ll have a much broader candidate pool to hire from, which especially right now is really key.
I’ll give you an example. A licensed experienced real estate assistant in Los Angeles can easily command a base salary before bonuses of $100,000 a year. An unlicensed assistant could earn anywhere from $70,000 to $85,000, depending on their background. Again, that would be for a strong, smart, polished, capable administrator coming from a transferable industry like hospitality, insurance, or finance.
It could take you six months to find a licensed assistant that you’re willing to pay $120,000 a year versus two months to find an unlicensed assistant who you could then get trained up. Now, one thing to keep in mind if you do want your assistant to get licensed once they’re hired, depending on where you live, that could take anywhere from a month to nine months. Also, you would be responsible for all of the costs and fees associated with getting licensed, as well as paying them for their time to study. Anytime you require an employee to obtain a skill, license, or certification for your use in your company, you are obligated to pay for that. So keep that in mind.
So the question is, do you plan to hire a licensed or unlicensed assistant?