And Why I Won’t be Using One
I just read an article on Inman.com by Teke Wiggin posted 9/28/15. In this article, the author discusses how some real estate agents have utilized virtual agents from the Phiippines and other countries, to leverage and grow their business.
These assistants work on “anything that does not require a conversation with the client or with the cooperating agent.” This could include tasks such as filtering emails, confirming appointments and completing paperwork. Where this gets a little dicey is when agents employ these virtual assistants to qualify online leads and prospective clients. Some virtual assistants also take on tasks such as cold calling on expired listings or for-sale-by owners.
All REALTORS are independent contractors and can run their business according to any model they choose. Some agents choose the “quantity over quality” approach by casting a huge net for prospective clients, then using a virtual assistant to edit the hundreds of leads into 3 legitimate potential clients, who are ready, willing and able to transact.
How Virtual Assistants are Effecting the Real Estate Industry
What concerns me about this approach is the commoditization of the real estate profession. We are already seeing this approach with Zillow, realtor.com and other online sites. When the user contacts the agent on the website, they expect to speak with the listing agent or a qualified assistant who understands the local market and who can provide quality information. They do not expect to receive a response from a person in a foreign country, who, no matter how well trained, cannot possibly provide valuable information or insights.
Yes, I receive a lot of bogus contacts from the internet. Someone called me at 10:30 the other night asking for information about one of my listings. I returned the call the next morning, sent an email and did not receive a response. While it can be annoying to sift through these leads, I feel that I am doing my job on behalf of the owner who hired me to respond to such calls directly.
I still remember years ago, when I called customer service for my PC. I spoke to a person in a foreign country who could not deviate from a script to help me. I never purchased a computer from that company again, and today that company has almost disappeared. Let’s not go down that road as REALTORS. Let’s provide the excellent service that our clients expect and deserve and leave the foreign virtual assistants to the big box industry.
By the way, I am not aware of any Park City agents who are using international virtual agents as part of their business model.