Dear Zuess,assistant

I’ve been in real estate for four years now and I have built a great business.  I’m doing about 25-30 ends a year.  I’m feeling stressed and tired from all the running around.  I want to hire an assistant and don’t know if they should be licensed or not.  What do you think?



Dear Lou,

Congratulations! It sounds like you’ve built a nice consistent business over the past four years.  You don’t mention the dollar volume so it’s hard for me to know if you are ready for an assistant or not but I’ll give you my take on the whole assistant thing.

We would all love to have someone who could do some of our work for us.  It would free up time so that we could do more prospecting, work with more clients and spend more time with our friends and family.  It’s a fantastic vision but making it a reality is more challenging than most real estate agents imagine.

The pitfalls are numerous:

Still interested?  Let’s look at the positives:


Lou, you specifically wanted to know whether your assistant should be licensed or not.  Let’s look at the options.  You could hire:

  1. An assistant who holds a real estate license and can therefore do many of the sales activities to help run your business.   While this option is very convenient for showings, open houses, and sales calls, you must consider that if they are any good at sales, they won’t want to be your assistant for long.  Or, you may end up paying a poor salesperson to not sell homes.  If you get someone who is good at sales, they’ll either leave or they’ll want a bigger piece of the pie.  This begins to look more like building a team.  (Watch for a future blog post on building a team.)
  2. An assistant who is good at administration and other non-sales activities.  There are people who excel at administrative activities and are passionate about the things that we don’t like to do.  Good ones are hard to find.
  3. A virtual assistant is a person or service that you call on demand.  They are surprisingly excellent at what they do and can be an affordable way to fill the labour gap during the busy season or for a labour-intense administrative or marketing project.  It is contrary to our vision of an assistant and can feel a little counter intuitive in the beginning.

In conclusion:

I don’t recommend a full time administrative assistant unless you are grossing at least $200,000 per year ($300,000 is better) consistently.  My experience is that the stress of trying to make pay role can reduce your productivity.

If you choose a licensed assistant, understand that your model will likely end up looking more like a team.  There are exceptions, but not many.

A great assistant can give you the freedom to create a fantastic real estate business, but it’s harder than it looks.  You need to like managing people and most solo-preneurs don’t.

Using a virtual assistant is a great first step.



Columnist, The Nature of Real Estate


Dear Zuess is a column dedicated to offering tips for real estate agents that ask themselves, “Do I need a real estate assistant?” and, of course, other great questions too. Do you have any real estate binds you’ve been in lately? Drop Zuess a line at