Virtual Appraisal Assistant Synergy

I sometimes am criticized for hiring assistants outside of the United States. More specifically, I am criticized for paying my virtual assistants outside the United States 3-6 dollars an hour. I think there is an idea that I am exploiting them and treating them unfairly; when in reality, we are in a mutually beneficial business agreement together.

Over the years, I have tried hiring virtual assistants from many different countries, but I have found the most luck hiring individuals in the Philippines. While I have had some bad experiences, overall I have been very impressed by their honesty, skill, and work ethic. Now, I know some appraisers who have outsourced all of their office work to countries outside the United States, but I personally only have three of my ten employees located out of the country at the moment. 

For the purposes of this post, I will be using the Philippines as an example because that is where I have the most experience, but a lot of the same principles apply to other third world countries. While 3-6 dollars an hour is far below the minimum wage in the United States, it is 3-4 times above the minimum wage in the Philippines. Cost of living is much more expensive in the United States. Living on 3-6 dollars an hour in the Philippines is comparable to living on 15-20 dollars an hour in the United States. 

One of my employees in the Philippines has been with me for over three years and she comfortably supports herself and her entire family on her income. Working for a US employer is considered a prestigious career. I benefit from the amazing work she does for me, and she benefits by having a job that pays much better than many of the local options. 

Having virtual assistants in the Philippines has been a great blessing to my life and my business. There are certainly times where it can create difficulties, but overall, it has been a valuable experience. On the other hand, I also believe it has a great blessing for those I employ and their families as they have had the opportunity to increase their income. 

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 

41 Comments on “Virtual Appraisal Assistant Synergy”

  1. Come on Dustin, at the high range ($6) that’s only $1.15 off what your states minimum wage is. Dance around the topic all you want, but get off your high horse as your putting dollars in your picket first before supporting your local economy. Not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but for a $1.15, I’d say that’s borderline un-American.

    USA, USA, USA.

    Go make up a value, and seek the truth.

  2. I’d love to learn how this is done and assume that I will. Seems like a win/win. By the way, is a “Bill” the male equivalent of a “Karen”?

    1. No Andy, Karen’s often speak of untruths and filter the world through their own narrow minded interruption and agenda. Where as the Bill Johnson’s of the world seek and spread the truth and call bull crap when they see it. Save a dollar if you want, but don’t tell me your doing it because you’ve weighed the moral consequences and as long as the children are okay, then your decision is sound.

      Saying your doing something just for the money is a big turn off when your trying to sell appraisers VHS tapes and award them with a seat at the round table of all stars. Or like when Dustin has to say AMC’s are good because he profits from them and most likely needs the corporate sponsorship for a podcast, even though they have and will continue to poison the profession.

      Seek the truth Andy.

    2. I sincerely wish to apologize for my above immature and wildly inappropriate comment. I wished to delete as soon as I hastily hit enter. Specifically I apologize to Bill and anyone named Karen (both names which in reality like and respect) for the offensive comment. I’m also sorry Dustin and all of you professionals which use this site for my part in debasing this comment section. I’ll do better in the future.

      1. There is no cancel culture in my house Andy E so I deny your request to delete your comments as I found them not be offensive. Can’t speak for the other Kool-aid drinkers here though as many live in alternate realities where AMC’s are the answer, and its anti Bill Johnson to the grave.

        Seek the truth.

  3. Great article Dustin. Keep on helping others to grow and succeed.

    Andy.. actually Karen is a real name and describes real people, Bill Johnson is a fake cowardly name used to describe someone that needs to hide his real name.

    1. Tell me Skap, how is pointing out facts fake & cowardly? If the state of Idaho has a minimum wage of $7.15 per hour, but Dustin prefers to save $1.15 (at $6), believe all you want that he wants to save third world children, but I believe that speaks volumes to his character. Kind of like its okay to work with AMC’s as no harm is coming to the industry.

      Time to change to password.

      Seek the truth.

      1. Tell me, “Bill Johnson”, just how many quality people you are going to attract at Idaho’s minimum wage? Possibly high school kids looking for a summer job? How about you? Maybe you could assist Dustin in “seeking the truth”.

  4. First, Thank you for the work you put in to provide a source of information and entertainment. It takes a lot of time and effort to put together the material you release. Second, when you said employees, does that mean you are using a payroll company (like Shield GEO), that takes care of the tax withholding for the earner or do you just cut a check? I am just looking to make sure I understand the term “employee” as used in your description. If they are truly such, and you are saving so much money, do you find that some of that savings can be used to provide for better employee (private) healthcare (fragmented healthcare in that country) or retirement for the “employee”.
    You give a lot to people and are generous with your time. I am just curious about the motivation. Thanks Dustin.

  5. I am continually amazed at how quickly any discussion degenerates into name calling and assertions of un-American behavior.

  6. I use VAs.
    VAs keep my expenses down.
    Allowing me to grow my business.
    Allowing me to hire more local appraisers.
    Allowing me to compensate my local appraisers very well.
    Allowing me to make more money.
    Allowing me to pump more money into the local economy.
    Allowing my appraisers to pump more money into the local economy.
    Allowing me to do more volume.
    Allowing my clients to make more money.
    Allowing my vendors to make more money.
    The list goes on and on.

    Bill, its probably safe to say you’re surrounded by things which improve the quality of your life and business and allow it to grow which are NOT made or supported in the USA. Your phone ? Camera? Laser ? Computer ? Software ? Car ? Clothing ? Furniture ? Should I keep going ? Or do you only draw the line at foreign labor.

    Have you ever purchased something for your business which was made overseas because it was the cheaper option and fit your budget best ? Think hard Bill.

    So you tell me Bill, whats better ? A local business which is flourishing and pumping money into the local economy, or a stagnant business struggling to make payroll every month.

    Speak the Truth

    1. Yes Terry, and I do it all so that others less fortunate than me from around the world can have a better life. If you want to save a dollar, save a dollar, but don’t for one second try and sell me snake oil about doing it for the children in the Philippines. In my opinion, if one has to go out of their way to explain such reasoning, its a sign of uncomfortable guilt. Kind of like Dustin’s support and defense of the AMC system. How’s that working out for the industry?

      Seeking and speaking the truth.

      1. Bill, you’re all over the place. First its about being un-American, next its about feeling guilty (who on earth would feel guilty about providing someone with a better life), then its about AMCs.
        Giving someone a better life in the Philippines is byproduct of a VA. Its not the main reason to go the VA route, but it is something to point out to someone who criticizes the concept.

        Oh, and if you spent more time doing some AMC work instead of trolling these forums, maybe you’d be less bitter about your place in the industry.

        1. My point exactly Terry. If your long term business model is to work with the devil (AMC’s) as it appears Dustin’s is while knowing they are the biggest cancer in the industry, but yet not understanding or caring such support is killing a profession, then what’s outsourcing a little labor to save a dollar? Again, if you want to save a dollar, then save a dollar, but I don’t believe for one second that Dustin is asking for profit and loss statements from individuals around the world so he can make moral business choices and share them here in a blog.

          How about take a stand against the cancer (AMC’s) like I did years ago so a rising tide can raise all boats instead of trying to get back a few dollars back at a time by outsourcing the process, etc.? Dustin is like a politician from a big city blue state where its easier to contentiously create the problems and profit from, then it is address the system and fight it and fix it.

          Seek the truth.

  7. I do not believe in coincidence. Immediately after i posted i was inundated with spam from sites i have never seen before and cannot post to this site from that computer. This post is from my cell. Warning to others. I will never access this site again.

    1. Not to worry Ron, what your seeing are words in the Philippine dialect of Tagalog, let me interoperate it for you. For only $3 to $6 per hour (US American), you to can be an all star as we will be your virtual assistant. Rest assured, at that fee we will be taken care of and can provide a profit and loss statement per your request.

      Seek the truth.

  8. Keep fighting the good fight Bill Johnson. By the time you’re ready to retire, maybe the industry will look the way you want it to.

    1. Remember Terry, “you can learn more from someone who doesn’t agree with you, compared to someone who does” Bill Johnson. Keep up the fight, and never let an opportunity go by without seeking and expressing the truth.

      Seek the truth.

  9. I have two VAs from the Philippines working in my business. They have made me able to hire more appraisers here locally. We now have a staff of eleven and everyone in the US benefits from our VA helpers.

  10. I think the joke’s on us. Bill Johnson has VAs posting in these forums for him. Surely no one individual has the time to troll Dustin and other forums as much as Bill Johnson does. Well played Bill Johnson ! (insert applause gif).

    1. Sorry to say Terry, but this is no joke. I mean what could possibly go wrong with shipping jobs overseas? Insert the middle-class manufacturing jobs here, oh there are none to few. Hint, were not talking about entry level jobs, but rather the destruction of appraiser license numbers (CA went from 20,000 to 9,500 ?).

      Fool yourselves if you want to, but you most likely know a guy who knows a guy who’s asking for a friend about sending the entire appraisal process overseas (India, Philippines, etc.) for wink, wink, “Assistance”. What harm could come from providing your MLS and DataMaster passwords along with your mentors dusty adjustment sheet.

      Seek the truth and pretend your the solution while ignoring the problem.

      1. Bill Johnson, do you think your negative attitude is doing anything to promote our industry or lure anyone into it ? It’s nothing but doom and gloom as you’re concerned. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. Around 10% of CA appraisers are under 40 with nearly half over 60. It’s the veterans who should be taking appraisers under their wings, but instead they are walking around with their heads down in defeat.

        You and your fellow old timer appraisers are putting down the I-5 in your steam engine cars along side Jay Leno while the rest of us are zooming by in our electric cars off to our next few inspections.

        Hope you’ve got enough coal to keep you going. If not, I’m sure you have your trusty 150′ tape in the passenger seat for someone to pull you down the road.

        1. Good try Terry. While you were waiting for your participation trophy we were using personal digital assistant (PDA’s) in the 90’s to take digital photos and input appraisal data electronically. Technology was not invented (mobile phones) in 2007 (iPhone release), nor was it perfected in the decade to follow. Don’t even get me started on the in-house software we created to pull data from public records files some 10 to 15 years before DataMaster was even a baby.

          Coming from the trainee sweatshops of the mid 2000’s and becoming an AMC appraiser, I don’t blame you Terry for your lack of understanding, but be careful as pretty soon you will not be able to collect your fee at the door but rather others will collect it for you. Oh wait, that’s already happened with the AMC’s your work for (50% split).

          That uncomfortable feeling you have Terry could be your lunch, but most likely its range anxiety (Range anxiety is the fear that a vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination and would thus strand the vehicle’s occupants). Ignore the truth if you want Terry and keep drinking the coach’s Kool-aid, but in its current form, the appraisal system has insufficient range to reach its destination and you will become stranded.

          Keep chasing those AMC fee & turn times Terry, but always seek the truth.

          1. If you live in CA and are driving to an appraisal beyond the range of an ev, you’re a fool and clearly haven’t become an expert in your local market. You might as well be doing lower fee AMC work given how much you’re spending on gas driving all around California chasing those higher appraisal fees.

            Boast all you want about in-house software you created which you clearly didn’t capitalize on. Keep spinnin your wheels using that amazing excel spreadsheet while more intelligent and forward thinking appraisers bring it to market and do something to actually improve our industry.

            There is plenty of work to go around and there will be for generations to come. Yes, I do AMC work, but its only a portion of my overall portfolio. You’re so hung up on AMC’s, you are obviously a pigeon-holed bank appraiser. Consider poking your beak out of that hole you’ve been in for decades. You might actually wet it with something besides a 1004.

        2. Good luck to you in the future Terry and when your ready to seek the truth and free yourself from the AMC burden your under, we will welcome you with open arms.

          Remember Terry, be sure those CA appraisal quotes you give out have a low 3 number in front, and say a 1 or 2 at the end. Meaning, your fighting a bunch of skippy form fillers that have already quoted $319, $318, $317, $316, $315, $314, $313, with a 48 hour turn time.

          Ignore reality if you want to, but doing so does not make your version the truth (Bill Johnson 07/31/2020).

          Get off my lawn and seek the truth.

          1. You have lawns in California ? I thought you all converted to turf in an effort to stop watering and save the planet.

            AMC work is gravy for me Bill Johnson. Consider diversifying, and it could be for you too. But sounds like you have chosen to die by the pencil and clipboard along with the rest of your appraisersaurus buddies.

            You should try drinking the kool-aid sometime. It tastes great up here.

        3. Would love to continue this conversation Terry P but this old dog is going to the beach. Let’s hope that AMC assignment you have to turn in today didn’t come with revised appraisal engagement guidelines as searching for that one change over their last 20 page document can be time consuming (assuming you read them). If in doubt just call the AMC as I’m sure they will know exactly where that one irrelevant change is or of course it’s probably related to a state your not even in.

          Just for you Terry, I will have a try at your recommended Kool-aid flavor of the month (Sour grape).

          Again, good luck Terry, and don’t forget to pay your flat earth association dues tomorrow as its a new month.

          Seek the truth.

  11. Bill Johnson, I get the feeling you’ve got lots of time for the beach. Sounds like your reaping what you sowed during your illustrious appraisal career.

    If I’m mistaken, and your free time is a result of no volume, keep your fingers crossed that maybe when you get back there is an appraisal order sitting in your fax machine.

    I have several California appraiser friends who are hiring if you’re interested. Maybe time to convert your resume from a stone tablet to pdf.

    I’ll keep paying my association dues while you keep mowing your lawn.

    1. Sorry if any words are misspelllled Terry, it’s that darn fine beach sand off the Hotel del Coronado. As it relates to working for someone else Terry, working for 1/3 fee after a 50% AMC fee split is no way to make a living. Tell your friends no thanks.

      Pool girl, more grapes please.

      Let me leave you with this Terry, never give up an opportunity to document and save what you’ve learned especially in the world of appraising. Stone tablets or not, it may help to have personal records from that PUD built in the 90’s(builder brochures, etc.), or to know the APN breakdown of that 20 phase condo project.

      Good luck Terry, and remember to seek the truth.

    2. Sorry Terry, I left out the most important part relating to my past comment “never give up an opportunity to document and save what you’ve learned especially in the world of appraising”.

      That is, do as I do or don’t, put partner up with dozens and dozens of other LOCAL appraisers (yes I have seek the truth friends / sorry no Facebook invitations here), so that the information you obtain can be shared with others. Hell, I/we were and are an all star team prior to Dustin even selling tickets to his first ever round table (how does he get those round pegs into those square holes anyway). Terry, if you think hiring a virtual assistant from the Philippines at $6 an hour is powerful, try having an army of like minded LOCAL appraisers working together to seek the truth and SHARE the truth for the love of the game (for free).

      Will you have access to over 150,000 sketch’s like I do (saves hundreds of hours a year) , or have 1,000+ condo projects broken down and at your fingertips at year 1, no, but if you never seek the truth, record the truth, and or share the truth with like minded individuals, you will be stuck measuring your success by how you searched the world to find a virtual assistant.

  12. I also have friends in California who own storage lockers if you need a place to keep your 30 year old work files. They offer senior discounts.

    Now go take out your frustration on cracking some stone crab claws at The Del buffet. They also offer a senior discount.

  13. Terry, I can’t help from feeling sorry for your as I’m sure you’ve forgotten how to type (what does your generation call it, Talk to text) so I’m going to give you one last bit of advice.

    If you don’t do VA work, then what every you do, apply. In my area where they in essence didn’t seem to add many appraisers for over a decade (even older dodgers than me), from start to finish, my journey took 15 years. Apply, apply, apply. Yes my advice is for you sign up with the VA, but if you don’t seek the truth, you won’t find the answers that are often right in from of you. I know you don’t have a pen and paper (pen is for writing, paper is to be written on / sorry just YouTube it), but any way what your after are the keys to the lender building. The key to the building is the point of contact (POC) which is most likely the processor for the lender. I know your generation loves to Magellan, Snap, Yahoo, Google, Hotbot, and Ask Jeeves for answers (lender / AMC contact lists), but here’s a thought, how about you take an old school approach and ask the POC (the key) what they do for non VA lending appraisals. In time, you will find many have small in-house appraisal panels that they may or may not be adding to for full pay (no AMC splits).

    Before I get a single no star on my side from this site, I can give you no more sound advice Terry.

    Go make up a value, and remember to SEEK the truth.

  14. FWIW (for what it’s worth), I’ve been a VA appraiser for over 10 years. Sorry, your advice fell on deaf ears.

    Ask Jeeves ?! C’mon Boomer, you can do better than that.

    Here’s a thought; Take an entry level business class. Something below 101. Grade school might be more your speed.

    They would probably tell you something like “Billy, you can open a hot dog stand selling only hot dogs, but good luck and godspeed when your competitor down the street sells the same hot dog but also offers fries and shakes on their menu.”

    Take off your blinders Billy. It sounds like you actually might know how to make a decent hot dog. Expand your business horizons before your hot dog stand gets razed to make way for an In-N-Out Burger. That’s Highest and Best Use if you’re taking notes.

    1. I tried Terry, but considering you apparently have all of the knowledge and answers but still can’t find a rotation of clients that don’t include AMC’s, I would suggest you buy all of Dustin’s VHS tapes so you can become a better appraiser. Expand your business all you want, but if you lose focus and produce garbage food regardless of how many items you have on the menu, then you will lose your old clients and always be searching for more.

      Just because your Xbox gives you unlimited lives Terry, does not mean in the real world you can fail as an appraiser and reset multiple times and keep your clients. Good luck constantly finding new clients while you keep resetting the game Terry, but for me I’m still on life 1 of 3 and the quarters lined up are not my competitors waiting to play, but are good paying clients waiting for my services.

      Again Terry, good luck to you, respect your elders, and most importantly good luck to you when you receive your end of month appraisal score matrix ratings from those AMC’s who are controlling you.

      Seek the truth.

  15. I respect elders who are worthy of respect. You should respect your juniors solely for the fact that they have something you don’t have and will never have….time. Good Day Sir.

  16. Seeing the love and immoral acceptance of the AMC system combined with the eagerness to ship jobs overseas, just exactly how much time do you and other like believers have Terry?

    Good luck with your profit before principles take on life Terry.

    Seek the truth.

  17. Actually, Bill, you have forgotten to add in operating costs and profit. I think a VA in the US begins around $20 out the door. The great thing about a VA is that you can pay on demand and not have to take on the risk of paying this person should a major change occur in your work or personal life.

    Additionally, the industry must change in many other ways. Computing, databases, AI, etc… all will continue to make much of our day to day activities obsolete. The forward-looking appraiser should be thinking about harvesting and owning the data that will be used in the future. They should be looking to automate as much as possible. And yet, they should seek to preserve the place of being the most granular data wonk in the profession and the commitment to providing unbias reports. Just my $0.02. Cheers.

    1. I understand the business decision Ashton, but why does the author go to such extraordinary lengths to tell us the readers about how his virtual assistant (VA)”comfortably supports herself and her entire family on her income”? It’s because Dustin know’s “He sometimes is criticized for hiring assistants outside of the United States”, and wants to be as vanilla (no racist intent) as possible so as not to turn off a percentage of appraisers who may buy his services.

      Question those who ignore and or sugarcoat the truth for their benefit.

      Seek the truth.

Leave a Reply to Terry P Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.