Did your child’s high school rank among best in U.S. News & World Report?

via OC Register

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Corona del Mar High School ranked as the 40th best public high school in California in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings released this week.

Three schools in Irvine cracked the top 100 statewide again this year: University High at 46, Northwood High, at 68, and Beckman High, at 74. University and Northwood are in the Irvine Unified School District, and Beckman is in the Tustin Unified School District.

Troy High School in Fullerton came in 69th – up from its 97th spot last year. Orange County School of Arts, in Santa Ana, placed 72nd in the state, four paces ahead of its No. 76 ranking last year.

Noticeable in its absence was Oxford Academy in Cypress, a magnet school that has consistently ranked among the top schools in the state and even in the nation for the past decade.

“We believe there was some kind of glitch,” said Michael Matsuda, superintendent for the Anaheim Union High School District.

There were no drops at Oxford in any of the metrics the magazine considers, and in some cases, Oxford ranked even higher, Matsuda said. Last year, the school was second best in the state, and 16th best in the nation.

U.S. News was unable to compute the school’s college-readiness index because Common Core data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics did not include necessary information, such as grade 12 enrollment numbers, said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News.

Other Anaheim Union districts schools that typically garner silver and bronze medals got none this year and according to the rankings, some of the data also appears to be missing from the magazine rankings published online, said Manuel Colón, the district’s chief academic officer.

Only two of Anaheim Union district’s high schools netted a silver medal: Kennedy, ranked 298 in the state, and Cypress, ranked 236.

No Orange County school ranked among the top 100 nationally.

Whitney High School in neighboring Cerritos ranked top in the state and 19th best in the country.

Another area school that ranked high was the California Math and Science Academy, part of the Long Beach Unified School District, which came in as 10th best school in the state.

The magazine evaluated nearly 20,000 schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Analysts looked at various measures, including whether each school’s students were performing better than statistically expected for students in that state and whether disadvantaged students – black, Hispanic and low-income – were outperforming disadvantaged students in the state.

Another consideration was how well schools prepare students for college, based on scores of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams. For the first time, graduation rates were added as a measure.

“Parents should look at multiple indicators always … but certainly the U.S. News and World Report is another benchmark of how healthy a school district or specific school is,” Matsuda said. “In this case … there was a mistake.”

Better to be a seller than buyer: O.C. home prices hit 7 1/2-year high, nearing 2007 housing bubble

via OC Register

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Orange County’s spring homebuying season rocketed into high gear last month, with prices and sales already outdistancing last year’s buying frenzy, figures released Monday show.

The median price of an Orange County home – or the sale price at the midpoint of all transactions – was $625,000 in the year ending in March. That’s up 6.8 percent and within $20,000 of the all-time high reached at the peak of the housing bubble in June 2007, Irvine-based data firm CoreLogic reported.

If prices continue going up at a rate of 4 percent or more, the median will surpass the bubble’s high-water mark by June.

Sales, meanwhile, ticked up to the highest level in a decade for the month of March.

CoreLogic reported 3,181 transactions closed last month. While that’s up just a 0.8 percent from a year ago, it’s still the highest March tally since 2006.

“The market is definitely continuing to improve,” said Huntington Beach Re/Max agent Brian Kamenca. “It’s not cooling off.”

Home prices have risen steadily for four straight years in Orange County and in Southern California as a whole, with the Orange County median climbing $225,000 since March 2012.

First-quarter inventory was at the lowest level in three years, increasing competition among buyers, according to Steve Thomas’ ReportsOnHousing.com.

The bottom line: It’s more fun right now to be a seller than a buyer.

Erin and Owen Campbell have seen the market from both sides, as both sellers and buyers.

The family of eight decided to sell the cramped century-old Craftsman they owned in Orange and move into roomier digs closer to their children’s school in Costa Mesa. Being a seller was far easier than being a buyer, Erin Campbell said.

The Campbells contacted their agent around Martin Luther King Day to say they were “thinking of selling.” A week later, “we already had a full-priced offer.”

Buying was a bit trickier because there were so few homes for sale in the neighborhood where the family was looking.

“The one that we ended up buying, the listing price sounded reasonable, but we didn’t have anything to compare it to,” Erin Campbell said. Both sales closed in March. And selling with just one showing and no open houses made it extremely easy.

“It’s hard to have a tiny house with six kids with a lot of showings,” Erin Campbell said.

Some homesellers may be attempting to exploit their advantage by overreaching in setting their asking prices, said Kamenca, the Huntington Beach broker-associate at Re/Max.

He noted that out of more than 900 recently listed homes, 500 had lowered their prices.

“That tells me a lot of sellers are fishing,” Kamenca said. But, he added, “homes that are priced right are moving quickly.”

CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage noted that the market still remains somewhat constrained.

“Many would-be buyers continue to face hurdles such as waning affordability, moderately tight credit and a relatively tight inventory of homes for sale,” LePage said in a prepared statement.

But, he added, “the new-home market has registered a stronger heartbeat.” New-home sales jumped 26.5 percent in Orange County year-over-year last month and increased 25 percent during the first three months of the year.

Market watcher Steve Thomas reported the number of homes for sale finally reached 2015 levels by the first week of April – too late to affect March numbers. But demand rose accordingly.

The time needed to sell all Orange County listings fell to less than two months in late March, Thomas reported. And for homes priced at $750,000 and below, the listings could all be sold in 37 days at the current buying pace.

“The hot market came back with a vengeance,” Thomas wrote. “Below $750,000 is red hot. … Home values are climbing and it’s a deep seller’s market.”

Larry Roberts, an author and real estate blogger-turned-broker, wrote Monday that low mortgage rates and an improving economy are boosting both home sales and prices. Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a three-year low.

“As long as mortgage rates remain low, I expect house prices to continue rising and sales will be strong,” Roberts wrote.

In Southern California as a whole, the median home price rose 5.6 percent to $449,000, the region’s highest median in 8½ years, CoreLogic figures show. Home prices in the six-county area are $56,000 below the all-time high of $505,000.

CoreLogic reported 20,370 homes sold in the region, up 1.9 percent from 2015 and the most for a March since 2013.

Prices were up in all six counties, with Riverside posting the region’s biggest price surge: up 8.2 percent to $330,000.

Sales rose everywhere but Los Angeles County, which had a 1.4 percent drop from 2015 levels. The biggest sales gain occurred in San Bernardino County, where transactions jumped 7.7 percent.

Buyer Carie Murphy said many of the properties she was looking at had multiple offers already, and she wanted to steer clear of a bidding war.

She ended up buying a two-story townhome in Anaheim, with a two-car garage in a complex with a pool, spa and tennis courts.

“It was tough to be a buyer, absolutely,” said Murphy, 56, who relocated for work from Joplin, Mo. “The options available were in high demand.”

 

Video listing of the day: European-inspired estate

Located on an ultra-private two-acre lot in Southern California

via Inman News

The estates dotting the hilltops in Europe provided the stimulus for this custom-built residence nestled into the hillside of this Southern California guard-gated community known as The Country in Diamond Bar. 3015 Steeplechase Lane is a thoughtful compilation of horizontal building forms, brick elements and detailed accents that remind you of a quaint European village.

For more information on the property, click here.

This video listing was contributed by Raj Qsar and Christina Boladian of The Boutique Real Estate Group.

 

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How Agents Can Give Back

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As your business takes off in real estate, it’s important to maintain the relationships already established with not only your former clients but also in the communities you serve.

One of the best ways for agents to gain exposure and build new relationships with potential clients is through the gift of giving. Recently, Raj Qsar of The Boutique RE, a residential real estate brokerage in Orange County, California took this idea for a spin.

They teamed up with Giveback Homes and Soul Cycle for a unique way to give back to the community. By reaching out to their network, they organized a #RidetoBuild spin class to help raise the funds needed to build a home for a deserving family.

Raj and his realtor friends managed to raise the money and feel the burn while helping to better the life of a family in need with the guided help of Giveback Homes.

Fueled by the passion of real estate pros like Sindeo Advisory Board Member, Raj Qsar, and hundreds of other leaders in real estate, Giveback Homes has made the opportunity to give back easier than ever.

Giveback Homes provides their members with marketing and design services, tutorials on how to incorporate giving into their business, local Build Days, international Build Trips, and tangible results of the impact they’re making throughout the world.

Recently, Sindeo helped fund a home for Marie in Haiti and Arcadio in El Salvador, and has plans to join Giveback Homes for their first Build Day in San Francisco this Spring.

Want to help too? Click here to donate to the San Francisco project or any of their Build Projects throughout the world.

For real estate professionals ready to join the social good movement, enter “sindeo” as your building code for a reduced rate of $30/month.

How to turn Starbucks into a lead goldmine

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Get out of the office and make personal connections that generate leads.

  • Starbucks and other places like it are great locations to generate leads.
  • Be consistent and focus on creating relationships that build credibility and lead to sales down the line.
  • Always bring marketing materials and discreetly advertise yourself with branded accessories, such as a laptop cover.

Starbucks isn’t only the place to pick up your daily triple nonfat latte with a drizzle of caramel and extra foam on the side — it’s also a great place to find leads.

In Lab Coat Agents, James Michaelin recounts how he got two leads in one morning at Starbucks thanks to good listening and quick action.

“I overheard a business meeting that someone was starting a business and they brought up needing to find a Realtor for a location,” he wrote. “Well, [the] keyword Realtor was said so of course I introduced myself, gave my card to both of them and they [wanted] to get together soon.”

Twenty minutes later, James got another lead from a man who overheard his conversation with the two businessmen.

As it turns out, Michaelin isn’t the only agent who uses Starbucks as a lead-generating tool. There’s been a lot of chatter online over the past two months about the power of Starbucks and other places like it, such as Panera Bread or even Dunkin’ Donuts.

Here’s some of the advice agents gave on how to make Starbucks work for you:

1. Mark it on your weekly schedule

Raj Qsar goes to Starbucks three times a week to do local real estate research and work on handwritten thank-you notes. Because of his consistency, customers expect Qsar to be there and look forward to asking him questions.

2. Make your presence known

Agents aren’t the only people who use Starbucks as a second office. Most of the people are there are to get work done and rarely look up from their phone, tablet or laptop.

So how do you let people know a Realtor is in the room? JT Takacs suggests telling the cashier to write “Realtor (insert name)” on your cup, so when the barista calls your name, everyone will know your profession.

3. Discreetly advertise yourself with branded accessories 

Order a customized laptop cover that has your name, logo, website URL and a great call-to-action. Amanda Miller Hudson says: “I have the Realtor ‘R’ logo in sticker form over the apple on my MacBook Pro. It works! I picked up a seller lead last November at Panera.”

4. Focus on making personal connections before generating leads

What agents love about Starbucks is the chance to get from behind the tech wall and make real-time, face-to-face connections. Don’t stop in with the expectation that you’ll walk out with a handful of deals each day, because as many will attest, there will be days and weeks when you won’t.

But you will build the relationships and familiarity crucial to establishing your brand and long-term success.

5. Offer on-the-spot advice

When Zillow evangelist Jay Thompson goes to Starbucks, he brings a sign that says: “Have a real estate question? Fire away!” And he buys a cup of coffee for those who are brave enough to take the offer.

6. Bring marketing materials

This seems like a given, but some may feel apprehensive about bringing their regular marketing materials with them into Starbucks. David Fresquez suggests having a set of “ready-made buyer or seller folders that includes information about you, your latest accomplishments along with some social proof.”

Keep these folders in your briefcase, backpack or bag and give them to your potential lead once your conversation is done.

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7. Small sacrifices can hook a big fish

At Luxury Connect in October, Josh Altman shared a story about how he was able to snare a sale at Starbucks. He frequents one Los Angeles store in particular and had purchased his coffee when he saw a well-known celebrity join the line.

So Altman threw out his just-procured drink and stepped in line behind the celeb, struck up a conversation and discovered he was looking for a home. He offered the star $1,000 to come with him to a place he thought would fit the bill — certain it was perfect. And it was. Being willing to throw out the coffee and offer money to show sincerity generated a happy ending to the story, a $12 million sale.

Do you have any extra advice for getting leads at Starbucks? What are some other places you like to hang out? Share them in the comments below.

Via Marian McPherson and Inman News

Inman Launches Broker War Room Facebook Group

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It’s a forum for advice and mentorship where brokers in the real estate industry can share best practices.

Inman has launched a new Facebook group for for brokers, franchise executives and real estate company leadership. Inman’s Broker War Room is a forum for advice and mentorship where brokers in the real estate industry can share best practices, help each other solve gnarly problems and become better owners.

Members are limited to broker-owners, executives and franchise team members.

It’s a closed group, but brokers and their employees, as well as franchise members, can join here.

“We created this group for brokers, by brokers and with brokers,” said Inman publisher Brad Inman. “The best advice and counsel can come from one another, not consultants, gurus or, god forbid, journalists.”

Real estate broker Raj Qsar and Stacy Stateham, vice president of marketing at Bloom Tree Realty, are serving as volunteer administrators for the group

“With so many Facebook groups geared toward agents, there is a void for real estate company leadership,” said Stateham. “Until now! As much as every real estate brokerage and company is unique in how we go to market, we have a lot of similarities in the common challenges that we all face, and my hope is that the Broker War Room gives us a place to collaborate and share.”

The 200 Most Powerful People in Residential Real Estate

January 13th, 2016

What is Power?

Power is an elusive concept. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the ability or right to control people or things.” Of course that raises the question of what is meant by “control.” Control is defined as directing the behavior of, or to cause a person to do something. Power can also exist even though it may not be exercised, simply because having power can discourage others from challenging it.

Not easy, nor straightforward. So you can just imagine the healthy debate we had as to what criteria should be used in creating such a list. But we all agree what this is not. It is not a popularity contest. It is a not casual quick selection of people you know. It is not based solely on head count, office count or revenue, and it is not pay-to-play.

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In the end, the SP200 is based on a great deal of research. We scoured the Web, read hundreds of bios, read hundreds of LinkedIn pages, sent hundreds of requests for additional information, made endless telephone calls to verify or confirm statistics, and cross-referenced data with surveys and reviewed company financials, and annual reports, and announcements. In short, we did more homework than anyone else does.

So after some 400 hours of evaluation, eight members of the SP200 Editorial Committee got together for a face-off to deliberate the nominees (see VIDEO here). Some people have entrepreneurial power, and some have financial strength, some hold high office, some have personal power, some have positional power while others have political clout. Some are innovators, some executives, some doers, some dealmakers. It doesn’t matter. We have tried to analyze them all and listed leaders in nine different categories – check the tabs at the top of the page.

Congrats to our very own CEO & Founder Raj Qsar for being named to the SP200 for 2016. Honoring The Most Powerful 200 People in Residential Real Estate for the category of Social Media Influencers.

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Playboy Mansion Sale Is Next Step in Business Transformation: Exclusive Photos

Asking $200 million, Playboy Enterprises plans to reinvest the proceeds of the sale; a buyer would have to remodel the ‘dated’ interiors and let tenant Hugh Hefner remain.

The Playboy Mansion—the sprawling Los Angeles house that over four decades came to embody Hollywood’s sybaritic party culture—is going on the market for $200 million.

Longtime resident Hugh Hefner has no plans to leave: Seller Playboy Enterprises is stipulating Mr. Hefner, 89, be allowed to remain at the home for the rest of his life.

Founded by Mr. Hefner in 1953, Playboy helped usher in the sexual revolution, but more recently has shed staff and reorganized its business. Scott Flanders, Playboy Enterprises’ chief executive, said in a statement that the sale of the mansion “enables us to continue to reinvest in the transformation of our business.” “The Playboy Mansion has been a creative center for Hef as his residence and workplace for the past 40 years, as it will continue to be if the property is sold,” he added.

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On roughly 5 acres, the property is one of the largest in Holmby Hills and borders the Los Angeles Country Club. According to listing agentsMauricio Umansky of the Agency and Gary Gold andDrew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland, the mansion is roughly 20,000 square feet. The property includes an elaborate swimming pool and grotto, zoo and game house.

The estate is in need of renovation. “The house will require remodeling, for sure,” Mr. Umansky said, though he added that the value of the land alone is close to $100 million. The home’s interiors are “dated and will need to be remodeled and redesigned,” he said. Moreover, a buyer may want to increase the size of the house.

Acquired by Playboy Enterprises in 1971 for $1.05 million, the mansion is the longtime home of Mr. Hefner, who rents the mansion from the company for a “small, nominal amount each year,” according to a Playboy spokesperson. While Mr. Hefner’s remaining at the property is “nonnegotiable,” Mr. Umansky said, the exact terms of the arrangement will be determined during purchase negotiations.

The Mansion has six bedrooms, six full baths and two half baths, the agents said. The first floor has a great hall with 22-foot-high ceilings and custom hand-carved oak panels. Two staircases lead up to the second floor, where the master suite and other bedrooms are located, along with four offices. The living room is also used as a movie screening room, where there is a pipe organ that has been restored over the past decade. An office, with hand-carved wooden walls, has a secret door to the wine cellar. The party-ready kitchen has a butler pantry and a walk-in refrigerator and freezer.

Outside sit the heated swimming pool and a grotto, which were built in the 1970s after Mr. Hefner purchased the mansion. The cavelike grotto contains four separate hot tubs. The pool area also includes a koi pond, and an outdoor bar and kitchen. A stone bathhouse has four changing rooms, a sauna, gym and a tanning area.

The property also has a zoo with exotic birds and monkeys, and is one of only a few, if not the only, home in Los Angeles to have a zoo license, Mr. Umansky said. He added that the zoo license would transfer to the new owner along with the property.

The separate game house has poker and pool tables, pinball machines, a piano and an old-fashioned Wurlitzer jukebox with jazz recordings. The property also contains a four-bedroom guesthouse with two bathrooms, a sitting room and a solarium.

The Boutique Real Estate Group Rides To Build

Newport Beach, Ca

The Boutique Real Estate Group teams up with Giveback Homes & Soul Cycle Newport Beach to help build a home in Orange County for a deserving family.

GivebackHomes is a trusted network of real estate professionals dedicated to creating social change through the act of buying or selling a home. By simply choosing to work with a Giveback Homes real estate agent, you will help build a home for a family in need. People want to work with people who are doing good, and Giveback Homes is making it easy to find them. Founders, Blake Andrews and Caroline Pinal were recently named to the prestigious Inman 101 List highlighting the Most Influential 101 people in real estate for 2015.

The Boutique Real Estate Group, a worldwide luxury real estate brokerage, with national & international recognition and known for its brilliant design, beautiful marketing, luxury services and world-class technology has made a commitment to partner with Giveback Homes for their Orange County build day. “Our goal of raising $5,000 to help build a home for a family in need is our goal,” says, Founder/Owner Raj Qsar. “Our brokerage is motivated and so encouraged by the work that Giveback Homes has been doing in the real estate industry,” says agent Christina Boladian with The Boutique.

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Joining The Boutique in the cause are other celebrity and well known Real Estate Companies and personalities including; Mauricio Umansky with The Agency, Madison Hildebrand with Pacific Union, Joyce Rey with Coldwell Banker Previews International, David Parnes & James Harris with Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and Roh Habibi from Million Dollar Listing San Francisco.

The next international build project for Giveback Homes is in Nigaragua and they only have 4 spots left. To register see below.

Click here to register
Enter: GV16118 as your event code.

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About The Boutique Real Estate Group:

2017 Real Estate Video Influencer Award
2017 REAL Trends Finalist for Best Overall Website
2017 Inman News Innovator Award for Most Innovative Brokerage
2017 Inman News Real Estate Influencer Of The Year
2016 Top 100 Real Estate Influencers on Social Media
2016 Inman News Innovator Award for Most Innovative Brokerage
2016 SP 200 The Most Powerful People In Residential Real Estate
2015 Inman News Innovator Award for Most Innovative Technology
2015 Top 33 People Changing The Real Estate Industry
2014 Best Real Estate Video of The Year
2014 Inman News Innovator Award for Most Innovative Real Estate Agent
2014 Next Generation Real Estate Brokerage
2014 Top 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders in The USA
2013 Top 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders in The USA
2013 Top 20 Real Estate Videos in The USA

 

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