Inman Real Estate Connect 2017 – Best Places to Eat

By Raj Qsar & SF.Eater

If your headed to Inman Connect in San Francisco this summer you are probably going to ask that question? Where are we going to dinner. Well, since this is my 6th ICSF and my 10th overall Inman Connect I thought I would share with you some of my latest research for the top foodie spots in the city.

ICSF_FBCover_02

Most of us will be hitting some sort of happy hour, soiree, after party or after after party the entire week but sometimes you just wanna sit down with your friends, crack open an amazing bottle of wine and just catch up with some of your nearest & dearest. With that thought in mind I have hand selected a few hotspots for ICSF 2017:

  1. The Riddler: Champagne, caviar, and the coziest corner in Hayes Valley all led by some serious boss ladies. Ladies aren’t the only ones loving this elegant take on a European Champagne bar— it’s quickly become must-hang spot for San Franciscans of all stripes. Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 2.32.54 PM
  2. Hitachino Beer & Wagyu: After a much-hyped opening with reservations booking up for weeks at a time, Hitachino continues to be very popular destination. Drop in at dinner for a taste of ten Hitachino beers on draft, or attempt to snag a reservation for wagyu in the back, which ranges from tongue skewers to ramen. Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 2.37.15 PM
  3. Beretta: This Mission hotspot is always packed, with good reason. The menu is rife with antipasti, pizzas, pastas, risottos, and rotating daily specials like cioppino and short ribs. While you wait for a table, grab one of the excellent cocktails at the bar, and plot your dining strategy. It’s open late night (food til 1 a.m.). Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 2.42.18 PM
  4. Khai Restaurant: If the chef is going to personally serve me dinner then its a must stop while in SF. Originally known for Ana Mandara (which closed in 2012), chef Khai Duong is back with a $95 tasting menu-only dining experience in SoMa. The small restaurant is staffed by just a few, and dishes are often delivered by the chef himself. Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 2.46.57 PM
  5. Mourad: OMG. This place looks sooo bomb!! he restaurant itself is big and beautiful, matched only by chef Mourad Lahlou’s Moroccan-inspired flavors. Choose from a la carte options like duck basteeya and family-style, large format dishes of lamb and short rib, or go for the tasting menu. Drinks are equally inspired, featuring combinations like pineapple and artichoke. Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 2.49.46 PM

Hoping to meet as many of you as I can during Inman Connect SF 2017. I will be presenting at the Indy Broker Summit on Monday as well.

You can connect with me here:

Instagram

Facebook

Web

Just for Fun

Inman Innovator Awards 2017

via inman

They are the visionaries, the forward-thinking, the stubborn, the obsessed, the tech-savvy, the creative minds always pushing boundaries. They are entrepreneurs pushing the old ways aside, data scientists discovering new ways to examine behavior, marketers inventing new ways to showcase properties, agents developing new ways to reach clients, companies building new technologies, brokerages creating whole new ways of doing business. They are the Inman Innovator Finalists, and they’re leading us into the future of real estate.

He’s an entrepreneur who made himself into a media brand. She’s an agent who landed a $20 million listing after just a year in the business. It’s a company that developed an augmented-reality tool to show prospective buyers what an interior-decorated home might look like — during a showing, on their phones. They’re all finalists.

“We are honored to celebrate so much creativity and invention,” said Inman publisher Brad Inman. “Never in the history of the Innovator Awards has there been so much innovation and, therefore, never has our list of finalists been so large — these are exciting times.”

This is our 4th nomination for an Inman Innovator Award and we are truly thrilled, said, “Raj Qsar,” Founder & Owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group. What we are doing is truly impacting real estate on a global scale and helping our agents and clients succeed.

Who will win? The 2017 Inman Innovators will be revealed at Inman Connect in San Francisco the week of August 7-11, 2017, followed by the not-to-be-missed party that’ll wrap up Inman Connect San Francisco and celebrate the Inman Innovators.

MOST INNOVATIVE BROKERAGE

 

The-Boutique-Real-Estate-Group_thumb-

 

The Boutique Real Estate Group

logo-1

Inman Innovator Awards 2016 Nomination

via Inman

The Inman Innovator Awards are given each year to recognize and celebrate industry innovation and accomplishments.

Who qualifies?

In some cases, a specific app, technology or business process qualifies someone for consideration. In other cases, the company as a whole consistently tries new things, adopts new technology or creates a new culture or approach to real estate.

How does the selection process work — and who decides?

The process for selection begins with identifying companies and individuals who meet these standards. A list of prospects is culled from input from the Inman editorial team and leaders in the industry.

The final decision on finalists and winners is made by editor Amber Taufen and publisher Brad Inman, and the Inman editorial team gives feedback throughout the process.

Innovator Bash

This year for the first time, Inman will be announcing one winner in each category plus two runners-up — for a total of three noteworthy names.

The winners will be announced when the red carpet is rolled out for the Innovator Bash. Do not miss this one-of-a-kind industry event, August 4, 2016, at 8 p.m. at Inman Connect. Dress up, walk down the red carpet, drink, eat, dance and celebrate industry innovation.

 

c713f329-67df-4474-9f63-7a0d14e8783d

How to turn Starbucks into a lead goldmine

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 6.56.59 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 7.02.29 AM

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

12508707_10153193268226020_140202057026410084_n

 

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 Boutique Real Estate Group Rides To Build

January 10th, 2016

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 for 2016,” 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.

IMG_0852

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 Partners Trust, 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 from March 1st – March 5th 2016 and they only have 4 spots left. To register see below.

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

IMG_0844

 

About The Boutique Real Estate Group:

2015 Inman News Innovator Award for Most Innovative Technology | Finalist
2015 Top 33 People Changing The Real Estate Industry
2014 Inman News Innovator Award for Most Innovative Real Estate Agent | Finalist
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

 

Tom Schick on What’s Next in Tech for 2016

Inman is interviewing industry thought leaders to find out what’s next in 2016. Here’s Tom Schick, an agent at The Boutique Real Estate Group.

What are your technology predictions for 2016?

The push towards the high-tech agent is expanding the gap between the great agents and the good agents. I see the best companies hiring technology specialists to assist with clients, listings and marketing.

I also see the rise of marketing automation, to stay in touch with people, generate new leads and respond to property inquiries. More agents in 2016 are getting into the tech trends to improve agent websites, capture leads through apps, ads and websites, and to tell the story and capture the emotions of buyers in property websites.

We at The Boutique Real Estate Group pride ourselves on staying in front of the tech curve.

What big tech trends are you watching?

I’m personally moving marketing dollars around from the typical Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com spending, and moving it into Adwerx, Google Adwords and lead-generating sites such as “get your home value” or localized sites to target specific neighborhoods.

I use apps like MLS-Touch to give my buyers and sellers the most up to date information when we’re out in the field, and I really like what RESAAS is doing to connect agents all around the world through a social site similar to Facebook. I’m involved in several groups in the RESAAS network including referral groups and brainstorming panels for marketing and tech trends.

What is more important: mobile or cloud?

I think mobile is still more important for my clients, but the cloud is more important for the doc-sharing and collaborating inside of our real estate firm. In my world, they are both critical to growing my business.

I use an iPhone 6 Plus, and I love being able to share my incredible property videos and websites with clients. Here’s an example:www.4582OceanRidge.com.

Today, I use my mobile device to type more emails than I do my computer. Being able to be out with my clients or out being social is critical to me growing my business, so I don’t like to be at a computer for more than a couple of hours a day.

I also use mobile apps like Docusign mobile, zipForms mobile, the Google Drive app and the Dropbox app.

Will the tech bubble burst?

No, I don’t think so. It’s not a bubble. Today, the tech world doesn’t have a ceiling or an end in sight.

What is next for Zillow?

Is it taking over the world? No, just kidding.

Zillow has become this online real estate listing giant. I saw that its agreement with ListHub has come to an end, so it’s going to have to develop new relationships with individual MLSs and individual brokers.

Just like everyone else, Zillow has to continue to reinvent itself, or it will get lost in the dust. Individual agents and brokers are creating their own search sites, and I think that will take away from the major portal sites.

Will the Broker Public Portal be launched in 2016?

It looks like its close to happening. Broker Public Portal LLC, is working on coming up with the data license agreement with MLSs. I like the idea of being able to brand the MLS experience for clients.

Will Upstream be launched in 2016?

Yes, it looks likes NAR and Upstream are working through the details now. It’s about time that technology jumps into our MLS system to streamline data entry and help autopopulate forms. We use the CRMLS system, which is getting better, but going into other MLS systems can be quite the time-waster for a busy agent.

Hopefully, Upstream will help to streamline record keeping and data entry.

How will predictive search change homebuying?

I think predictive search will help agents key in on the specific locations and needs for their clients. When buying a home, there are so many factors such as location, size of house, school districts, traffic and freeways, shopping, crime rate, local hobbies, etc. I think buyers will have a better idea of where they want to search for a house and this will save time for both the buyer and the agent. I’ve worked with some buyers that know what they want, and others that are relocating and want to see 10+ cities, to narrow things down.

Will on-demand showings go mainstream?

I think on-demand is a great backup plan if time is limited…but I believe that you can’t replace a good, seasoned agent with a randomly chosen agent. Buyer’s agents constantly complain about losing clients to other agents, or buyers not being loyal. I think building a relationship and trust with your buyer is critical, and I haven’t lost many buyers over the 12-plus years that I’ve been in real estate.

It’s not all about locating the house and moving right in. A seasoned agent can negotiate price, repairs and many important details of a buyers transaction.

Will the automated offer become reality in 2016?

I don’t think the automated offer will become a reality. Some sites claim that they help cherry-pick the best real estate bargains and submit offers for their clients. I don’t think it’s smart, and I don’t like the idea of automated offers.

A seller and a buyer need an agent who works specifically with their best interest in mind, and automating offers doesn’t sound like a good way to accomplish that. Buying a house isn’t a small investment, so I feel that a lot of time should be spent with a trusted and respected Realtor.

Will Closing in a Box happen in 2016?

Closing in a Box is a great idea. We already offer all of these items to our clients, and my amazing transaction coordinator keeps my files neat and orderly. Having all of these functions in one app or website is a great idea, though.

How will machine learning change real estate?

Machine learning will help agents and loan officers see which people are likely to buy or sell. It will cut down on time and save a lot of marketing money.

We have a couple systems that show us trends, such as ReboGateway, but one of our lenders at Primary Residential Mortgage has created a system that has really helped my business.

18 Inspiring Real Estate Instagram Accounts to Follow

San Clemente Pier

Instagram is a mobile force to be reckoned with. With 400 million users, it’s larger than Twitter, and advertisers report that ads on the service outperform those on other platforms.

But beyond the photo filters, Instagram can also be a new way to generate business. Real estate professionals like Anne Jones, Joyce Rey and Dusty Baker all make Instagram a core part of their branding and marketing efforts. Companies like Windermere and Houlihan Lawrence have turned the service into a powerful new way to promote their listings. And accounts like Haute Residence have built large audiences around their tempting listing photos.

If you’re looking to spruce up your Instagram feed, learn what’s working when it comes to real estate, or simply figure out if the service is right for you, we’ve put together a list of 18 inspirational Instagram accounts worth following.

Have an account we missed? Share it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list.

1. The Boutique Real Estate Group
2. Anne Jones, Windermere
3. Joyce Rey, Joyce Rey Real Estate
4. Dusty Baker, Keller Williams Realty, Montecito, California
5. Chad Carroll, The Chad Caroll Group
6. Nikki Beauchamp, Engel & Volkers New York
7. The Broke Agent
8. Shawn Elliot, Shawn Elliot Luxury Homes & Estates
9. Fredrik Eklund, Douglas Elliman
10. Windermere
11. Live Urban Denver
12. Caroline Gosselin, Prominent Properties
13. Kim Colaprete, Team Diva Real Estate
14. Audie Chamberlain, Lion & Orb
15. Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Team Miamism
16. Marguerite Giguere, Windermere Real Estate
17. Hawai’i Life Real Estate Brokers
18. Houlihan Lawrence 

 

 

4 ways to grow your real estate marketing content — and business.

via Inman

Fortune-stock_230307874

Here are a few innovative tips to garner engaging local content.

You can’t open a trade publication these days without seeing an article urging real estate professionals to generate content in order to build their brand and get more business. It makes sense — who buys and sells houses? People. What do people like? To be enlightened, informed and entertained. That’s what great content does.

Coldwell Banker is one of the leaders in this area, and it recently teamed up with MLB.com to take fans inside the homes of their favorite players.

Why content?

Many real estate professionals ask whether content creation has any real tangible benefits in getting homes sold. Top producers tend to look at the bigger picture. Tim Smith of Smith Group Real Estate says, “High-quality marketing increases the perceived value of the property.” In other words, when you make a video about a house, you’re saying to the world, “This place is worth it.”

“When we show up at a property with a truck and equipment and actors and a tent, it causes curiosity within the neighborhood,” said Raj Qsar, principal and owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group. “It gives us a way to connect with the neighborhood on a hyperlocal level. Then they tell their friends and family about the house, and word gets out. It’s a long-tail plan.” Let’s face it: Nothing makes a seller happier than to see their home being given the star treatment.

“There’s a misconception across the industry as to why people do content marketing,” Qsar said. “Video is not just for the one listing — we make our video evergreen so it can live forever.”

And it sure doesn’t hurt to have an amazing video to show in your next listing presentation, either.

But for many Realtors, the thought of creating content tends to generate more guilt than inspiration. What kind of content should you be making? And how in the world are you expected to write a script or learn to edit video when there aren’t even enough hours in the day to generate leads and get deals done?

Good news: You don’t have to do it yourself. Here are four options to get great content.

1. Beef up your team.

Most brokerages that are serious about content creation begin by hiring in-house creative talent. “Content marketing needs to start with the leadership and culture of the brokerage,” Qsar said. “If the brokerage takes control and hires an in-house team, it only makes the agents and the brokerage more successful.”

Smith Group Real Estate has created a core in-house marketing team. They started out using outside production studios to generate their marketing materials but decided to bring production in-house in order to have more control over the creative product. “Outsiders don’t have direct communication with the sellers like we do,” Jade Schuck, public relations and marketing coordinator, said. “When the production is done in-house, we know the home, and we can do a lot more with the money.”

Pacific Union built an entire in-house journalism department to bring their clients the latest news via their blog. “We decided we had to become a journalism company,” CEO Mark McLaughlin said. And it worked. Back in January 2012 their blog had “zero traffic.” Now they have 5,800 unique users on their blog every month. McLaughlin puts this in context. “We sold about 5,700 homes last year. So, that means we have about as many people at our blog every single month as bought homes in a year … so we feel it’s a really relevant tool for our real estate professionals.”

2. Supplements are good for you.

Even with a strong in-house team, most brokerages bring in freelancers or even full production companies to round out their marketing team for larger listings.

“The content is all us, 100 percent,” said Qsar, who employs an in-house team that includes a social media manager, director of creative design, cinematographer and editors. They do bring in specialists as needed, such as drone operators and hyperlapse photographers, but they’re careful to set and maintain the creative tone and direction themselves.

The real estate team knows the home best, so it’s crucial that whenever you outsource, you communicate with the production company to convey the key selling points of the home and any details about the target demographics.

Schuck said when The Smith Group gets a listing, their process begins with a brainstorming session where they distill the essence of the home’s personality. Then they create different packages of marketing materials based on the sales price. They bring in freelancers with special skills as needed.

Schuck offers some advice for smaller real estate offices whose budgets might not allow an in-house production team: “Use your network to find good people to help.”

3. Be a patron of the arts.

If hiring a marketing team doesn’t work for you, there are other options. Any given neighborhood is packed with creators who just love to make content. They eat, sleep and breathe journalism, storytelling and photography. They’re constantly churning out videos and articles, blog posts and photographs. All you have to do is find them, and then work out a deal that works for both of you.

Try these sources:

Local bloggers: They know your neighborhood and what makes it significant. See if you can sponsor their work by making a small contribution. Being quoted in an article about the five best kid-friendly restaurants in town makes you an instant local expert.

School newspapers and videos: School newspapers can always use a few extra bucks to give their kids’ reporting a boost. Help them out and your name might be the one that shows up when prospective buyers search for their dream schools.

Filmmakers and videographers: In these days of YouTube, everyone from your babysitter to your mortgage broker has a script for a Web series somewhere on their hard drive. What they often lack is funding to get it made. Provide that and voila, you have yourself a grateful content creator who will mention your name, and maybe even give you a cameo role.

4. Ask your audience.

Another way to get great content is perhaps the most obvious: Just ask for it. User-generated content (UGC) is the buzzword, but what it means is getting your network to share their own photos, videos, articles and lists.

Consider holding a contest for the best photos of your local dog park, or give a shoutout to local bands to write a song in honor of your hometown. Then all you have to do is curate the best and put it online. People will come to your site to check out the latest and greatest — and they’re sure to notice your listings along the way.

At the time of this writing, Trails West Real Estate had just announced a competition asking students to create the best video about living in northwest Montana. They’re offering $12,000 to the winning school’s video and technology departments. This is a great way to get lots of content for your money, while becoming known as a local expert and supporter of the community. It’s likely we’ll see more and more content competition like this in which everyone comes out a winner.

Bottom line

The industry agrees that offering great content is the ideal way to engage your audience more deeply and for longer periods of time. That translates to leads, listings, sales and clients for life. Now you have some ways to get your hands on amazing content while keeping your focus on what you do best: selling real estate.

Erica Boisvert: ‘There is no algorithm for nuance’

via Inman Select

Erica dishes on the economy and maintaining agent value in 2015

Are you optimistic about 2015?

An approaching year always carries a certain sense of hope and excitement, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how work and new relationships from this year progress and grow in 2015.

The economy?

Yes; the economy has slowly, but progressively, gotten better, and the U.S. is working toward once again being a balanced and stable contributor to the global economy. Watching the unemployment rate get lower, seeing mortgage interest rates hover below 4 percent and knowing that the Federal Reserve is cautious about raising rates, which have effectively been around zero since 2008, leaves me feeling confident that slow and steady will win the race. Things are not as secure as we really need them to be, but we appear to be on the right path toward stabilization, which does leave me feeling optimistic about 2015. Also, with a presidential election on the horizon, it’s safe to say that things will continue to progress slowly and the Fed will proceed with caution.

The housing market?

The housing market has been fairly volatile in the recent past, but in late 2013 and into 2014 it feels as though things are getting back on track. Even with a little lull from the fall extending into winter the market is better now than it was a few years ago and appears to continue to get better.

Your success?

I’m very excited for a successful year … working with The Boutique Real Estate Group allows me the amazing opportunity to work with, and learn from, industry leaders. Whether it’s the introduction of the latest technological advancements, Raj Qsar stretching our company’s reach globally and teaching us about out-of-the-box market preparation for our client’s homes, or our in-house staff reminding us to build and nurture relationships, they all lend to our “boutique” culture of approaching real estate differently and effectively — and, as a result, thriving.

What are you worried about?

My worries tend to be more personal; will I connect with the right people?

How much do you fret about global events?

The global economy is such a force to be reckoned with and has so many constantly changing facets that it can be overwhelming … I don’t know that I worry about global events as much as I try to maintain a working knowledge of what’s occurring. Am I worried that the European and Japanese markets are set to tank? Yes. But I’m hopeful that the right people, who are much smarter than I am, are already addressing the potential problems. So, I tend to concentrate more on what I can do to affect positive change — I can make sure my clients are realistic and setting the listing price of their homes in a way that makes sense in their local market while still achieving their personal goals, and in the instance of buyers, I can work diligently to find them a home that is responsibly set within their budget while still allowing for future growth in their real estate portfolio.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

It seems that “stability” is the name of the game … rates will move, they will respond to the climate set on Wall Street, but will there be drastic changes in either direction? Probably not. It seems that the Fed is set to keep rates low going into 2015 while we concentrate on maintaining the strength our economy has gained up to this point. 2016 going into 2017? Now, that’s a different ball game.

Will home prices appreciate next year?

As long as we stay the course, homes will most likely see a gain in 2015 … some homeowners have seen gains already this year.

Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?

Agent productivity is such a subjective thing — agents who are producing now will continue to do well; agents who are learning and implementing strong strategies now will do well next year. Personally, I plan on being massively productive, and my goal is to triple my numbers from this year.

Will the portals play a bigger role next year?

It will be interesting to see how Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia will play out in February; the industry impact could be dulled as the company experiences growing pains, and it’s possible that newer strategies will be implemented later in the year leaving the largest changes to occur in 2016. However, the portals will always play a large role — potential buyers and sellers are interested in the ease of use of these products that seem to offer tons of information freely at your fingertips.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

This is still a word-of-mouth market; the biggest source of leads will always be current clients.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business next year?

Our company is growing at an amazing pace, and it’s quite a ride! It is my intention to grow with The Boutique and triple last year’s business.

What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?

Maintaining agent value is a main concern for me. It is easy for consumers to get caught up in the portals, to jump online and do some quick research and feel like they have good working knowledge of the local area. But it falls to our shoulders to show our clients that, actually, quick and easy is not the order of the day; websites like Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, etc., cannot give an all-encompassing value estimate. There is no algorithm for nuance; there is no way to measure the subjective nature of home selling or the emotion involved on the consumer level. It is up to us to ensure that clients are aware of our value by sharing our comprehensive market knowledge, anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations in every transaction — and by offering them the personal touch that these websites cannot give.