Top chef at Yard House restaurants selling Yorba Linda estate for $10 million

via The Orange County Register

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Carlito Jocson, the top chef for Yard House restaurants, is selling his modern, five-bedroom Yorba Linda house on one of Orange County’s highest peaks for $10 million.

Set on 3.1 acres, the estate includes a full-size outdoor kitchen with a bar and wood-fired pizza oven. Two glass-tiled fire pits flank a zero-edge swimming pool.

In addition to an expansive parking area for guests, there’s space to add a helipad, says listing agent Raj Qsar of The Boutique Real Estate Group.

Built in 2011, the 8,320-square-foot home designed by David Streshinsky of DKY Architects boasts double-height ceilings, a restaurant-caliber kitchen, 1,200-bottle wine room and home theater. The house also has a solar-power system.

Grounds include drought-friendly landscaping and a meditation garden with more than a dozen olive trees. A basketball court and disappearing entertainment system are among the outdoor amenities, and the Pacific Ocean can be viewed in the distance.

The house is by far the highest priced Yorba Linda home offered on the Multiple Listing Service right now. The next most expensive one is a seven-bedroom, 9,411-square-foot residence built in 1995, with a $5.18 million price tag.

Jocson is a Yard House vice president and its corporate executive chef. He’s also an original partner. He said his favorite room is – of course – the kitchen, relishing the layout and plating his creations on the large island

“I wanted to build the kitchen with a sense of community,” he said. “It’s the (home’s) heart. From a chef’s standpoint, I love to feed people … I want them to watch me.”

When a chef friend created a seven-course meal at the house, Jocson added, “He didn’t skip a beat. It felt like (cooking in) a restaurant.”

He also savors how the master suite’s sliding glass doors open to the zero-edge pool. “I wanted to wake up in the morning and jump in the pool straight from the bed,” he said.

With four grown children out of the house, Jocson said it’s time to downsize.

Jocson and his wife Elizabeth for the past decade have been feeding homeless and needy Orange County residents through The Storehouse ministry of North Orange Christian Church, where they are members.

Yard House restaurants are known for their contemporary atmosphere, rock music, eclectic food and more than 100 beers on tap. The chain, with 13 states, was sold to Darden Restaurants by private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners in 2012 for $585 million in an all-cash deal.

Christina Boladian of the Boutique group is co-listing the house. A video of Jocson and the home is here.

Stunning Pinnacle House Hits the Market — in Yorba Linda

via Fox News

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When you think of a $10 million home in Southern California, the first neighborhoods that probably come to mind are Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and perhaps the Hollywood Hills or Malibu.

The town of Yorba Linda, home of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, located in northern Orange County, probably didn’t even make your top 20 list of elite enclaves, did it? That’s why the Pinnacle House comes as such an intriguing surprise.

What could be so special about a house that isn’t on the beach and doesn’t have a prominent ZIP code? Plenty, you’ll realize, just as soon as you find out who built it. Carlito Jocson is the corporate executive chef and vice president of Yard House restaurants, a popular chain with locations throughout the U.S. and endless taps of beer.

If you’ve ever been to one, you know the chain is tremendously successful, so the veep would likely spare no expense in creating a dream house anywhere he wants. And that’s exactly what happened.

Jocson hired David Streshinsky of DKY Architects to design a modern dwelling with Hawaiian influences, mixing the elements of steel, clay, fire, and water. In fact, as some of the best California homes do.

The house comes with a feng shui appraisal from feng shui expert Jessie Kim, which states, “The Pinnacle House is a great example of incorporation of Feng Shui elements.The strongest Feng Shui elements of this home — water, fire and wood — will provide its occupants with Power, Fame and Great Reputation. … When balance is achieved with these elements, a feeling of harmony and uplifting energy will be felt by anyone walking through the home.”

For all the good karma built into the house, size still matters. The airy home has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms in 8,320 square feet of space. It is strategically situated on a 3.1-acre lot on one of the highest peaks in Orange County. “There’s ample room for a helipad,” remarks Raj Qsar, who is the estate’s listing agent along with his partner Christina Boladian.

But you actually don’t need a helicopter to get around, because the property is quite conveniently located. Set in the Hidden Hills neighborhood of Yorba Linda (not to be confused with the Hidden Hills area of Calabasas, which is cluttered with Kardashians and pop stars), the Pinnacle House is only 10 minutes from Angel Stadium, Disneyland, and the Honda Center. It’s about 40 minutes from Los Angeles and 25 minutes from the beach.

Of course the executive chef of a prominent restaurant chain is going to build extraordinary cooking and dining facilities in his home, and this one has several: a huge indoor show kitchen with professional-grade appliances, an adjacent 1,200-bottle wine room, a full-service outdoor kitchen with a wood-fire pizza oven and a wok range, and a 12-person dining room with spectacular sunset views of the hills.

Adding to the feng shui philosophy of the home, the water features like the zero-edge, floor-level pool and the waterfall in the entryway flow from the outdoors in.

“We were able to install these beautiful sliding doors that open right up and disappear, and allow the bedroom to be indoor-outdoor. The thought process was, I wanted to wake up in the morning and jump in [the] pool straight from the bed,” Jocson says with a laugh.

“This home is very serene and has the feeling like you’re getting away,” he continues. “You can think better, you can think clearer, it’s just a wonderful place.”

Qsar believes that a buyer who values that type of lifestyle will find the property priceless, and that $10 million is a steal.

What to look for in a Luxury home

via David Glenn

Nothing quite defines the American dream like homeownership, and that’s true for homes of all shapes and sizes. For those of you who want to really invest in your abode, the luxury market might be for you. Luxury homes are currently defined as homes with a multi-million dollar price tag. Though that qualification does not always need to be met if the home is possessed of certain features such as location, amenities, etc. Luxury homes are always homes that are unique and original, and they include amenities such as a Home Theater, private elevators and car lifts, cutting edge technology and more.

What is especially important in the luxury market is the ability to adjust the home to a particular homeowner’s individual needs. There’s a big difference between what’s considered luxury in Los Angeles and in Houston,
and the market responds to that. Many luxury homes are focused on security, with gated entrances, motion detectors, and secure buildings to make homeowners feel safe and secure, as well as grant peace of mind. Aside from practicalities, there are a few standard features that most luxury home buyers look for.

Firstly, location. As with any real estate purchase, location is perhaps the most important consideration. Most luxury homes abide in gated communities or closed buildings, in what are considered elite neighborhoods. Luxury apartment buildings are equipped with incredible views, a full time staff, and concierge service. Luxury homes are equipped with private locations, stunning vistas, and plenty of room to grow.

Depending on where the home is located, outside can be just as important as inside, with decks and pools playing a big part of a luxury lifestyle. Californians are more likely to be drawn to a house with a pool, while New York residents and other city dwellers are more interested in a room with a view.

Quality is also key. Luxury homeowners want quality in everything, from the floors to the walls. Many choose exotic or imported woods and tiles to finish with, and that alone can bump up a price tag. In the kitchen especially, custom cabinetry is a must, and homeowners want the install to be perfect.

Another amenity that appeals to most luxury buyers is a Home Theater. These rooms often come equipped with a large screen, custom lighting and sound, a mini-kitchen or refrigerator, and often a popcorn maker, to lend that movie atmosphere to your home.

Homeowners are also beginning to embrace an entire wet room instead of a simple shower or bathtub. Many of these rooms have multiple shower heads, as well as a place for seating and luxurious flooring. They are considered one of the most popular luxury features, for the relaxation value alone.

Open floor plans are also a must, just like in the suburban real estate market. However, luxury homes often have extremely high ceilings of twenty feet or more, along with the use of counters or cabinetry to separate the living and eating areas. The floor plans are fully customized as well.

Wine cellars are also becoming a more usable space, with room for entertaining and serving guests directly in the cellar itself. This use of smaller space is creative and whimsical, and allows hosts and their guests to be more focused on the current conversation then perhaps they would be in the rest of the home.

There’s also a focus on technology in the home, especially in the kitchen, where smart appliances are quickly gaining popularity. Many homes can be fully synced to a mobile device, like your ipad, that you can use to control everything.

So what’s most important in a luxury home? Real estate always focuses on location first, but after that, most of the requirements are left to homeowner’s individual taste. With the luxury market expanding as it is today, there are no shortages of opportunities to fully customize a home and make it yours. It’s said that “A man’s home is his palace”, and the luxury market provides the chance to make that statement very true indeed.

 

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Home of the Week: The Getaway Experience in Laguna Beach

via Los Angeles Times

Crowning a promontory overlooking Laguna Beach, this exotic estate runs the gamut in resort-style comforts. Contemporary interiors dressed in notes of Bali style appeal to a wide palette, with chef’s and catering kitchens, a glassed-in wine cellar and a professional recording studio. Explosive ocean views form the backdrop for a saline swimming pool and a swim-up bar, furthering what some might call a five-star experience.

The details

Location: 1000 Flamingo Road, Laguna Beach, 92651

Asking price: $19.888 million

Year built: 2013

House size: 10,200 square feet, five bedrooms, nine bathrooms

Lot size: 0.98 acres

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The 10,200-square-foot home in Laguna Beach features two kitchens, a professional recording studio and a wine cellar/tasting room. A resort-style swimming pool complete with a swim-up bar and 10-person spa highlights the grounds.

Features: Imported wood and stone finishes; Balinese-inspired details; chef’s and catering kitchens; open-plan living areas; master suite with walk-in closet; glass-enclosed wine cellar and tasting room; professional recording studio; saline swimming pool with swim-up bar and 10-person spa

Agents: Tracy Glass & Kelly Enciso via The Boutique Real Estate Group

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.

Empires of the Sun

via The Sunday Times

Tempted by a beach house in paradise? Take advantage of the strong pound and make that dream come true. We find 10 fabulous pads to suit all budgets

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Golden sand outside the front door has long been a fantasy for urbanites stuck in the daily grind. And it seems more of us than ever are keen to live the dream: driven by the strength of sterling, inquiries from British buyers about beach houses abroad have risen by 109% in the past year on Rightmove Overseas, according to Aimee Valaitis, a data analyst at the property portal.

There has also been a hike in inquiries about homes with private beaches, she says. But buyer beware: whatever the brochure claims, your “private” strand may be invaded by hordes of sunbathers — this summer, King Salman of Saudi Arabia sparked mass protests on the French Riviera when he tried to close the nudist beach in front of his holiday villa. “Unless you are on a private island, it’s rare to find a beach that really is for your use only,” says Edward de Mallet Morgan, an associate at Knight Frank estate agency. “In many places, particularly on the Mediterranean, the public has a right of access on the coast. Almost no beaches in the Caribbean are truly private.”

That said, some are more secluded than others. Here’s our pick of the best beach houses on the market right now.

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Barbados £8.8m

Pool or sea? It’s the biggest dilemma you’ll face at Villa Bonita, a new six-bedroom property in Prospect Bay, St James, on the Platinum Coast. It has more than 9,000 sq ft of living space, direct beach access from a staircase, lashings of white marble and an inner courtyard. The cream and grey interiors are offset by the almost shocking blue of the Caribbean — and for added peace of mind, the villa has an alarm system and security shutters.

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Mallorca from £253,275

Once a fishing village, Puerto Andratx is now a Balearic hotspot, known for bling, superyachts and A-list visitors. A short walk from the beach at Camp de Mar, on the edge of the golf course, there’s a collection of 30 townhouses built in Mediterranean style, with a shared pool and gardens. They are part of a gated community, so a two-or three-bedroom home here would make a good lock-up-and-leave.

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Crete £247,000

On the seafront in Kalyves, a buzzing — but still traditional – village near Apokoronas, this three-bedroom Venetian villa has high ceilings and original floor tiles. It’s in need of TLC, but the mountain backdrop is stunning and there’s plenty of room to put in a small pool and off-road parking. You’ll have instant access to the area’s miles and miles of sandy beaches, while Chania airport is just a short drive away.

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California £8.6m

Lined with luxury villas, Broad Beach, in Malibu, counts Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn and Pierce Brosnan among its A-list residents. The LaFetra Beach House, the last building designed by the modernist Pierre Koenig, sits on a clifftop at the northern end of the beach. The solar-powered glass, steel and concrete home has four bedrooms, huge oceanfront decks, a plunge pool and retractable beach stairs.

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Hawaii £12.8m

Make like Mark Zuckerberg and buy a piece of paradise in Hawaii. Hale Ali’i, on Maui, is a 7,475 sq ft home a few steps from the white sands of Oneloa Bay; it’s a short walk from Kapalua Bay, often voted one of America’s best beaches. Built according to feng shui principles, the four-bedroom villa has a soundproof theatre and a limestone lanai (open-sided porch) with an infinity pool and a hot tub. The price has been reduced by £2.55m.

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Thailand £28.8m

The owner of this 20-acre private island can use the facilities at the five-star Soneva Kiri resort, on Ko Kood, just across the water. It’s for sale on a 30-year lease (with three automatic 30-year extensions), with plans for a 3,000 sq metre house that will have large terraces and a waterslide into the pool. The flight from Bangkok to the local airport takes 60 minutes by private plane; the resort’s speedboat will whisk you over to your home.

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Cayman Islands from £1.9m

Designed to provide a cosy enclave for UHNWIs — that’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals to you and me — Casa Luna is a development of 18 open-plan homes in a secluded cove on Grand Cayman. It’s dotted with waterfalls and there’s a pond stocked with ornamental koi carp. For £1.9m, you’ll get three bedrooms and views to the shores of South Sound; a front-line villa will set you back £2.4m.

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Algarve £1.1m

This contemporary three-bedroom townhouse is in the Vale do Lobo golf resort, a 20-minute drive from Faro airport. It has sweeping beach views and nearly 1,800 sq ft of clean, bright and mainly white open-plan interiors, including a well designed kitchen, as well as terraces and a garden. There’s no pool, though, so you’ll need to cool down in the surf — or use the resort’s facilities.

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Turkey £234,000

Bodrum may be rammed with tourists, but Gumusluk Bay, at the tip of the Bodrum Peninsula, has plenty to recommend it: large-scale development is not permitted, so there’s a low-key, traditional feel, and its fresh fish restaurants and scattered antiquities make it an idyllic holiday retreat. This three-bedroom, two-bathroom villa has beach access and a private pool; the weekly food and crafts market is within walking distance.

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

via Inman

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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.

Innovative Marketing: Raj Qsar Sells a Story, Not Just a Home

Via Zillow

On January 1, 2013, Raj Qsar launched his great experiment: a brokerage that eschews more traditional real estate methods in favor of a new and creative marketing approach. The Boutique Real Estate Group began its journey on that first day of 2013 with three agents, a creative director, a social media manager and an office manager — and it’s taking southern California real estate to a new level. The experiment worked.

Raj Qsar is the principal and owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group and a 10-year veteran of real estate sales and marketing. Raj shared his vision of the Boutique with me, and it’s a compelling story of the birth and growth of a real estate brokerage that tends to do things a little bit differently. It’s a story of success that provides insight into a free-thinking yet savvy group of professionals who, in Raj’s own words, have formed “a technology company that is super-passionate about creative design. And oh, by the way, sells real estate as well.”

I wanted to tell a story

Ask the people who know Raj and The Boutique to describe what sets them apart, and you are likely to hear “video.”

That seemed a good place to start my discussion with Raj, so I simply asked, “why video?”

Instead of the expected responses — “Video is the future!” or “Real estate is visual, it lends itself to video” — what I heard was, “I wanted to tell the homeowner’s story. A story not just about the home, but about the neighborhood and why they loved living there.”

Raj found a wedding videographer who took a narrative approach to his work: Instead of taking the standard pictures of bride, groom and wedding party, the videographer was telling the story of the couple. Believing that this style could translate to real estate, Raj contacted him and said, “I want you to tell a story. A story about a house.”

“What do you mean, a story about a house?”

This was in 2009, before video was a buzzword, before video was cool. Real estate “video” at that time typically consisted of a fancy slideshow: still images pieced together using zoom effects, with pleasant music playing in the background.

“That’s not video, that’s pictures stitched together to appear video-like. It’s fake video,” Raj told me.

Raj was at a listing presentation for an expired property. It had languished on the market for nine months with only five showings and no offers. Raj pitched the idea of a “real life” video to the sellers, one that would focus on why the sellers had lived in and loved this home for so many years. It would highlight not only the home, but also weave the community and local businesses into its story line. They loved the idea.

Raj walked away with the listing and a promise to create a new kind of video.

There was one problem: he had no idea how to do that. Passionate about creative design, Raj knew where to find the right people to pull this off. They storyboarded some ideas, professionally staged the home, took amazing photos, shot true video footage of the home and neighborhood, created an online marketing campaign, translated that campaign into multiple languages and set off to sell the property.

That was just the beginning.

“We are so OCD about every fine detail that we re-shot and re-edited the video several times, even going through multiple soundtracks and music choices before we went live.”

With the video complete, Raj delivered it to his sellers and asked them to share it with friends, family and neighbors. The home was in a small, tight-knit, gated neighborhood, and the owners shared the video with their Bunko group — which included about 70 of the neighborhood’s 100 homeowners.

Raj is proud of the fact that they took that listing and got an over-list price offer in two weeks.

But he’s prouder of the fact that the video was so well received that over the next three years, they listed 13 homes in that subdivision, setting price records almost every time.

The owners loved the video. They shared it with other homeowners who loved it. It was high quality, it was memorable, and it made the phone ring when people were looking to sell.

In case you think this reception of a property video was just dumb luck, there are other similar stories. A condo association played a video produced by Jeremy Lehman, The Boutique’s CTO, at their board meeting because it highlighted the neighborhood so well. A couple of the board members were considering selling their homes. Who do you think they called? The Boutique group has now listed 15 of those condos.

The video brokerage

Raj considers video a catapult to get in front of sellers. While a video may not sell a home directly, the quality and effort Raj’s brokerage puts into video sets them apart from the masses. It identifies them. They are now locally (and I would argue, nationally) thought of as “the video brokerage.”

As time marched on, Raj took video production in-house. He bought the equipment and brought in experts, lowering the production cost and allowing them to shoot videos on about half of their listings. If there is a story to tell, they will tell it in multiple formats, across multiple platforms, including video.

But Raj stresses that it’s not just video. When The Boutique takes a listing it usually spends about three weeks getting it ready before submitting it to the MLS.

At this point in the conversation, I stopped Raj and said, “Three weeks? Who takes three weeks to get a home in the MLS?”

“We do,” said Raj. They storyboard the property and neighborhood, professionally stage the home, hire select professional photographers, process and edit those photos, shoot and edit video, create a 90-day content calendar that maps out how the listing will be promoted on various social and listing syndication sites and discuss how will they share the home’s story. Then, and only then, is the property ready for the MLS and their marketing push.

The first hire

Ask most fledgling brokers or team leaders about their first hire and they will probably say they brought in a transaction coordinator, buyer’s agent or office manager. In fact, every person I’ve talked to who built their own team or brokerage started by hiring one of those people.

Until I talked to Raj, that is: His first hire was a creative director.

Their graphic designer on staff — on staff, not contracted out — is degreed. “It’s not like we are using the broker’s assistant’s cousin who just graduated from junior college to do our design work,” said Raj.

That attitude defines Raj and The Boutique. He wants the best, and only the best, for his brokerage, his agents and his clients.

This tenet is reflected in part by their technology standards: The Boutique is Apple-based, and all agents must be on Apple products. No agents design their own marketing material; it all goes through the in-house creative designer, and everything goes through the videographer. They have three preferred listing photographers, and those are the only three that agents can use. Before even going into the home, however, it is staged by their in-house stager. Why so much quality control? Raj said, “We make our agents do these things because we know they work, and they give our clients and agents the best chance of success.”

On lead generation

Pretty pictures are nice, but ultimately you need leads. I asked Raj about his strategies for lead generation and listing syndication.

Raj said they are on all of the major platforms: Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com. “By far and away we’ve seen the most benefit from Zillow. The quality of leads and amount of leads that come in from Zillow is superior to the rest. Our rep makes a big difference too. He’s a partner with us.”

One of the first things The Boutique does when they get a new agent is have them sign up for the “pro” level on all the major search sites. This ensures agent buy-in and facilitates lead management and consistency.

“Speed of response to Internet leads is critical,” Raj informs us. “We used to route leads to agents on a round-robin basis. As we got more sophisticated, and realized that if you don’t reply to a lead in two minutes that you’ve lost it, we brought in an in-house lead incubator whose job is to qualify and curate contacts.” The Boutique generated 3,600 inbound leads in 2014 though portal advertising and in-house lead generation efforts. Staffing a lead incubator position has freed up Raj’s agents and shifted them from receiving brokerage leads to receiving appointments.

There is no Plan B

Talk to Raj for two minutes about real estate and you will see that he is a very passionate man with a strong focus on creative design. This comes through not only in his listings, but in his philosophy on running a brokerage.

“It’s all about the consumer and their experience. We are hired to sell a property, but a property isn’t just bricks and mortar and walls. Every home has a story and if we tell that story well, we can create an emotional response — and when a buyer is emotionally involved in the story, they are more likely to purchase.”

How does that vision scale? Can it scale? What are Raj’s future plans for The Boutique Real Estate Group?

“I’d like to open another five offices in southern California in the next five years,” Raj told me.

“What about expanding outside of SoCal?” I asked.

“I get those calls about once a month. Some big-box brokerage or franchise will approach me about expanding. We love what we do. We hustle, we sell a home and we reinvest than back into the business. We add to our knowledge and technology. I have no Plan B. This is what we love, this is what we do.”

Video marketing in action

The Boutique Real Estate Group is known as “the video brokerage,” so we’d be remiss if we didn’t include some sample videos.

“It’s not all about the price point,” Raj tells us. “Yes, we are focusing on the luxury market by providing luxury services to our agents and clients. These services are what truly set us apart. We respect where our industry has been but we are pushing the envelope and going in a whole new direction — and we are just getting started.”

Visit The Boutique’s YouTube Channel to see how they market their listings — and their brokerage.

Here is a recent listing video that exemplifies The Boutique’s philosophy of storytelling.

 

And here is a video for a magnificent luxury estate in Hawaii. The Boutique Real Estate Group was brought on as a co-lister for this property due to their skill and expertise in social media, video and creative design.

10 Sophisticated Dining Room Designs

via Leverage Global Partners

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Nothing beats enjoying a lavish meal at home, with ample space and elegant ambience to wine and dine with your friends and family. Complete with sophisticated design, exquisite details, and unique furnishings, these eye-catching dining rooms from some of our Leverage Partners will make you feel like you’re dining in a five star restaurant from the comfort of your own home.

Extraordinary Estate
Represented by Tyler Redhead & McAlister Real Estate  |  $3,500,000

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Ideally situated in the rolling foothills of North Carolina, this expansive North Carolina estate features a gorgeous, spacious dining area.

Private & Serene Home
Represented by Turnquist Partners Realtors  |  $4,695,000

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Enjoy a panoramic view of downtown Austin & the Texas hill country from the dining room of this private & serene home.

An Iconic, World-Class Destination
Represented by The Boutique Real Estate Group |  $26,000,000

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Tastefully decorated and furnished, this estate dining room on Maui’s coast offers ocean views and warm fragrant breezes.

Magnificent Home in Stone Cliff
Represented by Red Rock Real Estate  |  $3,999,950

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An exquisite masterpiece in St. George, Utah, this magnificent home offers a handsome dining room created with unsurpassed craftsmanship.

City Tower Azabu-Juban
Represented by Housing Japan  |  ¥400,000,000

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Experience impressive views of Tokyo from the dining room of this ultra modern penthouse with glass curtain walls.

Exquisitely Designed Condo
Represented by Forest Hill Real Estate Inc.  |  $6,995,000

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Nestled in the most elegant and exclusive building in Toronto, this condo dining room is timeless and flawless.

Grand Vacation Home
Represented by Nectar Real Estate  |  $1,400,000

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Designed with the vacation guest experience in mind, this grand home in Celebration, Florida includes dining seating for 16 people.

Unparalleled French Country Estate
Represented by J. Rockcliff Realtors  |  $42,000,000

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This custom French Country estate is unrivaled in the Bay Area, with a substantial dining room decorated with elegant finishes.

Hollywood Hills Contemporary
Represented by Partners Trust  |  $10,000,000

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Elevated high above the City of Angels, the dining area of this grand estate is worthy of the most discerning of tastes.

Dallas Penthouse
Represented by Allie Beth Allman & Associates  |  $10,950,000

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Floor to ceiling windows and a view from the 30th story give this Dallas penthouse striking yet unpretentious ambience.

Do you dream of feasting in your own luxurious dining room? Which sophisticated dining room style is your favorite? Share your ideas and leave your comments below.

July Events at Pavilion Park | The Boutique Real Estate Group

COOKING DEMO | Ode to the BurgerUnleash your inner chef. The theme of this month’s cooking class will be Ode to the Burger. Perfect for cooks of all levels. July 5 10:30am-12:00pm
YOGA IN THE PARK | Self NavigationYoga and meditation that will focus on self navigation. Perfect for beginner and intermediate yogis. July 12 9:00-10:15am
FRIDAY NIGHT HAPPENINGS | Honky Tonk NightCountry music is about storytelling. Join us for a night of music in the great southern tradition, by the Freightshakers. Plus a convoy of food trucks, including GD Bro Burger, Bear Flag Fish Co., the Viking Truck, and Drive Me Cookie. And pottery demonstrations. July 18 6:00-9:00pm
YOGA IN THE PARK | Strength and SoftnessYoga and meditation that will focus on strength and softness. Perfect for beginner and intermediate yogis. July 19 9:00-10:15am
GARDEN WORKSHOP | Surviving the Summer HeatThe heat of summer can take a toll on gardens and gardeners. Discussion to include irrigation techniques, how to operate irrigation timers, water conservation, runoff friendly hardscape, and the benefits of mulching. July 19 10:30-11:30am
YOGA IN THE PARK | Creating SpaceYoga and meditation that will focus on creating space. Perfect for beginner and intermediate yogis. July 26 9:00-10:15am
Please register in advance for Cooking Demos, Garden Workshops and Yoga Classes.
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