Instagram Tips for 2018

Written by Raj Qsar

I have been spending a ton of time on Instagram, watching videos, tutorials and just “stage 5 stalking” some super creative accounts! Insta is NOT going away and I really feel like we need to master this ever-changing platform to be successful in 2018 and beyond.

Here are a few Insta Tips to keep in mind for 2018:

1. #Hashtags 📲 They are not going away. Posts with more than 11 hashtags do better than posts with less than 11. Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post. We think posting the hashtags in the first comment is the best & most aesthetic place to put them and not in the post description.

2. Post daily to your feed and use 10-20 stories/day. This should keep you in the newsfeed and the story feed all day long.

3. You can now follow hashtags! How cool is that? Ours is #tbreg

👉This can give you some major insight into who is using the same hashtags as you but can also gain more of a hyperlocal following or even search for hashtags in another language. 🇨🇳🇪🇸🇷🇺

4. Geotagging & tagging major/viral accounts also is a huge way to drive traffic to your account and collaborate with other grammers.

5. One of my favorites is the DM feature on Instagram. You can share your latest post with other Influential Instagram accounts and ask them to like, comment and share or repost with their followers.

6. Please please please make sure your profile is completely filled out!

7. A few cool apps to help you manage your page include VSCO (great filtering app), PLANN (great for watching analytics and keep up with hashtags & best times to post) and Photoshop Fix (for sizing and filtering your photos).

8. Stories, stories, stories…Instagram has added GIF’s, new fonts, filters, backgrounds and the ability to resize your photos. Its a ton of fun and a great way to learn & master the app and stay engaged.

9. Words matter. Be creative. Have a theme. And be consistent with Insta. Its a much more intimate platform and deserves your attention. Long caption? Short caption? Whatever you decide let it be you!

10. Who is stalking your account? Shoot me an email and I will show you who!! 😜





Connect with Raj here:

7 Web Design Tricks for Realtors to Get More Leads in 2018

by  | Feb 6, 2018

If you’ve had your website up and running for more than a few months, you’ve probably noticed something curious. You’re getting some traffic, but almost none of that traffic converts into actual leads…

What gives?

Well, to some extent this is the nature of online marketing; only a small fraction of the people who visit your site will convert. C’est la vie right?

Wrong. In 2018 there is an entire industry dedicated to using design and functionality to increase the number of conversions on your site. It’s called Conversion Rate Optimization. Or CRO for short. CRO uses data and analytics to determine design, copy, and layout changes.

Today we’re going to look at 7 clever ways to apply CRO oriented design to your personal website, landing pages, or single property sites.

1. Leverage Hick’s Law to Encourage Your Visitors to Engage

Named for British Psychologist William Edmund Hick, this law states that the more choices a consumer has, the longer it will take them to make a decision.

In a study on decision making in supermarkets, Hick set up two sample displays of jam. One had 24 flavors, and the other had only six flavors of jam.

The results showed that 60% of people stopped and sampled jam from the table with 24 flavors. However, only 6% ended up purchasing a jar of jam.

Meanwhile, only 40% of people stopped to sample jam from the table with six flavors, but an astonishing 30% ended up purchasing jam.

Applying Hick’s Law to Your Site Design

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via Hotjar

The takeaway here should be obvious. By narrowing the number of choices your visitors have, you can dramatically increase your conversion rate.

In order to do this effectively, you need to take the time to figure out exactly what it is you want your visitors to do on each page of your site. For a landing page this might be obvious. You want them to fill out a form and give you their contact info.

For other pages on your site, the answer might not be so obvious. For example, what is the main thing you want visitors to do on your homepage? Do you want them to read the latest from your blog? Check out your brand new listings? Schedule a listing appointment?

In order to get you thinking about this, it makes sense to check out the sites of some top producing Realtors for inspiration. To get you started, here is the main page for Los Angeles luxury brokers Williams & Williams:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks
Okay, I know. This is an extreme example from a team that has dozens of jaw dropping eight figure listings in Beverly Hills… Of course they’re going to encourage people to look at their listings first!

Let’s look at a site on the opposite end of the spectrum that still uses Hick’s Law. Check out the homepage for Placester’s free NAR websites:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks
The main choices here seem to be home search, and testimonials. Since these sites are all about generating buyer leads, this makes perfect sense.

For landing pages or home value sites, Hick’s Law is even clearer. In most cases you don’t even have the option to do anything besides enter your address and contact info.

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks
To learn more about applying Hick’s Law to your website design, check out Usabilla’s excellent write up here.

2. Use Heatmaps to Find Out What Your Visitors Really Want

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks
One of the trickiest things to do when designing your website or landing page is figuring out where your visitors are looking for information. Even if your layout and navigation seems obvious to you, it may not be obvious to all your visitors.

Luckily, there is a clever solution to this problem. Using heatmap software, you can track exactly where your site visitors are clicking and navigating. Here’s how it works:

Sign up for a service like Crazy Egg or Hotjar and add pages from your site that you want to track. After a month or so, the software will create a heatmap showing an average of where all users navigated and clicked.

How Heatmap Software works: Heatmaps

Areas where users click or navigate to often are represented in red, while areas they click or navigate less are in yellow, green, and finally blue.

Using this data, you can tweak your layout, copy, and site colors to both improve efficient navigation, and subtly encourage your visitors to take a specific action. Depending on what you’ve decided that action is, this can mean signing up for an email list, entering their address, or browsing properties.

Here are a few common mistakes that heatmap software might uncover, and how you can fix them:

Your visitors are clicking on images or text that are not linked to anything

Consider moving your navigation, or CTA to the area they are clicking, or link the images or text in that area to a landing page or other relevant page on your site.

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks
Image via Hotjar

Visitors are navigating and clicking on too many areas of your page and ignoring what you want them to focus on

Keep Hick’s Law in mind and simplify your page’s layout to encourage them to click where you want them to

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks
Image via Hotjar

How Heatmap Software Works: Scroll Depth

Another useful metric that heatmap software can measure for you is scroll depth. This is the average “depth” a visitor scrolls down your page.

The same color codes used with heatmaps are used for scroll depth. Red areas are where the majority of users scroll down to. Going from red to orange, to yellow, and finally to blue where almost no visitor scrolls to.

Here’s what a scroll depth chart looks like using Hotjar:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

As you can see, the percentage of site visitors who scroll down past “the fold” (the area of your website that is visible without scrolling) goes down dramatically toward the bottom of your site.

Scroll depth heatmaps can be a sobering wake up call for just how much of your website is never seen by your visitors. For example, on many pages, less than 10%(!!) of site visitors scroll down to the bottom of the page.

How to Use Scroll Depth data to Increase Conversions

The most common use for scroll depth data is for your blog posts. For example, if you have a post that’s more than say, 1,000 words, and less than 10% of your audience is getting to the end of the article, you need to make tweaks to get more people to finish the article.

Since longer articles do far better in search results than shorter articles, cutting down the length of your blog posts is not an ideal solution. Instead, break up the content of the article with images, graphs, and subheadings so people can skim the article.

People are busy and attention spans short. Letting your visitors skim an article and only read the subheading relevant to them will increase conversions.

3. Learn the “F” Pattern: Take Advantage of How People Scan Web Pages

According to eye tracking research by Nielsen Norman Group, people scan web pages and phone screens in an ‘F” pattern; they start at the top left then scan right, then down, then to the right again, then to the bottom of the article.

It ends up looking something like this on a heatmap:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via Instapage

While the “F” pattern is not the only way people scan article or webpages, it is the most common.

Here’s what a real estate homepage that utilizes the “F” pattern in its layout:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks


Here’s another:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks


…and another:

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via:

Here’s how you can take advantage of the “F” pattern on a blog post. Note where they’re placing the “Watch Live” button.

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Screenshot via:

4. Make Sure Buttons and Text Boxes Are Easy to Use on Mobile

Is your website mobile friendly? If it’s not, there is a 100% chance you’re losing potential leads. According NAR’s 2017 Real Estate in a Digital Age Report 72% of home buyers used a mobile or tablet website or app in their home search. That’s a lot of lost leads…

Besides making sure the WordPress theme you’re using is responsive (aka works well on desktop and mobile) you need to pay special attention to buttons and text boxes.

In 2017, that means making your text boxes and buttons large enough even for people who are all thumbs to press. If you don’t, your leads may spend a few seconds trying in vain to get in touch with you then just give up.

Here are some of the buttons and text boxes you should pay special attention to on mobile:

  • Call now buttons
  • “Submit” buttons
  • Personal information text boxes
  • Page navigation buttons
  • Drop down menus for property searches

5. Pay Special Attention to the Color, Shape, & Copy on Your CTA Buttons

Believe it or not, even the buttons you use on your CTA’s can have a huge impact on your conversion rate. Subtle changes in color, shape, and copy on your buttons can mean more leads and more closed deals.

The only problem is that the digital marketing community just can’t seem to agree on what changes exactly lead to increased conversions. That said, there are still a few rules that most marketing and CRO experts can agree on:

  1. Orange, green, and blue buttons seem to convert the highest
  2. Buttons whose color contrasts well with the background color convert well
  3. They are actual buttons, not just text links!
  4. They use specific action words in their copy- “Get My Home Value” or “Download My Free PDF” will work better than “submit” or the dreaded “click here”
  5. They’re in a strategic place on the page- Think headline, short copy, text box, button. Also keep the “F” pattern in mind, as well as data from your heatmaps.

Here are some CTA button examples from Unbounce and Instapage that follow these principles well.

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via: Instapage
7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via: Instapage
7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via: Unbounce
7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Image via: Unbounce

6. Use A/B Testing to Find the Perfect Layout, Copy, & CTA for Conversion

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

Okay, now that you’ve got some new CRO inspired design ideas for your website, the next step is to test them on you site. After all, there is no secret formula for conversion. Some changes or combinations of changes may work better or worse depending on a huge number of variables.

In order to find out which changes lead to better conversion rates, you need to use what the industry calls A/B testing (also known as Split Testing). Here’s how it works.

Whenever you make an edit to your layout, buttons, CTA’s or any copy, record your conversion rate and compare it to your previous conversion rate. In order to get a more accurate measurement, it helps to switch back and forth between changes more than once.

Once You’ve identified a change that leads to a higher conversion rate, then keep it and make another small change to the site and runt the same A/B testing. After a few iterations of this, your site should be fully optimized for conversion.

A/B Testing Landing Pages

If you’re trying to optimize your landing pages, then A/B testing is pretty easy. Most landing page software (Unbounce, Instapage etc) have built in A/B testing functionality.

The best thing about A/B testing with landing page software is that they serve up different versions of your landing page to different users. This is important to rule out factors like the day of the week or season that might affect conversion rates.

A/B Testing Other Pages on Your Website

If you’re not using landing page software like Unbounce, A/B testing your website is a little trickier. If you’re using WordPress, you can simply run one version of your page, record your conversion rate, then run the second version and compare the two.

Crazy Egg also offers an A/B testing platform, but you’ll have to shell out for their software to use it. With plans starting at $29 per month, it probably won’t break the bank, but manual A/B testing using WordPress edits is free. You just have to be careful about the time periods you test.

7. Use Live Chat Buttons for Visitors Who Want Instant Answers

7 Clever CRO Web Design Tricks

There’s a funny paradox when it comes to lead generation. Some leads want to talk to you right away, but they don’t want to call you, and they don’t want to email… Short of sending a smoke signal, what else is there?

Enter the live chat button. Live chat buttons are small buttons that sit in the corner of your website and beckon your visitors to have their questions answered instantly. Of course some visitors will just waste your time, but some won’t…

While there are a lot of options on the market, the best live chat software will ping your phone and allow you to respond to live chat via text message. This way you can answer questions and ideally get them to call you while you’re on the go.

Real Estate Live Chat Options for 2018

Luckily, if you’re considering adding live chat to your website there are a ton of options on the market. ZendeskLiveChatPure Chat, and Ready Chat are all solid options.

AI Chat Bots

Amazingly, some companies even offer programmable AI chat bots to interact with your site visitors and answer basic questions. Personally, I would avoid these solutions for now, as many of your visitors will be offended that you pawned them off on a robot…

The Bottom Line

If there’s one thing you do to your website in 2018, using CRO strategies to optimize for better lead conversion should be it. Pay attention to Hick’s Law, use heatmap software to track visitors, make sure buttons are easy to use on mobile, design them well, use live chat, and remember to A/B test your changes.

Tech Connect NY 18: Live Problem Solving with Raj Qsar & Laurie Davis

Watch the pros work through tech roadblocks for the Inman audience
By INMAN / Feb 22

One of the many beneficial sessions at Inman Connect New York is “Tech live problem-solving” at Tech Connect, where the pros discuss audience issues and answer tech queries live onstage.

Listen in as Laurie Davis (broker/owner, BHGRE Lifestyle Property Partners) and Raj Qsar (principal/owner, The Boutique Real Estate Group) answer questions like:

  • I’m becoming overwhelmed with social media. Do I hire a social media manager? And, assuming it’s a $30,000 role, how do I keep track of it?
  • What systems are best to use when managing a team?
  • I’ve never created a listing video … where do I start?

Listen in to hear the answers to these and more.

Watch more sessions from ICNY 18 here.

Top 5 ICNY 2018 Takeaways

via Raj Qsar / The Boutique Real Estate Group

As I landed back into LAX after yet another ICNY I am again humbled and optimistic about the future of our industry. There is just something about being around so many amazing people from all over the world. I am thankful for the opportunity not only to attend but to present on multiple subjects on the main stage. From technology problem solving, to video marketing to lead generation & conversion.
Some of the most amazing conversations happen in hallways, after parties and intimate dinner convos at amazing restaurants. This is where you get time (precious time) with people who are shaping our industry. Their thoughts, ideas, and stories simply encourage me to push forward. People who have paved the way for the next generation and people who are simply up and coming and blazing their own trail.
Every year I try and take a few things with me. Things that will not only change my mindset and pull me out of my box but also instruments I can put into motion within my workspace. With that in mind, here are my top 5 takeaways from ICNY 2018.
1. One of my favorite quotes came from Rayni Williams and she said, “you have to be obsessed with this business or else you will be just average.”  Let that sink in a bit. It really made me think of what we are doing day to day, minute to minute. Is it obsessed? From every phone call, text, email, handshake, signed contract, design, marketing, technology…. Are we obsessed with excellence?
2.  Indy Connect is such a highlight now at ICNY. Many of these “indy’s” are not so small anymore. WE are not “mom & pop” shops working out of our neighbors’ garage! We are pushing our industry and making decisions that impact everyone. We are agile, nimble, aggressive and able to compete at the highest level on a global scale. I love what Vanessa Jones Bergmark said on Day 1 at Indy Connect, “Ignore the big boys. The revolutionary war was won by a group of scrappy independents.” OMG! #TRUTH We are quality over quantity. Depth over width.
3. This years keynote was Simon Sinek who was interviewed by Andrew Flachner with RealScout. What resonated with me was when Simon was chatting about working hard & being fulfilled, “Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”
4. There was a nice focus this year on coaching and being coachable. I think so many agents are just scared of the word “coach.” Maybe they do not want to open up? Maybe they do not want to dive deep into their business? But having a coach is now the norm in our industry as they are able to give and provide something just a bit different than your office manager, broker or owner. One particular session was led by Alyssa Hellman from Compass South Consulting. She said, “coaches are not a crutch, they are an asset to help you reach peak performance but you have to be coachable. You need to decide if you are committed.” 
5. And rounding out my personal Top 5 for ICNY 2018 is the #womanup initiative driven by C.A.R. leader Sara Sutachan. In 2017, C.A.R. launched its Women’s Initiative. Even though the real estate industry is predominantly female, women are underrepresented in leadership positions at both the brokerage and senior management levels. The goal of C.A.R.’s Women’s Initiative is to create a community where mentors and leaders can communicate, collaborate, advocate for, and support one another. Download the white paper here. Register for the 2nd Annual Woman Up Conference Here.


 Since You Made It This Far it is only fair to throw a few bonus tips out!

6. Sharran Srivatsaa Top 10 Tips for Success from the nations highest performing sales teams: “Success Leaves Clues”
7. Hey Carpool Fans! Enough said. Watch here!
8. Book Review via The Notorious ROB: Disrupters, Discounters & Doubters
Connect with Raj Qsar:

Top 8 for ICNY 2018

1. Make a hit list of the people you want to meet “in real life.” Connect is an amazing time to solidify some of those online relationships and connect with people who you admire and respect and make that true emotional connection. Some of the connections I have made at Connect have become lifelong friends of mine. They are the ones I call when I need advice and encouragement. Remember this quote from GaryV“People are not addicted to social media. People are addicted to people.”  Some of my favorite folks include 👉 Vanessa Jones Bergmark, Sara Sutachan, Seth Price, Andrew Flachner, Alyssa Hellman, Lynn Johnson, Rob Hahn, Laura BradyChris Smith, Jimmy Mackin, Matthew Shadbolt, Leigh Brown, Bill Lublin, Celeste Starchild, Katie Lance, Debra Trappen, Valerie Garcia, Joe Schutt, Jay Thompson, Heather Elias, Laura Monroe, Audie Chamberlain and so many others….

2.  Attend as many sessions as you can possibly attend! DO NOT MISS ANYTHING. Specifically look for the sessions that pull you out of your comfort zone and will challenge you on a personal & professional level. See the full schedule here and meet the speakers here. This year…OMG 😳… Simon Sinek will be the Keynote and will be kicking off the festivities on the main stage at 8:55 am on Wednesday, January 24th. One of my favorite quotes from Simon Sinek that is totally in line with ICNY is, “Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.” Bonus: Please please please do not miss CAR’s #womanup on main stage on Wednesday at 11:45am moderated by Sara Sutachan.

3. Have you joined the Inman Coast to Coast Facebook Group? If not join here for all the latest posts, connections and updates.

4.  The Party after the Party! Do I need to say anymore? We all know the real fun starts after 10 pm! So just ask around, jump in an Uber (download app here) or Lyft (download app here) and find out where the action is. Check your email for last minute invites to all the happening VIP parties and events. If you still can not find the party make sure to DM Chalmers or Carp (they will steer you in the right direction, I promise). If you are looking for the 🎤 top-secret karaoke party then there is only one name you should know 👉 Notorious.

5. Lobbycon! You have heard all the rumors and it is true! You will find everyone in The Broadway Lounge & Bar on the 8th floor of the Marriott and this is the spot where you will meet the CEO’s, Founders, Presidents, movers & shakers all just “hanging out.” Bring your selfie stick & business cards and make sure to say hi. BTW, when is the next time you will be in the same hotel as Brad Inman, Sherry Chris, Sharran Shrivatsaa, Joel Singer, Leslie Appleton Young & Elizabeth Mendenhall.

6.  Get out into the city! New York is an amazingly gorgeous city with sights, sounds, history and killer food! And since our team at The Boutique Real Estate Group are total foodies check out this list of 100 Best Restaurants in New York City via Zagat. Or if you love to fly and want to get up in the air check out FlyNYON for a helicopter tour of the city. Hamilton! Enough said!

7. Stay fit! You will be eating, drinking & sitting in a lot of sessions. Make sure to stay fit at one of these locations: Peleton NYC, Soul Cycle, SOLACE Cross Fit, Core Power Yoga and Orange Theory are all amazing ways to keep the burn going while at ICNY.

8. Ambassadors. These are the ones who will lead us through ICNY. Joe Schutt & Laure Weston Davis have been “in charge” of this program for years now and if you have a question about anything ICNY these are the folks to ask. Have you met them? If not connect with them here.

If you made it this far and are headed to ICNY please find me in one of the sessions, lobbycon or at one of the after parties. I am currently slotted to speak at three sessions at ICNY this year so it would be amazing to connect with you!





No End in Sight for Toll Brothers’ Luxe Push in OC

Toll Brothers Inc. is adding another high-end housing development to its Orange County portfolio.

Its latest addition, a 47-lot site in Yorba Linda, will likely be one of its highest-priced local communities, which is saying something for the Horsham, Pa.-based builder, whose local developments’ homes top $2 million.

The builder, whose market value is about $8 billion, recently reached a deal to buy the Stonecliff Estates development site in Yorba Linda, roughly 30 acres on the northwest corner of Lakeview Avenue and Bastanchury Road. It’s a little more than a mile northeast of the Richard Nixon Museum and Library.

The site was listed for sale a few months ago by Sal Provenza and Curt Crandall at the Irvine office of land brokerage WD Land.

It traded hands for about $44 million, a little under $1.5 million per acre, or nearly $940,000 per lot, among the highest per-lot prices for an OC housing development site not along the coast.

The land was technically bought by an undisclosed land banking firm that will sell the lots to Toll Brothers in phases, according to Provenza.

Stonecliff Estates has been in the works for nearly a decade and was sold by an entity listed in marketing documents as Bastanchury Holding Co. LP.

The sellers are affiliated with Kuwait Finance House, a large Islamic banking firm that was one of the initial equity investors in the development, according to Provenza. The property is believed to be its only OC land investment; it also has some commercial property holdings in the Los Angeles area, he said.

Toll Brothers, which bills itself as the country’s largest luxury homes builder, is no stranger to Yorba Linda (or OC, where it’s now selling at 16 different projects), and has built a few developments in the city over the past three years.

Its latest, the 119-unit Enclave project, is about a half-mile from the recently bought property. It opened last year with prices near $2 million, and was about half sold as of a few months ago, according to brokerage data.

Stonecliff Estates will likely have a higher price point, thanks to some of the largest lot sizes—about a half-acre, or a little more than 20,000 square feet—for a recent OC housing development.

Most of Toll Brothers’ other area luxe homes in Irvine and other parts of OC have lots in the 6,000- to 12,000-square-foot range. Its Alta Vista development in Irvine’s Orchard Hills community, for example, with some homes priced at nearly $3 million, has lots of about 11,000 square feet, according to WD Land.

Homes at Stonecliff Estates were envisioned to be a little more than 4,000 square feet to nearly 6,000 square feet on the half-acre lots under the prior ownership group’s proposed designs, which Toll will likely tweak.

A community opening should be in about nine months, according to WD Land’s Provenza, who previously worked on land acquisitions for Toll Brothers.

Record Year, Rents

Apartment construction in OC is projected to reach an all-time record this year, according to a new multifamily research report by the local office of Marcus & Millichap.

Nearly 7,500 units will be completed at large apartment projects across the county, a record level and one that will increase OC’s base of rentals by 3%, the report said.

The heavy development is having a slight impact on vacancy rates, which have ticked up to 4%. But that hasn’t slowed rental appreciation, which has also risen 4%. Average monthly rents now stand at $1,972.

Construction should keep pushing on into next year. There were nine apartment projects with more than 300 units under way in Anaheim and Irvine combined at the start of the fourth quarter, and two projects, each larger than 500 units, were going up in Huntington Beach, the report said.

10 Last-Minute Ideas for New Year’s Eve in Orange County

You forgot to make plans for the big night? We’ve got you covered with our best ideas for a variety of fun things to do on New Year’s Eve in Orange County.


Winter Fest OC will have two celebrations on New Year’s Eve for children young and old. A 3,000-balloon drop and fireworks are slated for 6 p.m. and midnight. These activities are included in your general admission to Winter Fest, which opens at noon on New Year’s Eve and also features an ice slide, inflatables, a Festival of Lights, rock climbing, carnival rides, and an ice skating rink. Ticket prices start at $12 for children online in advance and $17 for adults. Best value is the online value pack for $65 for four people, which includes a fast pass for the ice slide.

For an over-21 extravaganza, check out Resolution NYE. There will be two stages over two nights (Dec. 30 and 31) featuring acts such as Young The Giant, Dirty Heads, Seven Lions, Illenium, Slander, and more. The festivities start Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 31 the party goes from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach buildings at the OC Fair and Event Center. Admission is $50, VIP tickets start at $100.

Get out on the sand at Bolsa Chica State Beach on Dec. 31 and join DJ Dig Dug and DJ Ravi Drums in a heated tent. The event also features live music, dancing, a photo booth, a full premium bar, and midnight balloon drop. DJ Ravi Drums adds live percussion and unparalleled technology as he plays at 180-degree angles on a custom drum set. Tickets are available for the New Year’s Eve event for $75 in advance and $100 at the door.

Water Grill

Join the folks at Water Grill in Costa Mesa for an interactive photo booth and live music from the Michael Physick Trio. There’s a special surf and turf entrée on the menu for this evening and the featured dessert is dark chocolate mousse. Festivities begin at 9 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended.

Ways & Means Oyster House

Ring in the new year with Aloha spirit at Ways & Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach. The New Year’s Eve Hawaiian Bash starts at 6 p.m. and features a costume contest, music and dancing, giveaways, and bottomless well drinks for $55 starting at 8 p.m.


The Montage in Laguna Beach will host Paintbox, a New Year’s Eve party from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. for children ages 5-12. The evening features karaoke, a show, dinner, a movie, activities, and more. $150 per child.

Head to the Irvine Improv for an East Coast Countdown or a West Coast Countdown with Rob Schneider, the “Saturday Night Live” alum perhaps best known as the hilarious “copy guy.” The East Coast event starts at 7 p.m. and has a dinner option ($100) or regular admission for $50. The West Coast event starts at 10 p.m. and will feature Champagne and party favors for $100.


AnQi will highlight one-night-only holiday specials, in addition to its regular dinner menu, including a steamed California sole and an eight-hour slow roasted brisket. A five-course prix fixe dinner is available for $145 per person. There will be a live band and a DJ, plus a balloon drop at midnight.

Take the family to a Ducks game early on New Year’s Eve and get a good deal before you head out for the night. You can take advantage of the family pack that includes a ticket, hot dog, and soda starting at $31 each. The Ducks will play Arizona at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and every fan in attendance will receive a cell phone wallet.

Celebrate the start of 2018 at a tucked away location: The Ranch Laguna Beach. Highlights include music from the Shawn Jones Band, dancing, a photo booth, four snack stations, confetti, and Champagne at midnight. The event starts at 9 p.m. and costs $125 per person.

Yard House top chef sells Yorba Linda estate for record $6.095 million

via OCregister


Carlito Jocson, the top chef for Yard House restaurants, has sold his modern, 8,320-square-foot house on three acres in Yorba Linda for $6.095 million.

That sets a record for the most expensive home sale ever in the city, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

The house, on one of Orange County’s highest peaks, hit the market in September 2016 for $10 million. The price dropped to $8.688 million in February 2017 and $7.5 million in May.

The estate includes a full-size outdoor kitchen with a bar and wood-fired pizza oven. Flanking a zero-edge swimming pool are two glass-tiled fire pits. A meditation garden with more than a dozen olive trees and a disappearing entertainment system are among the outdoor features.

Inside, the solar-powered house has a restaurant-caliber kitchen, 1,200-bottle wine room and a home theater.

Jocson was one of the Yard House’s original founders and went on to become a vice president and the corporate executive chef.

Raj Qsar and Christina Boladian of The Boutique Real Estate Group co-listed the house; Edward Englehart and Leslie Cole of First Team Real Estate represented the buyers.







How to Create a Tech-Enhanced Brokerage that Wins

By Raj Qsar, Principal | Owner The Boutique Real Estate Group

The real estate industry is changing.  Hand-written offers, filing cabinets and printers are a thing of the past.  Mobile offices, instantaneous responses, and data analytics are here to stay.  For a brokerage to survive in this new digital age, their agents need to be equipped with state of the art tools at their fingertips.

Now that the days of drowning in paper are over, it seems like a new real estate technology pops up every day and it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lost in all the options.  So how do you differentiate the useful from the useless and figure out which tools are right for you and your brokerage?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this very question for my team at The Boutique Real Estate Group.  I started this brokerage with the primary objective of providing a world class experience for our clients.  I have known from day one that in order to deliver on this goal my agents would need the right tech tools to do high quality work and provide a seamless experience to their clients.

I invest in technology that will improve the agent experience and the customer experience.  I have developed these 5 “rules” for picking the right technology to develop a tech-centric brokerage:

1. Set a vision for your brokerage

Spend the time to brainstorm and define what kind of brokerage you want to be.  What is important to you?  What does your brokerage stand for?  And how will technology help you achieve this?  Clearly define it.  Write it down.  Memorize it.  Now every time you look at a potential tool ask yourself if it fits into your tech framework and if not – pass!

2. Culture is everything

You’ve defined your vision, but how do you bring it to life? The answer is – culture.  Don’t underestimate the power of culture to get everyone in your office to achieve your vision. It is up to you and your leadership team to develop a culture that embraces technology and values change.

3. Mobile first

Any technology that you consider for your brokerage MUST be mobile and tablet friendly.  Agents, brokers and the modern customer need location independence – the freedom to work and sign on the fly.  In the high speed world we live in nothing kills a deal like time.

4. Integrating gives you magic powers

The real secret to the getting the most out of your technology investment is integrations. When data is seamlessly shared from platform to platform, your agents or transactions coordinators don’t need to waste time on tedious data entry. This can improve accuracy and allow your agents to focus on their clients.

5. Pick a partner

In the end, when you select the technology provider – you are selecting a partner that will be with you for a long time.  Make sure to pick a company that shares your values, that will answer the phone when you call and that is working to build the same future for real estate that you are.  Don’t necessarily pick a company just for your needs today, but for your needs in 5, 10, 15 years…

With these rules in mind, I have built a tech-enhanced brokerage that is leading the way into real estate’s digital future and is fully armed to deliver high quality service.  Now that I’ve shared my secrets, please add your own in the comments section below.

Congratulations!  You’ve already taken the first step to properly preparing your brokerage for success in the digital age. Next up: navigating the hundreds of options out there – good luck!

Raj Qsar, Principal and Owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, was named The Real Estate Influencer of the Year 2017 by Inman News. He has cracked the code for creating a tech-enhanced brokerage and The Boutique was named Most Innovative Brokerage. Find out more about what the Boutique Real Estate Group is doing by connecting with Raj on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

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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.


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:




Just for Fun

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