“If you follow us around any real estate trade show, we spend a lot of time talking to vendors about their products. We constantly research better tools and technology to help us better serve clients. Our favorite part is taking a new listing that’s a little ugly and making it look amazing. That’s something we do really well.” THE MARKET – Many of The Boutique’s Orange County clients fall into the luxury market, but every client deserves luxury service and marketing. THE CULTURE – The Boutique spurs collaboration through technology and culture. THE MAN – “I don’t know how many hours I put in. It doesn’t feel like work. That’s one of the elements I’ve always enjoyed.”
The Boutique invests heavily in telling the story of every home, believing beautiful design evokes a connection between client, agent, and the home-buying process. The Boutique focuses on providing best-in-class service through a combination of great habits, great marketing, and bleeding-edge technology. Incredible service and marketing are key ingredients in the success of The Boutique. And a large amount of credit belongs to technology and systems that support: Convenience – “If you give clients a choice—do the paperwork now at the house, or wait and I’ll come by tomorrow? One hundred percent of my clients say right now. And they’re not all 30 years old.” Service – “It makes your job, your agent’s job, and your client’s life easier. You’ll never hear me say to a client, I don’t have that right now. When I’m at my office again, I’ll get back to you.” The Customer Experience – “Emailing back and forth—that’s not a great way to send documents to my clients. DocuSign transaction sharing tools do a much better job.” ROI – “People often hire me—and I get recommended to people—because the technology that we use makes the experience a lot easier.”
68% OF AGENTS PREDICT TRANSACTIONS WILL BECOME ENTIRELY MOBILE (BUT ONLY 61% OF THEIR BROKERAGES PROVIDE MOBILE TRANSACTION MANAGEMENT).
“If you’re not willing to invest in your business there’s plenty of your competitors out there that will.”
Top 4 Reasons to LOVE DocuSign
1. LEVEL OF SERVICE: “We just believe clients want what they want when they ask for it. So, if I have the ability to answer the phone and take their question, I should probably have access to a tool that allows me to find their answer or expedite a document right there on the spot.”
2. THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE: “I do everything possible to be accommodating and make the transaction smooth for my clients. That’s really the role that DocuSign plays. The Transaction Rooms collaboration tools and transparency make it easy and convenient for clients.”
3. THE AGENT EXPERIENCE: “DocuSign makes it easy for agents to do their job from anywhere, at anytime. If a broker is not focused on providing agents with convenient tools that help them be more productive—that’s a great way to lose them.”
4. LIABILITY: “Because DocuSign lets the broker manage the transaction from the back end, you’ve got the compliance issue covered.”
In the future, selling houses might be less about realtors and more about video creators. While traditional open houses and “for sale” signs aren’t going away anytime soon, in years to come it could be a viral video that gets a buyer to sign on the dotted line.
Straightforward video tours have been around for some years, but we’ve gone beyond that and taken a look at five fabulously creative ways people have used video to sell property around the world, from music videos to high-tech drones via 3D fly-throughs.
Plain video house tours are all well and good, but what if instead of a dry, room-by-room tour around a property, you used the video to tell a story and sell a lifestyle?
The Boutique Real Estate Group is very good at this, producing a series of glossy ads for houses that engage you with a simple plot device, making them much more interesting than the average tour.
In this example, seeing the kids run through the beautiful rooms as they find a suitable cubbyhole for a game of hide-and-seek is just a genius way to show the home’s family-friendly, attractive living spaces.
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.
No points for tweeting, schmoozing or defending the status quo
In 1982, the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was introduced which in effect, launched the Internet. Nothing has done more to transform culture, the economy and real estate in the last three decades. In honor of the 33rd anniversary, we are recognizing 33 people who are changing or will change the real estate industry in 2015 and beyond. No points for tweeting, schmoozing or maintaining the status quo; this list includes only those who are poised to change the industry and are taking actions to do so.
Come visit The Boutique Real Estate Group Sunday Dec. 7th from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM for the 36 Annual Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk. Our door will be open and we will be serving yummy treat & playing Christmas music. This year the Christmas Walk will feature:
– 12 live bands
– Food tastings from our local restaurants
– Local Merchants promotions, samples and giveaways.
– Beer & Wine garden.
– Santa Claus, Bouncy houses, and a petting zoo.
– Drawing for over $15,000 in prizes.
The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce is proud to present the community’s most popular event of the year! This is an absolute can’t miss special event filled with holiday festivities for family, friends, residents and visitors looking for a spectacular way to ring in the holiday season. Each year “The Walk” brings together thousands of fun-loving people into the Village of Corona del Mar for live entertainment, food, prizes and games in true holiday spirit!
It’s the holiday season and we can’t wait to taste that juicy Thanksgiving turkey roasting in the oven! Many families start their holiday festivities soon after Halloween, with beautiful lighting up and down the streets of our community, and the smell of fresh fir and cinnamon sticks filling our homes. We love this time of year, can’t you tell?
Whether you will be attending a holiday party hosted by your company, family member, or some close friends, here is a list of noteworthy housewarming gifts that will grace any home!
Like them: iPhone 6 dock – Yet another way to organize their gadgets! Except this time, this little dock will be dedicated to their everyday necessities; iPhone, watch, wallet, and other accessories.!
Love them: Photojojo Lens Series – Every techie will have either an iPhone or an Android… or both! Give your host the chance to gear up that already awesome camera and let their inner photographer shine!
In love with them: Jawbone Big Jambox – The best Bluetooth wireless speaker, a staple on every techie’s (or non-techie’s!) desk. With precision-tuned drivers, dual passive bass radiators, and multi-band compressors working in concert, your eyes won’t believe your ears.
Love them: Nature Box Subscription – What’s better than an ordinary gift? A gift that keeps coming… every month! Athletes are always looking for healthy snacks to munch on in between meals. Nature Box sends its subscribers 5 full-sized packages of great tasting nutritionist-approved snacks. Choose from a month-to-month, 3 months, 6 months, or 12-month subscription.
In love with them: The Dash Wireless Earphones – Athletes, get ready to say goodbye to your phone. These perfect wireless earphones are integrated with 4GB storage allowing its owner to carry up to 1000 songs in his/her ears. The Dash is also a microphone, Bluetooth headset, fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, and best of all, waterproof. Say goodbye to the days of tangle interfering headphones and music players, and hello to a truly hands-free workout!
Like them: Rock Glass – Someone who nearly lives in the kitchen may already have all tools they need for all of their secret recipes. Why not grab two sets of these to give their bar section a little boost?
In love with them: Nespresso Pixi Aluminium – approved by the pickiest of espresso palates (me included)! Espresso from this machine never tastes watered down, with plenty of flavors to choose from. Will be treasured by any culinary household, guaranteed.
Like them: Celestial Coaster Set – World travelers often times bring home carefully selected pieces from the different countries and cultures they have visited. Once home how nice would it be to kick back, relax, and enjoy drinks with these beautiful coasters?
Love them: Selk’bag Marvel Collection Wearable Sleeping Bag – Now not every world travel may be a backpacker, but how awesome are these? When the comfort of a onesie meets your favorite defenders of humanity from arguably the best comic book university- we’re almost sure you’ll never set eyes on another sleeping bag again!
In love with them: GoPro HERO 4 – You’ll have to really love them to get this for your host because it will cost you a pretty penny. A GoPro camera has all the capabilities of a hi-res camera plus so much more… A must for any world traveler!
Obviously, these gifts aren’t only for the Techies, Athletes, Culinary Enthusiasts, and World Travelers! If you have a special host to surprise, it might be a great idea to split the pricier gifts among a group who may also be going to the event. Which one of these gifts would you love to receive?
IRVINE, CA–(Marketwired – Nov 6, 2014)- California Pacific Homes presents two opportunities for an extraordinary Irvine address at Zinniaand Caserta attached-home neighborhoods in Cypress Village. Zinnia’s townhomes and Caserta’s townhomes and flats feature a variety of innovative floorplans to suit the lifestyles of today’s buyers. With designer-upgraded homes ready for early 2015 move-ins or the opportunity to choose your own custom finishes on homes ready for move-in later in the New Year, buyers are encouraged to tour today and explore the neighborhoods’ convenient location just steps from resort-style recreation and top-rated Irvine schools. To stay informed on neighborhood updates and new phase releases, join the appropriate Interest Registry at www.CalPacificHomes.com.
“Zinnia and Caserta offer buyers a lifestyle of distinction — and that’s a quality not often found in a townhome,” said Leslie Stillman, Vice President, Sales & Marketing and Design Center for California Pacific Homes. “From the architectural styles to a vibrant, walkable location, buyers recognize just how exceptional these neighborhoods are.”
Zinnia’s townhome designs offer 2 to 4 bedrooms with 2.5 to 3.5 baths and a convenient two-car attached garage in approximately 1,163 to 1,531 square feet. Select floorplans include charming decks, private, fenced courtyards, a secluded downstairs bedroom or home office and an optional second floor configuration with dual master bedrooms and a loft. These innovative new townhomes are now selling from the mid $400,000s.
Beautiful exterior architecture, desirable Bosch kitchen appliances, modern amenities and abundant storage reflect the attention to detail in each Caserta floorplan. The neighborhood’s townhomes and flats include 2 to 3 bedrooms plus loft, 2 to 3.5 baths and 2-car attached garage. Interior spaces span from approximately 1,165 to 1,810 square feet with prices ranging from the high $400,000s.
Cypress Village, within the Villages of Irvine®, offers residents everything families want and need to thrive now and in the years to come. Offering the next generation in new home designs, Cypress Village provides residents with resort-style recreation for the young and young at heart, a convenient setting near your favorite places and acres of parks for fun in the sun, and is conveniently located just moments away from the region’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment. Students attend the state-of-the-art Jeffrey Trail Middle School and the newly opened Cypress Village Elementary School, both conveniently located within the Village and part of the heralded Irvine Unified School District.
Created by Irvine Company Community Development, Cypress Village is located in the City of Irvine. Money Magazine recently ranked The City of Irvine as “the top small California city to live in for 2014.” The highly-acclaimed master-planned community is renowned for allowing residents to enjoy a unique lifestyle unmatched in the region — some of the best schools in the state; America’s safest city for nine straight years; abundant open space, parks and recreational opportunities; and world-class dining, entertainment and employment. For more information about the Villages of Irvine, visit www.VillagesofIrvine.com.
California Pacific Homes is a landmark homebuilder comprised of forward thinkers who possess the capacity and intuition to design and deliver inventive new neighborhoods in the most desirable locations. Driven by innovation and a fresh approach, the art and expertise of homebuilding is elevated to the next level by consistently introducing extraordinary new home opportunities to the Southern California marketplace. For more information, please visit www.calpacifichomes.com.
To visit Zinnia, exit the I-5 Freeway at Jeffrey Road and turn right. Turn right on Roosevelt, then right on Rush Lily, left on Nightmist and right on Tulip. The Zinnia models and sales office are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 949.502.5373.
To visit Caserta, exit the I-5 Freeway at Jeffrey Road and turn right. Turn right on Roosevelt, right on Rush Lilly then right again on Velvet Flower. The Caserta models and sales office are open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 949.387.9665.
Prices, product type and availability are subject to change without notice.
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.
YOGA IN THE PARK | Self NavigationYoga and meditation that will focus on self navigation. Perfect for beginner and intermediate yogis.
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.
YOGA IN THE PARK | Strength and SoftnessYoga and meditation that will focus on strength and softness. Perfect for beginner and intermediate yogis.
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.
YOGA IN THE PARK | Creating SpaceYoga and meditation that will focus on creating space. Perfect for beginner and intermediate yogis.
Please register in advance for Cooking Demos, Garden Workshops and Yoga Classes.
Laguna Beach is like no other place in Orange County. Take a moment and soak this in. The landscape, culture, people and the colors (ohhh the colors), makes it even hard to compare even to it’s neighboring cities. Even the scent of the ocean is different. The people of Laguna Beach know what I’m talking about, so this may be a odd concept to picture if you’ve never been here before.
But for those of you that live here and had to narrow down the best thing that this city has to offer, what would it be? Would it be the effect that the cool crisp air has across your skin as you open up the door for the first time in the morning? Or what about the grains of sand in between you toes as you walk along the beach? Maybe it’s the sound of the splashing waves as they hit the shore?
For me Laguna Beach is like a botanical garden. So alive, surrounded by diversity as every element changes so subtly. A collection of organic specimens that thrive and flow freely like a poem in harmony. Nothing ever stays the same but nothing really ever changes either.
So have I done it? Have I lost you in translation? Good, because this is the essence that makes Laguna Beach so unique and abstract. Everything that this city has to offer culminates to understanding this concept. But to understand this, you have to come and experience it for yourself. Your path might be different but you will all end up in the same place. You will understand that magnificence is a word that falls short in describing this city and all that it has to offer.
For a private home tour of Laguna Beach please contact Chris Kwon at Chris.Kwon@TheBoutiqueRE.com