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.

33 People Who Are Changing the Real Estate Industry

via Inman Select

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.

Known as a marketing and sales team firm that happens to sell real estate, the Boutique Real Estate Group emphasizes design and digital marketing. Qsar’s team includes a creative director, interior designer and cinematographer. With a big social footprint, he is an example of what is possible in video, technology and design. @RajQsar

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Read Article Here: http://bit.ly/Inman33
Twitter List Here: http://bit.ly/Inman33twitter
Download PDF Here: http://bit.ly/Inman33pdf

36th Annual Corona del Mar Christmas Walk Holiday Festival

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!

The Boutique Real Estate Group

3653 E. Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar, Ca 92625

949-612-2535 or Info@TheBoutiqueRE.com

Items required for a home loan

Important Documents Your Lender Will Need From You.  Yea. It’s a crazy list!

Using this list of key documents, gather all the materials into one online folder so that you’re never scrambling to find the right paperwork.  We suggest dropbox or google drive.

  • Copy of your driver’s license or passport
  • Proof of regular rental or housing payments
  • Copies of your two most recent paycheck stubs
  • Copies of your W-2’s from the past two years
  • Copies of your federal tax returns with all schedules for the past two years – state not needed

 

Are you self-employed?

  • A statement of year-to-date profit-and-loss for the business
  • Copy of any corporate tax returns and K-1’s for the past 2 years

 

Proof of assets:

  • Copy of all current IRA statements, stock and bond accounts, or any other retirement or investment accounts for the past 2 years
  • Copy of current bank statements for each account for the past 2 months
  • Documents on the value of personal property like automobiles
  • Forms showing the face amount and value of life insurance policies
  • Copy of lease agreement for all rental properties
  • Copy of any student loan deferment letter or agreement reflecting the monthly payment

 

Additional documents you may need:

  • If you are divorced, a copy of the final divorce decree
  • If you have filed for bankruptcy, the complete bankruptcy paperwork including discharge paperwork
  • If you are an active veteran, a statement of service, DD-214, and Certificate of Eligibility

 

Shopping Your Loan? Here are some good questions to ask…

Print out the following list and keep it on-hand as you start shopping for your home loan. Meeting with loan officers can be overwhelming — this way you won’t forget to ask important questions.

  • Is the mortgage fixed or variable?
  • If the loan is fixed, what is the interest rate or annual percentage rate (APR) of the loan?
  • If the loan is variable, when does the rate change? And how is the rate change determined?
  • How long are quoted interest rates good for?
  • Is the Good Faith Estimate guaranteed?
  • What are the escrow requirements for taxes and insurance?
  • Is there a penalty for paying off the loan early?
  • Do you allow extra principal payments?
  • How long do funds, say for a down payment, need to be in my bank account before closing?
  • What are all the closing costs? Will you provide a written list?
  • Are any of the costs or fees negotiable, or capable of being waived?
  • Which financial firm will service the loan?
  • How long does the funding process usually take? Are on-time closings guaranteed?
  • What changes, such as employment changes, should I avoid before the loan closes?

 

For questions or comments please contact Allycyn Bennett with United American Mortgage Company at 949-717-7290 or Abennett@uamco.com

To find out the current value of your home please visit http://GetMyHomeWorth.com

Items Needed For A Loan

12 Unique Housewarming Gifts for the Holiday Season

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!

Techies 

Like themiPhone 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 themPhotojojo 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 themJawbone 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.

Athletes 

Like themMedley in the Meadow Speaker Blanket – Warm, easy to pack, and plays music! Need we say more?

Love themNature 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 themThe 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!

Culinary Enthusiast 

Like themRock 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? 

Love themCuisine R-Evolution Molecular Gastronomy Kit – For experienced culinary lovers, watch the video, enough said.

In love with themNespresso 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.

World Traveler 

Like themCelestial 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 themSelk’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?

Zinnia and Caserta Offer Homebuyers Early 2015 Move-In Options or Customization Opportunities

via California Pacific Homes

IRVINE, CA–(Marketwired – Nov 6, 2014)- California Pacific Homes presents two opportunities for an extraordinary Irvine address at Zinnia and 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.

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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.

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.

Laguna Beach | The Boutique Real Estate Group | Chris Kwon

Laguna Beach Lifeguard Tower

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

Laguna Beach, Ca

Save The Date | Tuesday May 6th | Educational Dinner

Join industry experts as they talk shop about the way our economy is changing. Meet Morris Boladian from CML Wealth Management, Allycyn Bennett from United American Mortgage Company and Raj Qsar from The Boutique Real Estate Group. Tuesday Evening May 6th at The Summit House Restaurant in Fullerton.  Please RSVP to Lisa Ortega at 714.494.2460 or LisaO@CMLwealth.com

 

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Yorba Linda Country Club | The Boutique Real Estate Group

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Looking for a place where everyone in your family can enjoy themselves, create

new memories and make new friends? Then look no further! The Yorba Linda

Country Club (YLCC) offers that all and more!

This club was established in 1957 and has a beautiful par-71 Harold Rainville

designed golf course, manicured to perfection and lined with mature trees to

outline the Bermuda fairways, elevated greens and the inviting water features.

Even President Nixon has enjoyed a round or two of golf here! How cool is that?

I am fortunate to be a tennis member and love being apart the YLCC family. I

can tell you that when you join they really do go out of your way to make you

feel at home. From the new member happy hours, your photo on the wall and

the welcoming smiles you receive as you walk through the door, the staff at the

club certainly know how to make you feel special and appreciated. There is

always something fun organized to do here and the food is great! You can also

just come up and enjoy a relaxing day at the heated pool! Either way, this has

certainly become one of my favorite places to be!

57  If you are into golf there are two memberships (Corporate and Full Golf) both offering you full club privileges and the best of what the club has to offer!

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With the Tennis Membership you receive all the benefits of a social membership, full use of the 8 lighted tennis courts, events, club house and more! 

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With the Social Membership you have access to the clubhouse, pool and a calendar full social events!

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