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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Episode 97 – Raj Qsar, Owner – The Boutique Real Estate Group

via tres online

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June 6th, 2017 – Raj Qsar, owner/principal of The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, California shares his unique journey into the real estate profession. Unique is an appropriate term, as no other guest has traveled the path Raj details. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so tune into Episode 97 of The Real Estate Sessions and enjoy.

Giveback Homes Orange County Build Day

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MEDIA ADVISORY

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WHO:      Giveback Homes, The Boutique Real Estate Group, Commerce Mortgage, JJ Mazzo Summit Funding & Pango Escrow Group

WHERE:   4010 W. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704

WHEN:     June 3, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m

Giveback Homes and 25 members from The Boutique Real Estate Group, Commerce Mortgage, JJ Mazzo Summit Funding, Pango Escrow Group and local real estate agents are volunteering their time for a special Saturday build day at the Habitat for Humanity Santa Ana project. This project includes seventeen homes to be built in three phases at various locations in the city. The homes are being designed to be compatible with surrounding neighborhoods and incorporate green features including on-demand hot water, recycled sub-base aggregate concrete. construction waste reduction measures, and storm water infiltration systems to reduce the hydrocarbon run-off and recharge the groundwater aquifer.

Join Giveback Homes and Habitat for Humanity at this event to learn more about these homes and how Giveback Homes is contributing to addressing the need for housing in Southern California and around the globe.

Website:

https://givebackhomes.com, http://TheBoutiqueRE.com

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY:

Photo, interview & video opportunities available

Contacts:

Caroline Pinal // Giveback Homes // 661-992-6793

Raj Qsar // The Boutique Real Estate Group // 714-412-5019

About:

Giveback Homes is a community of real estate professionals who are committed to creating social change by helping build homes for deserving families around the globe. We work together to organize fundraising events, mobilize teams of volunteer homebuilders, and we inspire others to take action for social good.

The Boutique Real Estate Group is a boutique real estate brokerage founded in Orange County, CA, that focuses on brilliant design, beautiful marketing & luxury services. The Boutique has created a culture that spurs collaboration, technology and social media with a unique marketing approach. This design & tech-forward approach has earned The Boutique Real Estate Group accolades & awards worldwide.

 

How to hustle like a real estate rock star

via inman

Always doing it right, thinking downstream and focusing on connections are the keys to success

  • Be prepared for and willing to hustle 24/7 for your clients.
  • Make decisions with your future in mind. Think about how taking a listing you don’t want now can benefit you later.
  • Success in real estate comes down to the personal connections you make, so get out and network.

Recently, Raj Qsar — the principal/owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group — composed an intriguing and inspirational post on the Facebook group Lab Coat Agents about how a listing for a leased property, which he made no initial profit from, snowballed into at least 11 subsequent sales, countless connections and increased visibility over the course of the past three years.

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So, how can agents replicate the success that Qsar gained from an “undesirable” listing? He says it’s all about hustling and “doing it right.” Here are some of his tips on how to get your hustle on:

Be prepared and willing to hustle 24/7

Qsar said one of the first questions he asks potential hires is “What is your hustle like?” He looks for agents who have the natural drive to build face-to-face connections rather than those who prefer to stay cooped up in an office all day.

These type of agents are harder to find, Qsar said, because many professionals in the business think that becoming a top producer is an overnight process.

“Most people think they can show up, do some social media posts and all of a sudden they’re going to be a top agent in their area,” he says. “It’s not like that. You have to meet people where they are.”

“We’re able to look the tenant and the tenant’s agent in the eye, we’re able to open the door for them, make sure the beds are made, the lights are on, the music is playing, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming.” – Raj Qsar

Qsar says agents must realize that real estate is a total hustle. “You wake up hustling, during the day you’re hustling and you go to bed hustling, and then you dream about hustling,” he says.

So, what is the hustle? Qsar says it comes down to never saying “no,” executing each listing the right way and always putting your best foot forward.

“Even on million-dollar listings, if agents can take a reduced commission or they feel like it’s overpriced or whatever, they’re not going to put their best foot forward,” he said. “That’s just too bad that they’re not thinking downstream. ‘Cause the world is able to see anything that we drop on the Internet, and who knows what opportunity that will bring. It’s all downstream.”

Always do it right

Qsar says he knew he wasn’t going to make any money from the initial lease listing, but he decided to take the opportunity anyway.

He invested in professional photos and brochures, staging, a single-property website and even ordered custom signs that were up to the neighborhood’s code.

In addition to stellar marketing strategies, Qsar provided five-star customer service through appointment-only showings.

“We’re able to look the tenant and the tenant’s agent in the eye; we’re able to open the door for them, make sure the beds are made, the lights are on, the music is playing, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming,” he says with a laugh. “We’re driving, taking time out of our day to make sure we can open the door for someone we don’t even know. That’s doing it right.”

 

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Think downstream

Qsar says he treated the leased property like a million-dollar listing to “give the client the best chance of success.” Plus, he knew that his current efforts would lead to future rewards.

“What we preach at our brokerage is that it’s all about downstream. You’re not taking a listing for this listing, you’re taking it for the next listing,” he says. “You’re taking a listing for the digital content you’re going to produce, and you’re taking it for the online leads you’re going to generate from that one listing.”

Furthermore, Qsar says most agents are transactionally trained, which means they are trained for “this one and only transaction.” Basically, agents are playing a game of checkers when they should be playing chess, which puts them behind in the long run.

 

“[Agents are] not trained digitally, they’re not trained for content, they’re not trained to meet real people in real life,” he says.

Focus on making personal connections

Out of all the aspects of being a successful real estate agent, it’s clear that Qsar treasures his ability to make personal connections the most.

“Something that everyone seems to forget is that you’re going to meet real, live human beings from this listing,” he says. “That’s an opportunity for you to connect with people in real life, and when you connect with people in real life your chance of success is much greater.”

Qsar says that personal connections not only make it easier on the agent but also the client, which is what the work of real estate is all about.

Anaheim, CA: 10 Time-Lapse Images of the City’s Newest and Biggest Additions

via RENTcafé

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Orange County’s fairytale city of Anaheim has been growing since 1890. It remains a hugely popular vacation destination, business HQ, and playground for visionaries. From Victorian mansions, to Colony Historic District, modern homes, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the Disneyland Anaheim Resort area, with the backdrop of the snowcapped mountains of the Santa Ana Canyon, there is plenty to feast the eyes on here.

In 2008 the city announced plans to double the number of housing and commercial business spaces in the Platinum Triangle area around Angel Stadium, as well as to incorporate a new rapid transit system. So how has the city’s face changed since then?

With the help of Google Street View, we complied a collection of interactive time-lapse images showing how Anaheim has been improving its appeal in recent years. Simply hold and drag the arrow left and right to see the old vs new:

1. Walnut Village Retirement Community – West Anaheim

Year Built: 2009

Walnut Village is operated by nonprofit Front Porch, and has become one of the top rated centers of its type since 2010. The community provides assisted living built around a shop lined village square, was awarded Continuing Care Retirement Community of the Year by 50+ Builders Magazine, Gold Award for Best Small CRCC by the NAHB, and Beautification of Anaheim Award.

2. SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate – Anaheim Resort

Year Built: 2014

SpringHill Suites’ new hotel in Anaheim puts guests in close proximity to Disneyland, while catering to business travelers with interiors featuring desks and light spaces, as well as an on-site snack shop and small fitness center. Conveniently located near the Anaheim Convention Center, the hotel features its own modern, boutique meeting spaces.

 

3. Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance – Anaheim Resort

Year Built: 2015

The new 6-story Courtyard Marriot in Anaheim sits close to the theme park entrance, offers vibrant décor, a family-friendly atmosphere, and even sports its own waterpark on-site, complete with water slides. Some rooms offer views of the Disney firework shows at night. The design provides a unique blend of mission and modern aesthetics.

 

4. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Anaheim Resort Area – Anaheim Resort

Year Built: 2016

The brand new Holiday Inn Express & Suits Anaheim Resort Hotel offers 5 stories of accommodations, an onsite pool and splash area, and is just moments from all the excitement of Disney. Found right off the expressway and steps to Downtown Disney this hotel is well situated for families looking to get in every moment of action they can.

 

5. SpringHill Suites – Anaheim Resort

Year Built: 2014

The second new SpringHill Suites hotel on this list – this building puts visitors right in the heart of it, with easy walking to the resort and Anaheim convention center, as well as downtown amenities. Modern design, kid-friendly interiors, and an on-site CVS Pharmacy and coffee and tea shop make this a great convenient choice for tourists.

6. Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort and Convention Center

Year Built: 2014

Another new hotel just down the street, Hyatt offers guests walking access to resorts, convention center events, the farmer’s market, garden walk, and art walks. Standing out from the others on the list, Hyatt Place boasts architectural elements that reflect the interior’s more business-like minimalist chic design.

7. Kaiser Permanente Orange County Anaheim Medical Center – Canyon District

Year Built: 2012

One of the largest employers in Anaheim has opened an expansive new medical facility encompassing 434,000 square feet. The building replaces the old Lakeview Hospital built back in 1979. The new campus is built around a 3-acre ‘healing garden’, hosts 262 private rooms, emergency treatment bays, labor and delivery rooms, and a helipad.

 

8. The Crossing Apartments – Canyon District

Year Built: 2010

In contrast to the other new buildings on this list The Crossing rental apartments in Anaheim offer a bolder exterior with modern lines and a dash of color. Taking sustainability seriously from start to finish, the LEED Gold Certified apartment building boasts a 94% landfill diversion and 75% recycling rate during demolition and construction.

 

9. Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) – Platinum Garden

Year Built: 2014

The spaceship-looking Anaheim Regional Transport Intermodal Center (ARTIC) is a bold addition to the architectural landscape of this area. This transport hub’s diamond quilt-shaped exterior was created to optimize sustainability. Solar provides 20% of the energy used by the building, which lights up in bright colors at night. Winner of the 2015 Public Works Project of the Year Award, and LEED Platinum Certified, it is also home to a Bitcoin ATM.

 

10. Ajax La Palma Business Center – Canyon District

Year Built: 2014

Ranked as one of the largest industrial real estate projects built in the Anaheim area in years, just shy of 100,000 square feet, the business center was built by Ottomans Construction.

Top 100 Real Estate Influencers on Social Media

via homespotter

Trying to be a better realtor, investor, and business woman is tough. To keep on top of your game, you know the value of learning from the best.

So, I did some heavy lifting for you to find some of the most influential real estate agents and influencers to learn from online. Then, I curated some of the best resources they created, as a one-stop shop.

Rather than list these experts in random order (or choosing our favorites), we took the time to rank each person based on their influence across social media, using scores from FollowerWonk, Klout, and our own judgment.

While not a perfect science, by ranking each influencer by their social impact, you will have a better sense of who you want to learn from as you master your craft.

As the Principal/Owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, Raj has invested heavily in bringing all aspects of the real estate experience completely in-house. From custom design, professional staging, architectural photography, cinematography and social media to technology, internet optimization, cloud based transaction management and global listing syndication. This design & tech-forward approach has earned The Boutique Real Estate Group accolades & awards worldwide.

In 2016 Raj was named to the prestigious SP200 Honoring The Most Powerful 200 People in Residential Real Estate. Raj was selected as Most Innovative Real Estate Agent in 2014. Raj was also selected as 33 People Changing The Real Estate Industry by Inman News and was also named Top 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders For 2013.
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What to look for in a Luxury home

via David Glenn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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West Coast Rents on Fire: San Francisco Rents Projected to Rise Faster than Any Other US Metro in 2016

Via RentCafe

 

With homeownership rates at historically low levels and a lack of affordable housing options in all major metro areas, renting becomes a challenge for renters all across the US, particularly low- and middle-income earners. Rents have been steadily rising for the past year, with the national average for an apartment hitting an all-time high of $1,181 in March 2016, up 5.7% from 2015.

Looking ahead, it becomes pretty clear that it’s not a question of “if” anymore, it’s about how much rents will increase this year. If the Southeast and the Northeast Corridor maintain a fairly normal pace in rent growth, the West is expected to rock the landlords’ world and post record-breaking price increases this year.

In San Francisco’s case it’s all the more dire as apartments here are already outrageously expensive – think $2,400 on average for a studio and $4,800 for a two-bedroom in the city. By year end, the Bay Area is expected to see a 10.5% jump in rent prices. The same goes for LA and Sacramento, where mild winters and lush scenery come at a price – not at all negligible and still on the rise.

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Amid historic rent hikes, Portland remains a bargain for San Francisco and Seattle transplants

The biggest surprise comes from Portland, where demographic and employment tailwinds keep demand for rental apartments up there as well. Rents in the city are expected to climb an impressive 8.8% this year, making Portland one of the main contenders for the “hottest metro for rent growth in 2016” title. But when compared to other millennial-magnet, job-centered hubs on the West Coast, Portland is actually much easier on the pocket. Whereas Portland apartments rent for $1,252 on average, both San Francisco and northern neighbor Seattle have higher average rents – $2,810 and $1,555, respectively.

Looking for cheaper rent? March South!

Headed to the Southeast? You’ve hit the jackpot! It’s where the jobs, the nice weather, and the low rents are. Atlanta, Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, as well as Texas’ major urban hotspots – San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston – are top choices for those in search of a more relaxed housing landscape.

Check out the full list of the hottest markets for projected rent growth in 2016 in the nifty infographic below!

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Inman Teams with Lab Coat Agents for Learning Lab at Connect

via inman SF

Focus on agent advice and easy-to-implement business building tactics

Inman and Lab Coat Agent founders Nick Baldwin and Tristan Ahumada have announced a new collaboration with Inman for Connect San Francisco. The Learning Lab at Connect is a two-hour hands on session featuring advice and insights popular on the Lab Coat Agents Facebook group.

Designed specifically for agents who are looking for practical, business building skills, the learning lab will be on Tuesday, August 2nd at Inman Connect San Francisco. Tuesday at Connect is free for Select members and included with a Connect registration. Non-Select members can purchase a Tuesday-only pass for $29. Register for Connect here or Tuesday only here.

Baldwin and Ahumada will host the lab and will cover tech and marketing topics including: video marketing, leveraging client reviews, branding and luxury listing marketing and, of course, using Facebook to build your business. Confirmed speakers include Steve Pacinelli, Laura Monroe, Raj Qsar, Sergio Gonzalez, Amanda Todd, Terry Waggoner, Jason Walters, and Travis Thom.

“Inman and Lab Coat Agents share the same vision: bringing together the best in the business to collaborate, network and share the latest, successful strategies,” said Brad Inman, publisher.

“Lab Coat Agents is thrilled to bring our hands on approach to discovering what works for today’s agent to Connect San Francisco. It’s the perfect platform to share and learn with the best of the best,” said Nick Baldwin, Lab Coat Agents.

The Learn Lab will be Tuesday, August 2, from 12 to 2 p.m. at the Hilton Union Square. Save your spot now here.

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Raising the Real Estate Bar with Raj Qsar

via PLACESTER

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Years ago, real estate agents were the gatekeepers. If you as a consumer wanted to know what was on the market, you had to go through an agent. But those gates are gone. Real estate consumers now have access to all the property data they could ever want. Today, you need to give them something unique, something they can’t Google—and Raj Qsar has a few ideas about how to do it.

Raj is truly on the cutting edge of the real estate business. In 2015, Inman News named him one of the 33 People Who Are Changing The Real Estate Industry. As principal of The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, California, Raj has led the charge to create content and experiences that provide value for real estate consumers far beyond the MLS.

“I wanted to do something that was different,” Raj explained. So, in 2009, Raj worked with a local filmmaker to produce an emotional short film about one of his listings. “Not only did we sell a price record on that home, we got like every listing for the next three years in that neighborhood.” Today, The Boutique Real Estate Group continues to produce high-quality videos that offer prospective buyers a beautiful, intimate look at their clients’ listings.

Whether it’s through video or some other avenue, Raj says, today’s agents need to focus on adding more value for their clients. “Give them something they don’t know,” Raj told us. “‘Hey, did you know that this neighborhood on the 4th of July actually shut down the streets? There’s a live band, a taco cart, and the local fire department comes up and does a parade with all the kids?’ [That’s] the stuff that…provides value to these people who wanna spend a couple million bucks on a home.”

Of course, it’s not just the agent’s responsibility to add value: brokers also need to step up and provide for their agents. “They need to create value within the brokerage to be able to push it to their agents, so the agents can push it to their clients, and give [them] the opportunity for success,” Raj explained. That value consists not just of modern tools and great design, but also intensive, one-on-one training in how to use these resources effectively.

“Most of the agents [we hire] are at these big brokerages with 500, 600, 800 agents,” Raj told us. “They feel like a fish. They feel like they have a number. They come here and they’re like, ‘I can’t believe how much one-on-one time I got. I can’t believe that you sat down for three hours and didn’t look at your phone one time.’”

In this interview, Raj explains how video can tell powerful stories around your listings and neighborhoods, and describes how today’s brokers should be investing in each of their agents.

Listen to the Podcast here.

– Matt & Seth