Wanderlust

By:  Melissa Sims | The Boutique Real Estate Group

October 15th, 2013

Some may call me a wanderer, a nomad, a gypsy.  I can’t say that I ever stayed in one place too long…enduring the desert weather of New Mexico, the humidity of Texas, the sub-zero temperatures of New York & Wisconsin, and basking in the sunny days of Southern California.  In fact, my current home is the longest I have stayed in one place. Before I moved here, my longest stint in one city was – wait for it – three whole years!  That’s a lot of moving for someone as young (at heart) as me.

But those days are over.

Foothill Ranch does that to people.  It lures you in with its rolling hills, beautiful natural landscapes, sense of community and that certainSOMETHING you can’t quite put your finger on.

Perhaps it’s the proximity to just about everything?  ‘Foothill’ as residents call it, feels far enough removed from the hustle and bustle, but close enough to everything to not feel burdened by the quiet.  Just a five-minute drive away, the Irvine Spectrum has amazing dining and shopping.  Or, if you aren’t in the shopping mood, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park has some of the best hiking, mountain biking and wildlife-watching in all of Orange County.  Maybe you feel more like skateboarding or BMX riding?  Well, you’re in luck – Foothill Ranch is home to the world-famous Etnies Skate Park, a free-amenity to all Foothill residents.  Looking for a California Distinguished School that is in the top 5 in the district?  Yeah, we have that too.

Or, maybe, just maybe, you feel like sitting in your own backyard, relaxing and listening to the peaceful sounds of nature.  You won’t hear traffic, or freeways, or sirens around here.  It’s a little slice of paradise.

My wanderlust is staying at bay for now.  Nine years in, and I may just spend the next twenty happily trying to figure out just what it is that makes this place so special.

To meet Melissa Sims please visit www.TheBoutiqueRE.com/Melissa-Sims

 HomeFront_hires

2013 Next Generation Brokerage by Better Homes & Garden Real Estate and 1000 Watt Consulting

We are honored to be selected as the 2013 Next Generation Brokerage by Better Homes & Garden Real Estate and 1000 Watt Consulting.  The Boutique Real Estate Group is a new breed of real estate brokerage.  We are attracting and engaging new customers. Empowering our agents and clients with the latest, most flexible technology and building meaningful brand.

 

Team-2013

The story of the real estate agent turned broker is a familiar one. A natural progression in the industry.

Raj Qsar is that broker. After working for 12 years in the business as an agent, in 2013 he opened The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, Calif.

His vision? Build a brokerage that is outstanding at visual marketing.

Design is the rule, not the exception

The first rule of real estate has always been location. But Raj and his team are proving that today it’s just as much about design. Design in web and print marketing, video, and the homes themselves.

This is why Raj’s company team page contains nearly as many professional designers and creative roles as it does agents.

Bypassing a typical brokerage organizational chart, Raj’s team includes a creative director, interior designer and cinematographer. From day one, Raj has made quality design a key part of Boutique Real Estate’s unique value proposition.

“We’re a sales and marketing team, but we happen to focus on real estate,” Raj said.

Boutique’s approach to design in digital marketing really shines in their single-property websitesHDR photographyHD virtual tours and high-definition videos.

Every home is staged and professionally photographed for inclusion in custom designed print and digital marketing materials. They shoot a video of nearly every listing, and own all of the necessary equipment from cameras to lenses to lighting and sound.

“We’re a sales and marketing team, but we happen to focus on real estate.”

This treatment is engrained in the Boutique Real Estate customer experience. Raj and his team are uncompromising on this. From the full-time stager they’ve hired to the in-house videographer and graphic designer, clearly this is where the brokerage breaks the mold.

Video is the rising star

In 2010, Raj and his team started experimenting with video, realizing quickly that it paid off in terms of return on investment. “People were showing up at our open houses knowing it was us because of the videos and photography they’d seen in marketing materials,” Raj said.

“I figured out quickly, though, that hiring third-party vendors was a losing investment,” he said. That’s why he purchased all of the necessary audio and visual equipment and brought on a professional videographer to focus solely on videos.

While plenty of brokerage companies and agent teams create video in their marketing, Boutique Real Estate’s take is different. They use high production value without going over the top, subtle humor, contemporary music and an imaginative and fun approach to the typical home tour.

Check out a few of their recent property videos here, and you’ll see it feels more like you’re getting a taste of the lifestyle associated with homes than just a straight walkthrough on camera. And that’s the goal.

Natural selection

In keeping with a focus on high-quality marketing and building a unique brand around that value, Raj’s approach to recruiting is to be highly selective. “We say no to more people wanting to join us than we say yes to,” he said.

Part of this is because the whole notion behind the “boutique” brokerage is working with a highly focused small team. Also, the allure is customized marketing, which becomes challenging at a larger scale.

In general, Raj looks for sales associates who are passionate, relatable and people-oriented, and who are active participants in their community.

What lies ahead

When thinking about the future, Raj and his team remain open-minded. He likes to make sure they’re always thinking ahead to what consumers will want and need five years from now – how they’ll want to do business, how they’ll want to view properties and how agents will work best.

One goal is to open Boutique offices in select California markets, including Corona Del Mar, Napa, Palm Springs and North San Diego.

Of course, no one can predict the future, but Boutique Real Estate will continue to keep an eye on design trends and lead its real estate marketing in these same trajectories.

See more at: http://nextgenbrokerage.com/company/the-boutique-real-estate-group/#sthash.z57bEFuL.dpuf

 

What’s In A Name

Via TruliaPro
Average Price Per Square Foot Based on Address Suffixes
Who knew address suffix could make such a difference? Each square foot on a “street” is $31 dollars less then a square foot on a “boulevard.  What do you think?

 Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 9.48.08 AM

Getting Business Done. Everywhere.

Customer Story: Jeremy Lehman

Jeremy-Lehman
You always hear about how technology can solve this problem or that problem, or help you do something better or more efficiently. While it might seem like there are endless possibilities – sometimes knowing how to leverage technology or “use it” can be more of a challenge than finding the right solutions.

Meet Jeremy Lehman – he really “gets it.”

Jeremy is a technology enthusiast turned real estate agent in Orange County, California who is always on the go. I gave Jeremy a call the other day as he was in-between a quick stop at the Apple store and picking up his kids from school. “I would say that I am on my mobile devices ninety plus percent of the time,” Jeremy told me.

 

Having his phone on him 15 hours a day  is not uncommon for Jeremy. “I am rarely on a computer and it’s not that my mobile devices have completely replaced my computer because it is necessary, but it’s because I am on the go so much it makes sense to use my mobile devices to get things done rather than waiting until I get back home or wherever,” Jeremy said, adding with a chuckle “I spend almost no time in the office, almost to the dismay of my team.”

The Boutique Real Estate Group

Jeremy is a Realtor and CTO of The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, California.

However, just because Jeremy’s not in the office doesn’t mean he isn’t working, in fact he sees it as just the opposite. “I don’t believe that someone who’s always in the office is doing incredibly well, because the reality is business gets done everywhere but the office these days,” Jeremy said. He still prefers doing business “belly to belly” with his clients because after all real estate is a service-based business. Being mobile allows him to be more efficient with his time and proactive with his clients. “If I am driving my car and I get a call from my assistant, client or another agent who needs a specific document for a deal, I need to be able to access any document from the road at any given time,” Jeremy said. He added that it doesn’t matter if he is on vacation or on the golf course – he never has to tell a client he is too busy doing personal things to get back to them. “I don’t think those sort of answers are acceptable these days,” Jeremy said, adding it’s okay if he’s using his time for personal reasons because he can still get the job done and is not delaying transactions.

Boutique-Property

I asked Jeremy what sort of mobile tools he uses while on the go and he said he uses an iPhone, iPad and a stable of core apps that included Cartavi and DocuSign. He also said his group, The Boutique Real Estate Group, uses mobile forms that are tablet compatible and that he uses DocuSign Ink as a signing solution for his iPhone and PDF Expert for his iPad. He said PDF Expert allows him to write on the contract through his iPad to add additional terminology. He also uses MLS Touch, which allows him to access MLS listing at all times. Jeremy’s suite of mobile solutions is pretty impressive and allows him to do everything on the go, which is what I meant when I said “he really gets it!”

Jeremy does not just use technology to stay on the road though; he also uses it to get more business. He maintains a significant web presence and uses social media to market his offerings. “I think it is important that we have profiles on any place that a client is going, so if clients are going to Zillow then you need a presence on Zillow, if they are going to Realtor.com – then you need a presence there.”

Jeremy said most of the people in his group also have personal websites and are very searchable. His personal website is http://about.me/jeremylehman and came up immediately when I searched his name on Google.

Boutique-Property

Jeremy also said he is doing mostly listings now even though his business used to be more 50/50 buyers and sellers. “We are in an extreme sellers market,” Jeremy said. He also added that shifting business models’ is difficult but he has used the internet to establish himself and develop a steady stream of listings. “I guess it is marketing the whole negotiating dynamic, using technology, but also offering a high personal level of customer service,” Jeremy said. I asked Jeremy how he got into real estate and he said was actually working with a title company but a Senate bill would have gotten rid of the services that he offered so in 2007 he decided to get his real estate license and become an agent, and as he puts it, “I always sort of ‘got’ real estate.”

Jeremy is also very involved in leadership and serves on the Board of Directors at the Pacific West Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors. He is also a technology trainer and mentor, and occasionally does real estate technology workshops for Apple. He will tell you though, for as savvy as he is with technology, “I’m not nearly as technical as people think I am. I just sort of understand technology and how to use it.” Even though Jeremy has figured out how to use leverage technology to his advantage, he still prides himself on providing “likable” customer service, fast response times and doing a very professional job.

If you are thinking about listing a property in Orange County, just look-up ‘Jeremy Lehman’ and you’ll find him at his Personal WebsiteFacebookTwitterLinkedinTrulia,YourSoCalAgentInstagram… the list goes on and on. He is not hard to find, trust me.

Half of All Homes Are Being Purchased With Cash

 

52 Ovation, Irvine, Ca 92620

52 Ovation, Irvine, Ca 92620

 

Story Via WSJ Real Estate News

August 15th, 2013

More than half of all homes sold last year and so far in 2013 have been financed without a mortgage, according to an analysis by economists at Goldman Sachs Group.

The analysis estimates that around 20% of all homes sold before the housing crash were “all-cash” sales (or around 30% of sales by dollar volume). But over the past seven years, the all-cash share of sales has more than doubled, increasing by more than 30 percentage points, according to economists Hui Shan, Marty Young and Charlie Himmelberg.

The Goldman study analyzed home sales figures from the Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors and mortgage-origination data from the Mortgage Bankers Association and Lender Processing Services.

The surprisingly large cash-share of purchases helps to explain why home sales have jumped over the past two years despite more muted increases in broad measures of new mortgage activity, such as the MBA’s mortgage application index.

There’s no exact way to know who is responsible for all of these cash purchases, though they are likely to include some combination of investors, foreign buyers, and wealthy homeowners that don’t want to go through the hassle of getting a mortgage before closing on a sale. Mortgage lending standards have sharply tightened up since the housing bubble, with banks scrutinizing borrowers’ tax returns and bank statements to verify their incomes and the source of their down payment.

The Goldman analysis also estimates that around 44 cents of every $1 of homes sold currently is being financed, compared to 67 cents before the crisis.

Purchase-mortgage origination volumes have fallen from around $1.5 trillion in 2005, when the housing market peaked, to around $500 billion in each of the last two years.

While declines in the volume of homes being sold accounts for some of the decline, the Goldman economists estimate that around 40% of the decline is due to the drop-off in the amount of financing per home.

The Goldman analysis estimates that purchase-loan volumes will rise to around $750 billion next year and to $1.1 trillion by 2016.