How did Raj Qsar harness social media to position The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County? In episode 16 of Recovery, Raj Qsar joins Alain Kapatashungu to talk about the state of the real estate market in Orange County as well as the opportunity that remains to be met. Qsar leads The Boutique Real Estate Group, a boutique real estate brokerage founded in Orange County, CA, that focuses on design, marketing & luxury services. The Boutique has created a culture that spurs collaboration, making Raj Qsar one of the most creative agents in the residential real estate industry, Raj Qsar’s success comes from his early understanding of social media trends and technology. The Boutique Real Estate Group was awarded the following recent awards:
2020 Top Real Estate Brokerage on Social Media
2019 Real Estate Video Influencer Award
2018 Real Estate Video Influencer Award
2018 Top 30 Real Estate Brokerages on Social Media
2018 Overall Winner Pitchfest Best Listing Presentation
2017 The Real Estate Influencer of The Year by Inman News
The owner and CEO of The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County has seen a significant shift in buyer attitudes since the onset of the pandemic
This spring has been an exceptionally tumultuous one for the luxury market — a pandemic, an initial fear of a market crash and, later, a boom of affluent buyers looking to spend big money on homes in places like Orange County and the Hamptons.
Raj Qsar, the owner and CEO of The Boutique Real Estate Group, has been at the forefront of that ride through the unknown. His brokerage, which works with homes from $2 million to upwards of $10 million in Orange County, California, has seen a direct shift in buyer attitudes — from fear and hesitation when the pandemic first hit in March to a present-day focus on finding a home that can be a long-term source of shelter and enjoyment. Money is going toward not just primary and vacation home markets but also home improvements aimed at making a home a personal haven.
“Many dual-income millennials who are making decent money have really changed their perspective,” Qsar told Inman, adding that size and amenities are the hottest trends in real estate. “You can see a definite mindset shift. They’re really coming in and not buying that tiny shack with room for one bed. They want a single-family home with a front yard and a backyard.”
We’ve interviewed Qsar about what his buyers are asking for and how that could shape the future of luxury real estate for years to come.
Inman News: What’s been happening in the Orange County luxury world during the last few weeks?
Raj Qsar: We’ve definitely seen a change in the luxury market. You could even say it’s on fire. It’s picked up a lot, at all price points — $1-$5M, $5-$10M and $10M and up. Buyers and sellers are definitely both in the market. There was a pause at the beginning of the virus just because no one knew what was going to happen. The last two weeks of March were definitely interesting but then things slowly started picking up. In the blink of an eye, the market was back. It’s now the strongest it’s ever been, really.
Is that due to pent-up demand, springtime buyer interest or a combination of both?
We keep hearing about pent-up demand from every news channel. I think there’s a little bit of truth to that but I think that people also, after going through what the country went through and spending so much time locked up inside, just want a nice place. Home offices were gone and now everyone wants a home office again. They’re working from home and want a place to be when the kids are all over. The secondary housing market is strong too because people want a place that they can escape to.
So the initial fear of the pandemic prompting a housing crash has been far from your experience?
That’s right. They’ve been saying that the market is going to crash and that we’re going to go into a recession for the last four or five years. The exact opposite is happening, actually. The market is stronger than ever, and people want to spend money on real estate. The first couple of weeks were a little bit scary, but I really do feel like people want to spend and they want to spend it on their house.
What are some other things that luxury buyers are asking you about?
Pools are back in, outdoor kitchens, outdoor barbecues — anything outdoors. People are putting money into their homes, upgrading with really nice high-end appliances, things like that. Owners want to love their house and everything about it. A lot of stuff that was being put off, like adding another bedroom or bathroom, is back. People are doing whatever they wanted to do.
You’ve observed a big change in buyer priorities?
Yes. Many dual-income millennials who are making decent money have really changed their perspective. You can see a definite mindset shift. They’re really coming in and not buying that tiny shack with room for one bed. They want a single-family home with a front yard and a backyard. All the stuff that wasn’t important has become important again.
Could these buyer preferences alter how future houses are built for years to come?
I think so. There’s definitely a shift in the whole indoor/outdoor space. People want the inside to feel like the outside and the outside to feel like the inside. Living rooms, cabanas, TVs — the stuff that we’re seeing right now is jaw-dropping. The stuff people are doing to their houses, it’s like going to a beach party in Vegas. We’re just a few months into the virus, but the aftermath of it is going to be years and years. People are always going to remember 2020 and being locked up at home. That will influence what they want in their homes.
Raj Qsar and Rachel Holder join Chris Smith & Jimmy Mackin on their latest #WaterCooler roundtable discussion, as they discuss the specific tactics and strategies they are using to navigate “the new normal.”
The best agents are focusing on how to market, sell, and recruit during these unprecedented times. Find out exactly what they are doing day in and day out to stay productive and keep their teams motivated.
On May 7, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom released updated industry guidance to begin reopening with modifications that reduce risk and establish a safer environment for workers and customers. Please see information below per covid19.ca.gov
Californians have been staying home and saving lives since the start of our statewide stay-at-home order issued on March 19, 2020. These efforts have allowed the state to move forward on a roadmap for modifying the statewide order.
We are now in early Stage 2, where retail (curbside and delivery only), related logistics and manufacturing and essential businesses can open. The state is issuing guidance to help these workplaces reopen safely.
When modifications are advanced and the state’s six indicators show we’ve made enough progress, we can move to the next stage of the roadmap.
Stage 2 expansion will be phased in gradually. Some communities may move through Stage 2 faster if they are able to show greater progress. Counties that have met the readiness criteria and worked with the California Department of Public Health can open more workplaces as outlined on the County Variance page.
Industry guidance to reduce the risk
California moved into Stage 2 of modifying the state’s Stay-at-Home order on May 8, 2020. Our progress in achieving key public health metrics will allow a gradual re-opening of California’s economy.
We recognize the impact of economic hardship. We must get our economy roaring once again and put paychecks in people’s pockets. But the risk of COVID-19 infection is still real for all Californians and continues to be fatal.
That is why every business should take every step humanly possible to reduce the risk of infection:
Plan and prepare for re-opening
Make radical changes within the workplace
Adjust practices by employees and help educate customers
Below are Guidelines for businesses to follow, if they’re permitted to open. The goal is a safer, environment for workers and customers. Businesses may use effective alternative or innovative methods to build upon the Guidelines.
Review the guidance that is relevant to your workplace, prepare a plan based on the guidance for your industry, and put it into action.
Before reopening, all facilities must:
Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
As stay at home orders are modified, it is essential that all possible steps be taken to ensure the safety of workers and the public.
This guideline is intended to help people involved in real estate transactions implement their plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and is summarized from the Guidance for Real Estate Transactions. This summary contains excepts from the full document, referenced above.
This document provides guidance for businesses operating in the real estate industry including sales and rentals of single-family, multi-family, apartment, commercial, and industrial properties to support a safe, clean environment for workers. The guidance is not intended to revoke or repal any employee rights, either statutory, regulatory or collectively bargained, and is not exhaustive, as it does not include county health orders, not is it a substitute for any existing safety and health related regulatory requirements such as those of Cal/OSHA. Stay current on changes to public health guidance and state/local orders, as the COVID-19 situation continues. Cal/OSHA Interim General Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19 webpage. CDC has additional requirements in their guidance for businesses and employers.
Worksite Specific Plan
Establish a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas, and designate a person at each facility to implement the plan.
Identify contact information for the local health department where the facility is located for communication information about COVID-19 outbreaks among employees.
Train and communicate with employee representatives on the plan.
Regularly evaluate the workplace for compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
Investigate any COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to risk of infection. Update the plan as needed to prevent further cases.
Identify close contacts (within six feet for 10 minutes or more) of an infected employee and take steps to isolate COVID-19 positive employee(s) and close contacts.
Adhere to the guidelines below. Failure to do so could result in workplace illnesses that may cause operations to be temporarily closed or limited.
Shown Properties Specific Plan
Establish a written COVID-19 prevention plan to be followed by agents who show properties. Display a set of rules for agents and home viewers at the entrance of the property that are to be a condition of entry. The rules must include instructions to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. It must include instructions to maintain physical distancing and avoid touching surfaces of the shown property. The rules or a link to the rules should be part of online public and MLS listings. Posted rules show be clearly visible and include pictograms.
Real estate and rental agents must confirm understanding of the rules with visitors before showing the propetty and provide a digital copy of the COVID-19 prevention plan to clients, appraisers, inspectors, stagers, purchasing agents and contractors and obtain their agreement to follow the plan prior to enterting the property.
Regularly evaluate compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols for Shown Properties
Thoroughly clean shown properties and disinfect commonly used surfaces including counters, door and cabinet handles, key lock boxes, keypads, toilets, sinks, light switches, etc. These surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each showing.
During a showing, introduce fresh outside air, for example by opening doors/windows and operating ventilation systems.
Instruct employees to wipe down and disinfect equipment that passes between employees and customers, including clipboards and keys, after each use.
Provide time for workers to implement cleaning practices before and after shifts. If cleaning is assigned to the worker, they must be compensated for that time.
Equip shown properties with proper sanitation products, including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for use by employees and clients.
Provide and strongly recommend clients, real estate licensees, and inspectors to use face coverings and hand sanitizer. Place these items at the property entrance so that people can put them on before entering. Ensure disposable covers are properly discarded after use, for example in a tras bag that is sealed prior to disposal.
All people entering a property, including agents, brokers, inspectors, and clients, must wash hands with soap and water immediately upon entry and before touring or inspecting the property, or use hand sanitizer when handwashing facilities are not available.
Adjust or modify showings to provide adequate time for regular deep cleaning and disinfecting. If the property is currently occupied, ensure adequate time to disinfect after occupants leave for showings and before and after clients view the property.
Physical Distancing Guidelines for Shown Properties
Discontinue holding open houses and showings open to the general public on a walk-in basis; use an appointment or digital sign-in process to control the number of people in the house or property.
Ensure current occupants are away from property during showings, consistent with their legal rights.
Utilize virtual tours in lieu of open houses via digital technologies, social media, etc. in lieu of property showings whenever possible. If virtual tours are not feasible, limit the number of people present during showings. When a real estate licensee or renter is present, maintain physical distance at all times.
Employees and/or contractors must open doorways or other areas of ingress or egress prior to in-person property showings to minimize clients touching surfaces.
Real estate licensees should remind clients to maintain physical distancing during showings and refrain from touching handles, switches, pulls, etc.
All persons on property for in-person showings should avoid touching knobs, faucets, toilets and toilet handles, light switches, garage door opener buttons, handles and pulls, alarm system controls, fan pulls, remotes, thermostats, switch boxes, gates and gate latches, window locks and sashes, pool coverings, and other such items.
Prior to and concluding in-person showings, real estate licensees must disinfect mobility and safety fixtures on the property such as handrails and banisters.
All home inspectors and prospective homebuyers who accompany the inspectors should use face coverings while performing on-property inspections. Home inspectors must have access to and utilize soap and hand sanitizer.
All information must be delivered electronically. Discontinue providing handouts or other types of promotional or informational materials.
An updated Spanish Revival-style estate in Fullerton, once owned by Bridgford Foods Corp. founder Hugh H. Bridgford, has hit the market for $3.5 million.
Currently, it’s the highest-priced home listing on the Multiple Listing Service in the city.
The 5,329-square-foot residence on more than a half-acre lot has five en-suite bedrooms, a media room and a rooftop viewing deck.
Constructed in 1927 and completely remodeled from 2013-15, the home at 401 Cannon Lane retains the look of the era at the same time that it takes a more modern turn. In one direction sits the living room, which features an original Markoff tile fireplace and a parabolic window. Its shape mirrors the arched doorways found throughout the house.
Other interior features include a formal dining room, family room and large, eat-in kitchen, which boasts Wolf, Sub-Zero and Miele appliances and such designer finishes as Calacatta Gold marble and leathered granite.
There’s also a private office on the ground floor.
The house has two staircases.
Up the grand rotunda entryway’s spiral wrought iron staircase with inlaid Hispano-Moresque Spanish tiles are all but one of the bedrooms, including the 800-square-foot master retreat. It boasts dual Monterey balconies, a walk-in closet and a morning kitchen with a Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerator as well as a spa-like master bathroom with a freestanding tub and a steam shower with multiple heads.
In the backyard, there’s a saltwater swimming pool with zero-edge spa, an outdoor kitchen with a DCS grill, a courtyard and spacious patios, including one near a 12-foot fireplace.
The grounds also boast an expansive lawn and mature trees.
A state-of-the-art Russound sound system, solar power and whole-home Lutron lighting round out the listing.
Raj Qsar and Christina Boladian of The Boutique Real Estate Group hold the listing.
Bridgford, who died in 1992 at age 83, grew his foods brand from a Depression-era butcher shop he opened in San Diego.
The company, headquartered in Anaheim since 1943, specializes in frozen and refrigerated food products, from ready-to-bake bread to sliced salami.
Normally, spring in Southern California is an excellent time to list your home for sale.
It’s the time of year when people are ready for a new beginning and planning big life changes.
Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to government orders that range from social distancing to sheltering in place, which has changed life as we know it. When the streets are empty and you haven’t even seen your neighbors in weeks, a big question for would-be sellers remains: Should I even bother to list my house for sale? Here are the pros and cons to consider in these unusual times.
Pro:Right now, homes are STILL ACTUALLY SELLING in all parts of Southern California.
And…they are still selling near, at, or above asking price for many price ranges. Even with showing restrictions in place and virtual open houses flooding the internet, buyers are making legitimate offers and moving forward. We are still poised to help sellers navigate these interesting times.
Pro:Right now, homes are mortgage rates are very low.
In an effort to stimulate the economy, mortgage rates have dropped to new lows — and they could fall even more in the coming weeks. This is good news for potential buyers who were on the hunt before the pandemic hit and might help them continue to feel confident about a home purchase. For sellers, this also could mean that the buyers who do make offers are the most serious about making a purchase. Looking for an amazing lender to assist you? Click Here
Pro: There’s more certainty now than there is about the future.
Economic reports are enough to make anyone feel anxious. However, what we know right now is that there’s a stimulus package coming, many are still working (albeit remotely) and that social distancing measures will be in place for at least the next month or so. Things could get better, or they could get worse and lead to further restrictions. Delaying your home sale runs the risk of potentially missing the window and ending up having to list when the market is down.
Pro:Open Houses Are Available Virtually.
Virtual showings may be a great option for sellers and buyers who are serious about social distancing. An excellent agent will be able to make your home’s virtual presence as compelling as it is in-person. Whether it’s via FaceTime, a 3D virtual tour, or a Facebook Watch Party, a virtual open house may just be the perfect answer to showing off your home during the COVID19 crisis. Not only is it a safer option during this time, but it can also be more convenient for those not being able to make the short window that traditional open houses typically offer.
Con:You’ll have to find a new place to live.
You’ll have the same issues facing your potential buyer, because you’ll be a potential buyer, too. Even if you do line up a new home, there are possible delays that might necessitate temporary housing (renting an Airbnb, seasonal home, or a short-term rental if you’re even able to) which was much easier to find pre-COVID than it will be right now. Then, there are the actual practical considerations of moving: Will there be movers available to help you out? Will you be able to easily shop for moving supplies (especially if there are travel curfews in place, or if home improvement stores experience delivery delays)? However, there is a silver lining: Some rental owners may be inclined to offer significant rental discounts as their short and long term incomes have also been affected.
Potential Con:Mortgage guidelines are changing more than ever right now
With some of the potential uncertainty in the market, banks and mortgage brokers and their institutions are possibly changing approval guidelines for purchasers. What does this mean for you? This means you’ll need to be sure to vet the buyer and the lender on your transaction to ensure that no delays occur for your transaction.
The bottom line is that putting your home on the market right now is a calculated risk where the need to sell outweighs any anxiety you may feel about how COVID is affecting the market. With an experienced agent, you can find creative ways to keep your home sale running smoothly (and safely, observing all precautions).
While we tried to cover the big pros and cons of listing your home during the COVID-19 pandemic… There might be info relevant to our market that can further affect your potential sale. Whether you need a sounding board or advice on how the market is adapting in real-time, we are here to listen to any and all of your concerns.
Give us a call at 714-482-6362 or email us at Info@TheBoutiqueRE.com
Our team at The Boutique Real Estate Group has been collecting data and information from the California Association of Realtors (CAR), and will continue to update our reports to help our clients and community better understand the impact of COVID-19 on a statewide and county level.
Statewide, existing, single-family home sales totaled 373,070 in March on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, down 11.5 percent from February and down 6.1 percent from March 2019.
Despite a dip in housing demand, the statewide median price rose from both the previous month and previous year. March’s statewide median home price was $612,440, surging past the $600,000 benchmark for the first time in three months, moving up 5.6 percent from February and up 8.3 percent from March 2019.
The statewide Unsold Inventory Index was 2.7 months in March, down from 3.6 months in February and from 3.6 months in March 2019, making it the lowest inventory level in three months.
*The index indicates the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current rate of sales.
OC at a glance: March 2020
In Orange County, the median sales price of existing single family homes in March 2020 was $882,000 increasing 0.2 percent from $880,000 in February 2020 and 9 percent from $809,500 in March 2019.
Gains in house sales for individual counties, which had been at or near double digits in February, also did an about-face in March. Orange County posted a 1.6% sales gain, compared with a 34.7% increase in February.
A flush-mount fireplace warms the living room, which opens to the formal dining area with its multiple Edison bulb chandelier.
There’s also a breakfast room.
Other interior features include a billiards room, a 13-person home theater and a 1,200-bottle wine room.
The spacious master suite boasts his and hers walk-in closets and a spa-like bathroom with a large shower and a separate sunken tub. Floor-to-ceiling windows slide away and pocket into the walls to offer access to the zero-edge infinity swimming pool flanked by two glass-tiled fire pits in the backyard.
Now is the time to get working on what you’ve always wanted to accomplish for your business. You don’t have to sit idle during this time, rather this is the time for you to get on the offense so you can be ahead of the game when the market returns. Watch Raj Qsar as he shows you how to navigate during this difficult time and cultivate more business for the near future.