Should I Stay or Should I Go? Why This Family Did Both

via Zillow by Catherine Sherman

When you’ve found “the one,” letting go can be tough. But the Mohammads stayed close to home.


It was their dream home: 4,300 square feet with sweeping views from Palos Verdes to Anaheim Hills. But in 2012, Steve and Yasminah Mohammad sold their Yorba Linda, CA house and bought another.

“Our tendency is to move somewhere every 5 to 7 years,” Steve said. After nearly 7 years at 4123 Dapple Gray Ln, they were ready to downsize.

“Financially, it didn’t make sense to have that big of a house at this time in our lives,” Yasminah said.

The couple used Zillow to see how much homes were going for in their neighborhood, and worked with Raj Qsar of The Boutique Real Estate Group to attract potential buyers.

“I liked his use of technology,” Steve said. “He came in and showed uMohammad-family-bda0d6-1024x768s what he does with everything on an iPad.”

Qsar made a video of the home and posted it on YouTube. He also staged the house using the Mohammads’ existing furniture, which ended up being a huge selling point.

“The buyers came in and they liked the way it was staged, so they purchased everything — including the furniture,” Steve explained.

The offer was too good to turn down. The Mohammads moved out with nothing but their clothes, pots and pans — and smiles on their faces.

“Selling all the furnishings was a clean slate,” Steve said. “My wife loves that. It was an opportunity to change her style.”

Like many, Yasminah’s tastes in home decor have changed over time. She doesn’t like homes that are too contemporary or too traditional, but rather prefers something in between.

“I take mental notes if I like something,” Yasminah said. “Putting it all together is a fun process.”

The couple ended up buying a house just one mile from their previous home.

“We wanted to stick around in Yorba Linda as much as possible,” Steve said. “That, for us, was huge.”

Even though they didn’t travel far, Yasminah has enjoyed making a new home.

“It’s [our] haven, where [we] come home and can put away [our] worries and just relax,” she said.

Summer Luxury: Fabulous Outdoor Fire Pits


Summer nights: the perfect time to enjoy outdoor entertaining by the fire. Whether you’re roasting marshmallows with the kids, or lounging fireside with friends, an outdoor fire pit is an enjoyable addition to any backyard or patio.

These gorgeous properties for our Leverage partners offer expansive outdoor spaces and luxurious fire pits, perfect for summer entertaining:

A Villa Like No Other
Represented by The Boutique Real Estate Group


The backyard of this private Southern California estate features a grand fireplace, custom built deck, and combination pool and spa.

Golf Course Views Surrounded by Trees
Represented by Madison & Company Properties, LTD.


Entertain guests outdoors on the large covered patio of this beautifully designed Colorado home, showcasing a fireplace and outdoor kitchen.

Elegant Living Near Santa Rosa Foothills
Represented by Tradition Properties


This warm and inviting La Quinta, CA home offers panoramic mountain vistas and a cozy fire pit to enjoy while watching the sunset.

442 Canterbury Hill St, Terrell Hills
Represented by NIX Realty Company


With walls saturated by designer colors, this San Antonio retreat highlights an outdoor living space that rivals any resort.

The Best of the Best
Represented by Central Coast Realty Group


Designed for entertaining, take advantage of the ample outdoor living space offered at this exquisite California residence.

Desert Mountain Splendor
Represented by Ventana Fine Properties


Take in breathtaking desert sunset views while keeping warm by the outdoor fire pits at this spectacular Scottsdale contemporary.

Magnificent Historic Ross Estate
Represented by Vanguard Properties


Nestled among the five buildings that make up this elegant masterpiece sits a natural fire pit, surrounded by redwoods and a meandering creek.

Contemporary Villa
Represented by Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage & Acquisitions


Welcome to an oasis overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where crashing waves and a grand fire pit create the quintessential Malibu beach environment.

Gracious Living Near the Park
Represented by Evers & Co. Real Estate


Enjoy a summer of barbequing and lounging outdoors at this lovely colonial, situated under a canopy of trees in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Which outdoor fire pit do you dream of having in your backyard this summer? Share your thoughts and leave your comments below.

6 Strategies to Kick Your Broker Marketing Into High Gear


It’s an exciting time to be a real estate broker. Once a relative wasteland, the technology marketplace for real estate is growing rapidly, with more beautiful and powerful solutions appearing every day. In an industry as diverse as real estate, this is obviously a good thing — but it’s not without its downsides.

With so many new technologies to learn and options to choose from, building the right online presence for your real estate business can create chaos not just for brokers, but also for the agents they manage and the clients they serve. Consequently, many real estate professionals feel like they’re working for their digital marketing solutions. Here are six strategies to help you flip the script for your brokerage:

1. Take the lead

In the past, broker-provided software left much to be desired, with outdated features and clunky, complicated interfaces. However, today there are dozens of terrific, team-oriented solutions for everything from CRM to social media, and agents want more of it. Last year, 45 percent of Realtors said they wanted more technology from their brokers.

Unfortunately, many brokers are failing to fill this demand, partly because they lack the experience and the knowledge to make informed choices in a growing market.

“There’s a battle for attention online,” said Raj Qsar, owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, California. “With so much noise, it’s difficult for the old-school leadership to find the right tools for their agents. So agents try to do it all themselves.” This fragmentation creates added challenges for brokers trying to coordinate their teams and market their brand consistently.

Instead, brokers need to take the lead in providing digital solutions for their teams, including websites, analytics, lead management, cloud storage and marketing automation. No matter your tech experience, this means you must be willing to take risks on software and strategies that might not turn out to be a fit for you and your business. You’ll learn what works by iterating on your technology, and, over time, you’ll build up a strong set of tools for your team.

2. Educate your agents

Tech adoption is higher than ever among real estate professionals — 91 percent of Realtors now use social media in their business — but that doesn’t mean agents have nothing to learn. To build an effective digital strategy, brokers need to provide their agents not only with the right software but also ample opportunities to get educated about it.

“Too many brokers don’t give their agents enough technology support,” said Scott Beaudry, broker-owner of Universal Realty in Las Vegas. “The average Realtor is 56. You just can’t give (technology) to somebody and expect them to learn how to use it.”

Furthermore, the education shouldn’t stop at a three-ring binder or even an online course — after all, no teacher has ever inspired students just by handing them a packet. To truly set agents up for success, brokers have to take a hands-on approach.

For instance, Beaudry does a one-on-one technology audit with every new agent on their first day. In addition, he also holds regular group workshops on Facebook, all while managing over 100 agents. By actively participating in your agents’ digital education, you’ll encourage accountability and show just how committed you are to their success.

Finally, it’s important to frame your agents’ education in terms of value. That is, it’s not just about learning the nuts and bolts of digital marketing tools — it’s about learning how those tools create value, both for agents and for the clients they serve.

3. Educate yourself

Your agents can’t do it all alone, but neither can you. That’s why you need to set aside time to educate yourself, particularly if you’re no longer “in the trenches.” Educating doesn’t mean taking one or two tech-oriented courses for your license upkeep.

“At the leadership level, you have to be absolutely entrenched in technology and continuously learn,” Beaudry said.

Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there to help brokers stay informed about digital marketing and tech for real estate. Start by following blogs such as Inman and Placester’s Real Estate Academy, as well as real estate podcasts such as The Water Cooler.

To stay on the cutting edge, you should also be attending conferences including Inman Connect and NAR’s Realtors Conference & Expo. Finally, build relationships with other brokers and agents who are using digital marketing effectively in their businesses. Share your knowledge and experience, and you’ll receive insight in return.

4. Use the right tool for the job

“You must incorporate the digital component because people have come to expect it,” said Nick Segal, president at Partners Trust in Los Angeles. “The question is how to do it artfully.”

Many brokers try to answer this question by maintaining a presence on all the popular tools and networks. But marketing successfully online isn’t about being everywhere at once: It’s about choosing the right tools for telling the right story to the right audience.

When considering a tool or channel to market your brokerage, don’t just choose the biggest or cheapest option. Instead, ask yourself how and whether it will help you promote your brand. For example, Partners Trust has invested in video marketing to not only enrich its listings, but also help agents connect with consumers. “All of our associates do short videos that warm the waters and help them build trust with people who have never met them,” said Partners Trust VP of Marketing Audie Chamberlain.

Nevertheless, what works for Partners Trust might not necessarily fit your brokerage or your audience. Before you dive into your digital investment, spend some time thinking about your positioning in the marketplace: who your customers are and why they choose you over your competitors. Then, use this information to find tools that will best communicate that value. “You’ve got to play to your strengths,” Segal said. “Video is a scalable component, just as Instagram is a scalable component. I think technology just scales a message.”

5. Collaborate and listen

Visionaries including Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have developed a cultlike following in business circles. But the truth is a certain group of people are central to the success of every great company — people who believe in and contribute to its overall mission. A great digital culture doesn’t flow in one direction — it’s a collaborative effort, one that requires input from the whole team.

“As an agent, you want training, you want experience, but you don’t want to be controlled,” said Sean Wiegert, Realtor at Circa Properties in St. Louis.

Instead of imposing digital tools and policies on your agents, offer them a seat at the table. Encourage questions, suggestions and experimentation. By getting buy-in from the start, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and trouble — but more than that, you’ll foster a culture of digital collaboration, with agents working together to achieve more and better results.

“Our company was founded on the spirit of collaboration,” Chamberlain said. “All of this technology just amplifies our opportunities to collaborate.”

6. Recruit wisely

We might be a culture that increasingly values instant gratification, but make no mistake: Digital marketing is a long-term strategy. To be successful, you need to assemble a team that will continue to push and improve that strategy in the years ahead. That means actively recruiting agents whose digital priorities and presence line up with your own.

To attract great talent, you first need to see yourself and your brokerage from your prospects’ point of view.

“Agents today should be looking for a brokerage that’s heavily invested in tech, online and creativity,” Qsar said. With that in mind, start by searching for your brokerage on Google — not just by name, but by the geographic areas you serve. What results come up? Do they paint a positive or negative online picture of your business? Is this a brokerage stuck in the traditional past, or is it a brokerage that values growth and innovation?

The flip side, of course, is that you should be looking for agents committed to embracing technology as much as you are. “I interviewed someone recently who basically had no online presence,” Qsar said. “That agent may do good business, but they’re just not the right fit for us and what we’re trying to do.”

Look for applicants who not only have a website and profiles on major social networks, but are actively promoting and using those tools to engage with consumers.

Finally, at the end of the day, brokers should recruit with integrity top of mind. “Younger people entering this business don’t have bad (technology) habits, but they’re impressionable,” Nick Segal said. “And when you consider the amounts of money we’re talking about, it’s very easy to be seduced by those dollar signs and do whatever it takes to achieve a result.”

As you build a team to carry out your digital strategy, don’t forget your ultimate goal: to give your clients an amazing experience, both online and in person.

Luxurious Outdoor Grilling Spaces Perfect for Summertime

Summer is quickly approaching, and we all know what that means… it’s grilling season! What better way to celebrate and soak up the sunshine than by hosting a fabulous outdoor soirée for your friends and family.

Fire up a feast and kick off summer in style, with these luxurious outdoor grilling spaces from some of our Leverage Global Partners:

Amazing Property & Avocado Grove
Represented by Central Coast Realty Group


Situated on over 4.5 acres, this gorgeous property boasts ample room for entertaining and an avocado orchard in Arroyo Grande, CA.

May We Suggest Reservations?
Represented by The Boutique Real Estate Group


This is the perfect Southern California house to spend the weekend swimming in a resort-style pool and barbequing your favorite meal.

One Madison Condo
Represented by CORE


This chic New York City home has a landscaped 2,413-square-foot wrap terrace, delivering unparalleled private space for entertaining.

Villa Esplendora
Represented by Timothy Real Estate Group


Take in sunset and ocean views while grilling on the patio or swimming in your private infinity pool at this waterfront location.

Modern Home North of Montana
Represented by Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage & Acquisitions


Designed with ecological conscience, the open floor plan of this entertainer’s dream home is perfect for indoor/outdoor living.

Prestigious Gated Alamo Highlands
Represented by J. Rockcliff Realtors


This spectacular custom home offers a beautifully landscaped yard, multiple patio areas, and a gourmet outdoor kitchen for the whole family to enjoy.

Corner Single Family Townhouse
Represented by Sprogis & Neale Real Estate


Tucked away in a historic 19th century Boston neighborhood, this newly renovated townhome features a back patio oasis with a built-in outdoor kitchen.

Gorgeous Equestrian Estate
Represented by Ascent Real Estate


With wonderful design and detail, this San Diego equestrian estate offers a luxurious backyard featuring a pool and outdoor kitchen area.

Which outdoor grilling space do you dream of having outside your home? Share your thoughts and leave your comments below.

Cadillac + The Lime Truck + The Boutique Real Estate Group

The Boutique Real Estate Group + Cadillac + The Lime Food Truck // Thursday May 7th from 12-2pm.


The Boutique Real Estate Group is excited to welcome Southern California Cadillac and The Lime Truck to our headquarters in Corona del Mar.  Stop by for a test drive, good food and amazing people.

Thursday, May 7th from 12 pm to 2 pm.
3653 E. Coast Hwy. Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Are Drones the Next Big Thing in Real Estate?

via RISMedia

Earlier this month, published a new report about the FAA’S updated regulations on the use of drones in real estate marketing, and that brought about one of the most interesting debates among agents and brokers we’ve ever seen.

To help put the issue into perspective, welcomed Raj Qsar, principal of the Boutique Real Estate Group, Corona del Mar, Calif., to a special podcast to discuss his experiences with using drones to capture images for his real estate business.

During the podcast, Qsar spoke about how his company originally owned two user-friendly DJI drones equiped with GoPro cameras, which he used to capture outstanding aerial footage. However, he had to turn the flying over to someone else due to the ever-changing operating guidelines, expensive liability issues and high equipment costs.

“It’s kind of like the wild, wild West with real estate and drones right now, and it’s hard to manage and regulate and all that,” he says. “We have been subbing it out to a very local, super high-end drone pilot here in Southern California.”

When he first started, Qsar says the drone was under the firm’s liability insurance, but it’s no longer necessary since he is outsourcing the flying to a company who uses a more advanced DJI-Inspire 1.

The benefits of using drones for real estate, he believes, include giving a bird’s eye feel to a property, and seperating it from others on the market.

“It’s all about trying to connect that potential buyer to the property someway, somehow, through a story, and one way to do that is with aerial photography and drone videography,” Qsar says.

One example he gives is a recent estate home in a gated Irvine neighborhood that was in his portfolio. At 4,300 square, the 6-bedroom, 4-bath luxury home had a pool, grotto and was part of an amenity-rich neighborhood. By using a drone to shoot aerial footage, he was able to offer potential buyers a true glimpse of what the neighborhood looked like-complete with its walking trails, athletic courts, baseball field, etc.

“With traditional video, you would never see it all,” Qsar says. “By adding in a car going through the front gate and the flying over with views of the community pools, basketball courts and trails, it gives an overall look and feel to the entire neighborhood.”

Qsar believes that using drones, along with traditional video marketing, can help move properties faster than homes that are listed without this new video marketing technology.

According to Qsar, you don’t need a pilot’s license to operate a commercial drone, but you can’t legally do it for real estate anymore. Keeping up with the rules, he admits, can be challenging.

“There are various sites such as DJI with up-to-date rules on their website and there’s also a direct feed for iPad minis and monitors to communicate directly with pilots,” Qsar says.

For his videos, Qsar likes to add music and make it feel more like a movie, even playing with the aspect ratio to add to a “cinematic look.”

Qsar says there’s no easy way to define the cost of using drones, but he feels that for an agent who wants to be on top, it’s going to cost more not to do it than to do it.

“What I try to do is preach for agents to stop thinking about ‘real’ real estate agents because all they think about is cost and that will be a barrier for anything that has the word luxury attached to it,” he says. “It’s going to cost you more not to do this stuff in the long run than it will to put the money up front. Video is not going away, but those agents who aren’t using it, will be.” Sits Down with Raj Qsar to Discuss the Nitty-Gritty on Drones

via’s Secrets of Top Selling Agents is rolling out a new podcast series of “unplugged” interviews with some of the heaviest hitters in real estate who have not only found their niche, but are dominating in it. A few weeks back, we published an article regarding the FAA’s new regulations on using drones for real estate. The response was huge, making it quite clear that this is a hot topic among agents and brokers.

After this, we knew it was time to sit down with Raj Qsar, a seasoned pro at using video for real estate, to get more insight into this new technology. Head over to Raj’s website,, to see some of his amazing video content and to get a better idea of why there is no better person to fill in the information gaps about using drones to market your listings! Here’s just a little recap of our sit down with Raj:

According to Raj, there’s A LOT that goes into being able to legally fly a drone for real estate. He says that he operated the drones himself when they first became popular and that his company owned 2 DIJI drones (the most user-friendly) that were equipped with GoPro cameras to capture aerial footage. But between the strict and continually changing operating guidelines, expensive liability issues and high costs of equipment, he now hires a company with a lot of experience to do the filming for him.

After traveling across the country and internationally for real estate events, Raj has found that cost has become an agent’s biggest concern when it comes to using drones and video. His response to this was simple, “It’s going to cost you more not to do this stuff in the long run than it will to put the money up front.” He states that agents need to recognize that instead of trying to reduce costs by keeping the use of drones “in-house,” they should invest in someone who specializes in this area. The properties that his team lists using video tend to move faster compared to the rest of the market. This is why he can’t stress enough that agents who invest more money in marketing will ultimately see their listings sell more often and at a faster rate than those who don’t.

These were just a few of the highlights from this exciting interview, so be sure to tune in for the full podcast! Head over to the Secrets of Top Selling Agents website to find even more educational sessions like this.

Raj Qsar: How The Boutique Real Estate Group Are Leading The Way With Video

via Josh Cobb of Stepps   Raj Qsar, principal and owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, joins Real Estate Pros to discuss How The Boutique Real Estate Group Are Leading The Way With Video. Raj shares his journey in real estate and what it’s like selling high-end luxury homes in some of the world’s most stunning locations.

Show Notes

From amazing photography, video and film production, 360-degree HD v-tours, interior design and staging, custom graphics and design, complete social media engagement and search engine optimisation, The Boutique Real Estate Group do marketing the way it should be done. With more than 18 years of sales, marketing and leadership experience, Raj Qsar has achieved this outstanding level of production as a result of his unsurpassed commitment for providing superior representation to his clients. Most recently, Raj was nominated for an Innovator Award for Most Innovative Real Estate Agent in 2014 by Inman News. He was also named Top 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders For 2013 By Inman News, and The Boutique Real Estate Group was recently selected as The 2014 Next Generation Real Estate Brokerage by Better Homes & Garden Real Estate & 1000 Watt Consulting. Their 2013 video called #goodbyehello was named Top 20 Real Estate Videos in the USA. As a national and international speaker, Raj travels the world educating real estate professionals on the value of technology and social media. As a highly sought after speaker, Raj has taken the stage at some of the most prestigious real estate conferences across the country and he continues to make his mark in today’s ever-changing real estate market. Join us in this episode of Real Estate Pros as Raj takes us on a journey inside The Boutique Real Estate Group and their commitment to best-in-class marketing and sales.

Fast Five

Who has been an inspiration to you throughout your career?
“Jesus Christ, my personal lord and saviour.”
What are your favourite things in the world to do when you’re not at the office?
“That’s an easy one. I’m a dad with three beautiful kids and a wife, so getting off the grid and spending time with my family without my phone in my hand.”
What is your favourite business book?
The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive – By Patrick Lencioni.”
What is your favourite technology resource you use daily to help you run a better business? “I literally couldn’t live without my iPhone.”
What is ‘one thing’ that prevents people in real estate from achieving success and what would your advice be to overcome it?
“Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find people who are strong where you’re weak, team up with partnered professionals and just focus on being consistent at your one strategy.”

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Real Estate Pros podcast, please head over to iTunes, leave us a review and subscribe. If you have any feedback for us on how we can improve we would love to hear from you because this show is all about helping you, the real estate pro. Please email us at

About Josh Cobb

Josh is a digital marketing strategist and the founder of Stepps: A digital marketing company focused on real estate. He works one-on-one with people in the business of real estate to help them better compete for brand awareness, improve the growth and retention of their clients and help them understand and profit from social media and content marketing. Josh also hosts the weekly Real Estate Pros podcast where he interviews today’s most inspiring and successful real estate pros and industry experts from around Australia and across the world.

5 Insanely Creative Ways People Have Used to Sell Houses

via Mashable

The Boutique Real Estate Group has been Highlight by Mashable in the article 5 Insanely Creative Ways People Have Used to Sell Houses.

In the future, selling houses might be less about realtors and more about video creators. While traditional open houses and “for sale” signs aren’t going away anytime soon, in years to come it could be a viral video that gets a buyer to sign on the dotted line.

Straightforward video tours have been around for some years, but we’ve gone beyond that and taken a look at five fabulously creative ways people have used video to sell property around the world, from music videos to high-tech drones via 3D fly-throughs.


Plain video house tours are all well and good, but what if instead of a dry, room-by-room tour around a property, you used the video to tell a story and sell a lifestyle?

The Boutique Real Estate Group is very good at this, producing a series of glossy ads for houses that engage you with a simple plot device, making them much more interesting than the average tour.

In this example, seeing the kids run through the beautiful rooms as they find a suitable cubbyhole for a game of hide-and-seek is just a genius way to show the home’s family-friendly, attractive living spaces.