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.
With so much panic and uncertainty in the world today, I figured there was no better person to interview for this week’s 10 Questions series than my good friend, Raj Qsar. Raj is the owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group based in Orange County, CA. Not only is Raj one of the leading minds in real estate innovation, but he’s not too proud to share everything he knows with the industry he loves to challenge us all to find new ways of doing things. His marketing is a step above the rest (just check out one of his videos) and when it comes to just about anything – I know Raj not only has everyone’s best interests at heart but delivers with a laugh and a smile. Get to know more about Raj here.
With a new “smart” something coming out almost every day, what products amaze and astound you?
I am pretty sure you know my answer to this… TikTok. It is not just a dancing app where you are being silly. It truly is addictive. And the skills an individual can learn from mastering the app will carry on for years to come. What you can simply do on TikTok used to take a team of five people to pull off 5 years ago. It also gives you some insight into what is trending and relevant in today’s world.
With a million things happening at any one moment, how do you manage your time?
I am a huge believer in having a schedule and time-blocking chunks of the day. My routine is pretty much the same everyday (for work and my personal life). The details of what I am doing may change, just like a real estate transaction, but the core is the same.
What is something you’re really proud of? Why?
Probably the fact that back in 2008 I decided to take a leap and shoot a video. And not just a video but an actual movie on a listing. This was back before any of us knew how to shoot video on anything. I wanted to be different. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to give our clients the best chance of success on selling their home (which they tried to do several times before they met me). We had no idea of what we were doing or how to cut or edit the video but it was one of the most critical “ah ha” moments in my real estate career.
What’s the best and worst thing about getting older?
Worst – The fact that you are getting older and realizing that you can not control time. Best – You truly realize who your tribe is over time. The people that stick with you, love you no matter what and want to do time with you. You also realize that life is full of moments with people (not things). And every moment is what you make of it and is irreplaceable.
How do you relax? Ever since I was a kid I have loved the ocean. I am not sure why because my parents really do not love the water. I mean my Mom does not know how to swim? But at an early age, they got us all into swim lessons and started taking us to the beach. In Orange County, I love to relax (in the afternoon) on any beach and watch the sunset.
What kind of projects would you like to do more of? I think there is a huge need in our industry for true camaraderie, especially in leadership. CEO’s helping CEO’s navigate the waters we sail every day. Our industry is so complex and slammed with “what if’s” that it can sometimes be difficult to have a standard way of doing things. So to answer the question, I would love to be able to reach out to more CEO’s and give my time and see where I can assist and have a CEO sounding board where you can throw stuff and see if it sticks.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? As you know I went to medical school. So pretty much from college on that’s what I wanted to do, but life does take some interesting turns. I found out by going to medical school it truly was not my calling. It’s a long story on how I eventually landed in real estate but, for now, it is where I belong.
Why do you believe having mentors is so important? Sometimes I think the world puts people in front of you for a reason. There are some really good people out there and these are the folks you need to cling to. When starting a business there are people who have run your race and finished the course and are willing to share their experience with you. Whether they take on the role of “mentor” or simply “friend” it is these opportunities that make you and your business better. No one business person has all the answers, it is humanly impossible.
What gets you fired up/energized? It has become a trend that most people in our industry will do the least amount of work possible, put in the least amount of time and try to have the biggest rewards. Our team has become know in Orange County as the cleanup kids (and we are not kids anymore). But basically, when a listing does not sell due to over promises and under delivery, we get the call. This is not a business where your brothers, daughters, next-door neighbors dog sitter who just got licensed should be navigating the sale of someone’s most valuable asset should come into place to save x%. So coming into a listing that has not sold, charging the same amount and delighting our clients is what gets me the most fired up. We recently took a listing that had been listed 5x by 5 of the top brokers in Orange County and we sold it for full price. We truly care and every single listing matters.
First of all, we want to send our support & love during these uncertain times. The global COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most difficult scenarios we’ve had to face as a company, industry, and community. When I started The Boutique, my dream was to develop a culture where everyone is considered family. My intention in doing so was to create something better, not only for our agents, staff, and clients but for our industry as a whole. This dream remains our companies driving force as we move forward each & every day.
To our most valued clients, please know that during this time, we will continue to serve you with support, knowledge, and care. Now more than ever, The Boutique family will come together to communicate and collaborate, as we work safely on your behalf.
Our agents will remain available, providing online and video conversations, live streaming property tours and sharing updates on all our social media channels. We work in a completely digital office and can manage all documents online. We will pick up food for you, grab groceries for you, drop off medicine for you or just simply call you to check-in. We will continue to monitor the guidelines set forth by our local, state and national governments, as well as our real estate industry associations.
We are here to help & support you in every way possible and are committed to providing you with the utmost service and guidance moving forward.
On behalf of The Boutique family, we send our love, prayers and best wishes for the health of you and your loved ones. We will get through this, together and come back stronger than ever.
Raj Qsar, CEO / Owner The Boutique Real Estate Group
During this time, we want you to know that we’re here to help…
💕 Our hearts go out to our families with children with schools shut down, our parents, grand-parents & great grand-parents, our seniors in assisted living, our neighbors at the hospitals, our local businesses struggling and anyone impacted by this pandemic.
🍊 TBREG was born here in The OC in 2013 and many of our agents were born and raised here as well. We are fortunate to know people who may be able to help you out for a trip to the grocery store, watching children or just someone to speak with to get the facts.
😊 You’ll be surprised how many good people are here locally who are happy to help you. They WANT TO HELP! Its time for our community to rally for good.
📲 Call or email us if you need anything. We can be reached at 888-917-8267 or info@TheBoutiqueRE.com. We can see if we are able to assist in some way or know someone who can help. To see how our business and team are operating for the time being, please visit our Instagram or Facebook page.
These are crazy, unprecedented times. Together, we will get through it.
The impacts of the coronavirus, the novel respiratory disease that began in China but has spread into an international pandemic with over 140,000 cases around the world confirmed, are just starting to reverberate across the real estate sector. Brokerages have had to close for deep cleaning after some of their agents became exposed to the virus while people in some of the hardest-hit parts of the country are isolating themselves voluntarily and holding off on all buying for the time being.
According to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, 11 percent of agents surveyed earlier this month saw less buyer traffic while 7 percent reported lower seller traffic thus far.Luxury real estate, which is generally considered to include homes worth between $5 million and $30 million, follows different rules. In 2018, high-end homes sat on the market for an average of 506 days compared to only 80 for an median-priced home. That said, this segment of the industry has not been immune to the fear and financial impact surrounding the novel disease.
Senada Adzem, a Douglas Elliman broker working with homes worth as much as $30 million in Boca Raton and other parts of South Florida, said some of her wealthy clients are especially hesitant to hold showings and require much more detail about who is coming into their home.
“We had to convince the seller to allow us to show and register every person who was coming in,” Adzem, whose eight-agent branch has cancelled all open houses until the outbreak stabilizes, told Inman. “After we were done, they had a cleaning team come in and wipe everything down.”
As a result, Adzem’s team has had to screen whom they show houses to not just by the standard ability to afford the property but also by travel history and whether they are showing any visible signs of illness, such as coughing or a fever. Adzem, who fled the war in Bosnia during the 1990s, said that crises like these cause people of all financial and social classes to panic.
She has been striving not only to reassure her clients but work around their fears. In the most extreme example, some clients with private jets have begun asking her about buying homes on islands and in other isolated areas that they can flee to in case of disaster.
“When people are in a panic mode, they think differently and make a different set of decisions,” she said. “As agents, we have to take it seriously and not just pretend it’s not going to impact our business.”
Still, the outbreak is not impacting all parts of the country equally. Raj Qsar, the CEO of the Boutique Real Estate Group in Orange County, California, said members of his team have held 20 open houses last weekend and have seen them packed with people each time. They have another 15 open houses scheduled for this weekend and do not expect a lot of changes in traffic due to the coronavirus.
This could be due to Orange County being a particularly hot market. In the area, median sales prices rose by 7.2 percent year-over-year in December while sales inventory is down 36 percent. According to Qsar, many people are so desperate to invest and tap into the market that a national pandemic hasn’t slowed them down — particularly when the stock market is responding to the cancellation of flights and adjustments to the typical workday.
“If people have funds in a 401K and those funds go down, those funds may not be there anymore,” Qsar said. “This is a 30-year opportunity for a three-month incident.”
The California Association of Realtors expects the virus to have some impact on the luxury market as people hold off on buying second homes and investment properties in the face of uncertainty. Qsar has seen both buyers and sellers who are in the escrow process and need to travel transfer power of attorney to a family member or other trusted person. Rather than the fear of contracting the virus, some fear a quarantine, not having access to WiFi and allowing a sale to fall through their fingers
“They may put their masks on, they may bring hand-sanitizer with them but they’re still going to walk into that open house,” Qsar said, adding that he does not expect serious buyers to be deterred by the coronavirus.
New York City real estate has been particularly responsive to market effects from the virus — the state has seen more than 200 cases of coronavirus and, subsequently, 13 percent of open houses had no traffic at all last weekend. According to CNBC, average open house attendance fell 27 percent in the last week alone — from an average of 5.6 people to 4.1 peopleper event.
McKenzie Ryan, a Compass agent working on high-end properties in Manhattan, said that the New York real estate market is particularly affected by daily headlines. And while that’s having real-world effects, some wealthy buyers are also capitalizing on the situation. She’s seen billionaire clients who normally spend a large portion of their time traveling get landlocked in New York and, as a result, use the extra time to arrange private showings.
“I think people are going to stay focused on their long-term goals and take precautions to keep themselves safe in the interim,” she said.
Would you be willing to spend a few minutes a day to obtain over 100,000 page views for your new listing video? Better yet, what if it cost you nothing? This is what TikTok can do for your business provided you’re willing to jump in and play.
Agents are finally realizing that if they want to remain competitive in 2020, video is a must. The challenge is that producing video requires time, separate uploading to the various social media sites, plus identifying a way to attract page views.
Next-gen social networking: ‘social entertainment’
Emarketer explains that TikTok is a part of a new type of “social entertainment” where users can watch and create short videos. They can also create profiles and interact publicly with a network of contacts, as they do on other social media sites.
It’s this social entertainment element that differentiates TikTok from other social media channels and has led to the app being installed nearly 1.6 billion times.
An article from Inside Hook explains why this is happening:
“The platform is currently the best way to reach young people, as they’re the age group using the app more than any other (60 percent of its users are ages 16 to 24). If you’re looking to get a message across to the largest (about 1.5 billion) and, arguably, most influential group of consumers, a short 15-second TikTok video is, at the moment, the fastest way to do that.”
7 reasons TikTok matters for your business
When you first visit TikTok, you’ll probably wonder how a site that features Gen-Z users dancing to trendy music — like the viral “Renegade” dance challenge — could be relevant for real estate. Here are seven reasons TikTok should matter to your real estate business.
1. It hits the sweet spot for millennial buyers and sellers
In terms of TikTok’s users, 26 percent are between the ages of 25 and 44, the sweet spot for today’s millennial buyers and sellers. The average user spends 52 minutes a day on the platform and opens the app eight times throughout the day.
2. It generates insane amounts of free organic traffic
Gary Vaynerchuk argues that TikTok and LinkedIn are the two places that give you amazing organic reach that don’t happen on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. He likens it to buying real estate in Manhattan in 1898, long before it became incredibly valuable. Vaynerchuk recommends posting a minimum of four videos per day.
To illustrate this point, Alisa Glutz, a Scottsdale mortgage broker and author of Color My Credit, decided to “go play in the sandbox” over at TikTok because her two daughters and their friends were all avid users. Her experience illustrates how powerful this app can be for real estate.
In less than 60 days, she generated over 4 million page views, 455,000 likes and 77,000 followers. Today, at the 90-day market mark, she has generated over 8.4 million page views.
TikTok has also generated leads for her mortgage business, in addition to becoming a referral source for her clients who need the services of a real estate agent. What’s more, she sold 800 copies of her book in only one week. Before TikTok, it had taken her three years to sell that many books
3. It’s about the moms
Glutz was surprised by how many adults are embracing TikTok. What’s fascinating is that the teens who have seen Glutz’s “Color My Credit” videos are going to their moms and saying, “Mom, I don’t understand what she’s saying, but I think you should watch this.”
In other words, what teenagers see on TikTok has the potential to influence their parents’ approach to the listing or buying process.
4. It provides genuinely helpful information
Glutz uses text boxes to provide her message. “How to Create a Great Credit Score” has garnered 845,600 views:
A different approach is to explain a topic without the music. “How to Handle Late Payment to Get It Removed” has received about 674,100 page views. (Note that Glutz has two additional videos in this series. The total length of the three videos is only 45 seconds):
5. It’s a syndication hub for other social media platforms
According to Raj Qsar, the CEO and founder of The Boutique Real Estate Group, TikTok allows you to syndicate your TikTok videos to other social media sites with a single click. You can also cut and paste your link to IGTV (Instagram TV) and YouTube.
6. It’s a great tool for brand building
When Qsar first began using TikTok, he was receiving about 200-800 views per post.
Once Qsar figured out that TikTok did not have to be so formal and that you could use trending dances and popular music, his view count climbed into the thousands. Here’s an example of how TikTok provides exposure for his brand.
Jeff Pfitzer heads up a USA Mortgage team in St. Louis and has been training the real estate agents he serves to use TikTok. Pfitzer explains that your goal is to reach the local micro-community that would be interested in buying or selling where you do business.
Both Pfitzer and Qsar agree that your TikTok videos work as tease for your listings. Once viewers see your TikTok video, they can then “swipe up” to your Instagram, Facebook and YouTube pages, where you can share longer videos. Since your buyers and sellers are on these sites, this is where the lead conversion actually occurs.
Because of its global reach, TikTok can also be a powerful resource for generating international real estate leads as well.
Real estate’s most successful TikTok user
Aaron Grushow, a 23-year-old Compass agent, has probably garnered more page views than any other real estate professional on TikTok. His posts typically receive at least 50,000-100,000 views. His goal is to establish his brand and generate leads.
Grushow shoots 15-second videos highlighting lavish multimillion dollar estates in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Malibu. The following video has garnered 1.7 million views:
Grushow’s videos illustrate how amazingly powerful coupling unusual content and the right music can be. The following video is set to the theme for Jaws — something that Gen X-ers and Boomers would recognize, but many younger people wouldn’t know. It generated 4.2 million views.