Raj Qsar on the state of the luxury market: ‘It’s on fire’

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

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.

BY VERONIKA BONDARENKO via Inman News

How To Market, Sell, and Recruit in “The New Normal”

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.

COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Real Estate Transactions

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.

Additional requirements must be considered for vulnerable populations. The real estate industry must comply with all Cal/OSHA standards and be prepared to adhere to its guidance as well as guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Additionally, employers must be prepared to alter their operations as those guidelines change.

COVID-19 Orange County Real Estate Market Report

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.

For the full press release from CAR click here

CA at a glance: March 2020

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. 

10 Questions with Raj Qsar

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?

Raj-Alyssa.jpg

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.

Original Post via https://alyssahellman.com/blog/10-questions-with-raj-qsar

Top 9 Things to do for New Year’s 2019 in The OC with kids

By: Raj Qsar

1. “Noon” Year’s Eve

Local children’s museums KidspaceThe Children’s Museum at La Habra, and Pretend City all celebrate with balloon drops, live music, sparkling cider, and a countdown to 2020 at 12:00 noon instead of 12 midnight. It’s the best of both worlds for little ones: a New Year’s Eve bash and an early bedtime…for everyone… LOLOL.

Make your own noise at Pretend City

2. Family Festival

Shoreline Village in Long Beach offers a free, early evening, family-friendly celebration featuring all manner of entertainment for kids. The ball drops and the fireworks fly at 9pm, timed to coincide with the east coast, and sensible bedtime. Make even more of a Long Beach day of it by adding a stop at Queen Mary Christmas in the afternoon (open 12n-6pm on New Year’s Eve).

3. Knott’s New Year’s Eve

Is it Knott New Year’s Eve already? Apparently it is—and happily, the Knott’s New Year’s Eve party definitely is a party, with family entertainment everywhere you look, all day and way into the night. We had some friends do this last year and had a ball; and by the time it started getting really crowded, the kids were ready to call it a year anyway.

Knotts Berry Farm New Years Eve

4. Arcade Night

Dave & Busters invites the whole family to play video games and count down to 2020 at the Irvine location. Bubbly drinks for parents and soda for kids are all-you-can-drink at the open bar, and food is included in the ticket price, too. 

5. Jousting

How about some good old-fashioned fighting? No, really, old-fashioned—as in knights in full armor jousting and clashing broadswords. Medieval Times Dinner Theater has a family-friendly New Year’s Eve bash planned (with the emphasis on bash). Could be kinda fun?

6. Disneyland

If you want the closest you can get to that Times Square crowd energy, the Happiest Place on Earth is also one of the most popular places on Earth. Disneyland fireworks are grander (and happen twice) on New Year’s Eve, and the party is all around, as you ring in the new year with every Disney character your kids normally dream of at this time of night.

7. Winter Fest

Orange County has another family-friendly, large-scale celebration option if the theme parks are not your thing. The holiday festival at the OC Fair & Event Center rings in the new year at 6pm for the early-to-bed set, then stays open late to do it all again at midnight, with snow, fireworks, a parade, and a ball drop.

8. First Night Fullerton

This family-friendly, alcohol-free event will be celebrating its 28th year from 7pm to midnight. The free event features live musical performances, food vendors, games, activities, and a fireworks show at midnight.

9. Torchlight Parade (Not in The OC)

And now for something totally different: Two of Orange County’s nearby ski resorts have an annual tradition of a Torchlight Parade, in which hundreds of skiers head down the mountain after dark in a row bearing torches. It costs nothing to watch the spectacle at either Mountain High or Snow Summit, or to participate in the accompanying festivities. Of course, once you’re there, why not go skiing? Especially if you have a 5th grader who can ski for free?

Torchlight Parade

Raj Qsar on Cheddar TV Los Angeles

As I walked into the lobby of the Cheddar Los Angeles TV building in #hollywood this morning I was hit with a huge neon sign that read, “do what you love.” 💡 My mind travels 100 MPH in a 55 MPH world so it is difficult to pause, reflect and take it all in and realize that I am doing what I love. So I made the most of my 6 minutes on the air today with co-hosts Max Godnick and Alyssa Julya Smith on CheddarTV 📺 chatting about my journey in real estate, video marketing, and social media. When we were done I just wanted more. I was like, “it’s over? Ask me more?” So what’s next? Video clip coming soon… 😉

http://www.instagram.com/theboutiquere

Bring your own pumpkin party

BRING YOUR OWN PUMPKIN
Please join us for a Pumpkin Painting & Carving Party! Free event! Fun for the whole family. Art supplies will be provided. Taco Cart & Soft Drinks provided.

The event is located at the Lakeview Field in Yorba Linda! Park in the Foxfield Neighborhood on the Corner of Lakeview Ave & Bastanchury Rd (Churchill Downs Dr or Temhurst Court) and walk towards the end of the cul-de-sac to the dirt path to access field.

Sunday, October 20th from 3-6 pm

Call or text Christina at 714-501-8585 for more info and details.

FACEBOOK EVENT INVITE

Top 8 Tips for ICLV 2019

Inman Connect Las Vegas.

Bigger. Better. Bolder.

Author: Raj Qsar, The Boutique Real Estate Group

1. Make a list of the people you want to meet “in real life.” Connect is an amazing time to solidify some of those online relationships and connect with people who you admire and respect and make that true emotional connection. Some of the connections I have made at Connect have become lifelong friends of mine. They are the ones I call when I need advice, encouragement or just a plain old kick in the tush! Remember this quote from Brene Brown “What we know matters, but who we know matters more.”  Some of my favorite folks include who can show you the ropes at Inman include: Vanessa Jones Bergmark, Sara Sutachan, Seth Price, Andrew Flachner, Alyssa Hellman, Lynn Johnson, Rob Hahn, Laura BradyChris Smith, Jimmy Mackin, Leigh Brown, Bill Lublin, Celeste Starchild, Katie Lance, Debra Trappen, Valerie Garcia, Joe Schutt, Jay Thompson, Heather Elias, Laura Monroe, Teri Conrad, Audie Chamberlain, Joe Rand, Wendy Forsythe, Sam DeBord, Seth O’Bryne, Jason Cassity, Caroline Pinal, Troy Palmquist & Veronica Figueroa, and so many others….

2.  Attend & be present in as many sessions as you can possibly attend! DO NOT MISS ANYTHING. Specifically, look for the sessions that pull you out of your comfort zone and will challenge you on a personal & professional level. See the full schedule here and meet the speakers here. This year catch Molly Bloom on the main stage sharing the story of “the most exclusive high stakes underground poker game in the world.” 😮

Bonus: Please do not miss CAR’s #womanup on Tuesday at 2pm with Sara Sutachan, Leslie Appleton Young & Debra Trappen. See the full lineup here.

3. Have you joined the Inman Coast to Coast Facebook Group? If not join here for all the latest posts, connections and updates. Hashtag is #ICLV

4.  The Party after the Party! Do I need to say anymore? This is VEGAS! Text “PARTY” to 415-818-1555 (thanks Jessie) to find out about all the parties, after-parties and events at #ICLV. We all know the real fun starts after midnight! So just ask around, jump in an Uber (download app here) or Lyft (download app here) and find out where the action is. Check your email for last-minute invites to all the happening VIP parties and events. If you still can not find the party make sure to DM Joe Schutt or Laurie Weston Davis (they will steer you in the right direction, I promise). If you are looking for the top-secret karaoke party then there is only one name you should know 👉🏼  Notorious.

5. Lobbycon! You have heard all the rumors and it is true! You will find everyone in The Aria’s Lobby Bar (open until 2am) and this is the spot where you will meet the CEO’s, Founders, Presidents, movers & shakers all just “hanging out.” Bring your selfie stick & business cards and make sure to say hi. BTW, when is the next time you will be in the same hotel with folks like Brad Inman, Sherry Chris, Sharran Shrivatsaa, Rich Barton, Glenn Kellman, Robert Refkin, Glenn Sanford, Ryan Gorman, Eric Wu, James Dwiggins, Joel Singer, Leslie Appleton Young & Josh Team.

6.  Get out of the hotel! VEAGS is an amazing city with sights, sounds, history and killer food! Check out this list of The Best Restaurants in Las Vegas via Thrillist. Then catch a show! Or check out some of the worlds best clubs or pool parties. Jump in a helicopter over the grand canyon or do the superman zipline over vegas. Also, everyone loves a good speakeasy and they are all the rage now in Vegas. Here is a great list to tackle.

7. Stay fit and drink a ton of water. It will be over 100 degrees the whole week we are in Vegas and you will be eating, drinking & sitting in a lot of sessions.  Please make sure to stay mentally & physically fit at the hotel gym, or find the local SoulCycle, OrangeTheory, CrossFit Gym, TopGolf or 24 hour fitness. If you are still alive midweek there is a group hitting SoulCycle at The Wynn on Wednesday morning at 7am.

8. Ambassadors. These are the ones who will lead us through the first ICLV. Joe Schutt & Laure Weston Davis have been “in charge” of this program for years now and if you have a question about anything ICLV these are the folks to ask. Have you met them? If not connect with them here.

🔥If you made it this far and are headed to #ICLV please find me in one of the sessions, lobbycon or at one of the after-parties. I would love to connect with you and hear your story.

Raj Qsar, The Boutique Real Estate Group, www.TheBoutiqueRE.com

@rajqsar

@TheBoutiqueRE

@SeriouslyOC

@CounterclockwiseSwirl