So, how can agents replicate the success that Qsar gained from an “undesirable” listing? He says it’s all about hustling and “doing it right.” Here are some of his tips on how to get your hustle on:
Be prepared and willing to hustle 24/7
Qsar said one of the first questions he asks potential hires is “What is your hustle like?” He looks for agents who have the natural drive to build face-to-face connections rather than those who prefer to stay cooped up in an office all day.
These type of agents are harder to find, Qsar said, because many professionals in the business think that becoming a top producer is an overnight process.
“Most people think they can show up, do some social media posts and all of a sudden they’re going to be a top agent in their area,” he says. “It’s not like that. You have to meet people where they are.”
“We’re able to look the tenant and the tenant’s agent in the eye, we’re able to open the door for them, make sure the beds are made, the lights are on, the music is playing, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming.” – Raj Qsar
Qsar says agents must realize that real estate is a total hustle. “You wake up hustling, during the day you’re hustling and you go to bed hustling, and then you dream about hustling,” he says.
So, what is the hustle? Qsar says it comes down to never saying “no,” executing each listing the right way and always putting your best foot forward.
“Even on million-dollar listings, if agents can take a reduced commission or they feel like it’s overpriced or whatever, they’re not going to put their best foot forward,” he said. “That’s just too bad that they’re not thinking downstream. ‘Cause the world is able to see anything that we drop on the Internet, and who knows what opportunity that will bring. It’s all downstream.”
Always do it right
Qsar says he knew he wasn’t going to make any money from the initial lease listing, but he decided to take the opportunity anyway.
He invested in professional photos and brochures, staging, a single-property website and even ordered custom signs that were up to the neighborhood’s code.
In addition to stellar marketing strategies, Qsar provided five-star customer service through appointment-only showings.
“We’re able to look the tenant and the tenant’s agent in the eye; we’re able to open the door for them, make sure the beds are made, the lights are on, the music is playing, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming,” he says with a laugh. “We’re driving, taking time out of our day to make sure we can open the door for someone we don’t even know. That’s doing it right.”
Qsar says he treated the leased property like a million-dollar listing to “give the client the best chance of success.” Plus, he knew that his current efforts would lead to future rewards.
“What we preach at our brokerage is that it’s all about downstream. You’re not taking a listing for this listing, you’re taking it for the next listing,” he says. “You’re taking a listing for the digital content you’re going to produce, and you’re taking it for the online leads you’re going to generate from that one listing.”
Furthermore, Qsar says most agents are transactionally trained, which means they are trained for “this one and only transaction.” Basically, agents are playing a game of checkers when they should be playing chess, which puts them behind in the long run.
“[Agents are] not trained digitally, they’re not trained for content, they’re not trained to meet real people in real life,” he says.
Focus on making personal connections
Out of all the aspects of being a successful real estate agent, it’s clear that Qsar treasures his ability to make personal connections the most.
“Something that everyone seems to forget is that you’re going to meet real, live human beings from this listing,” he says. “That’s an opportunity for you to connect with people in real life, and when you connect with people in real life your chance of success is much greater.”
Qsar says that personal connections not only make it easier on the agent but also the client, which is what the work of real estate is all about.
Nothing quite defines the American dream like homeownership, and that’s true for homes of all shapes and sizes. For those of you who want to really invest in your abode, the luxury market might be for you. Luxury homes are currently defined as homes with a multi-million dollar price tag. Though that qualification does not always need to be met if the home is possessed of certain features such as location, amenities, etc. Luxury homes are always homes that are unique and original, and they include amenities such as a Home Theater, private elevators and car lifts, cutting edge technology and more.
What is especially important in the luxury market is the ability to adjust the home to a particular homeowner’s individual needs. There’s a big difference between what’s considered luxury in Los Angeles and in Houston,
and the market responds to that. Many luxury homes are focused on security, with gated entrances, motion detectors, and secure buildings to make homeowners feel safe and secure, as well as grant peace of mind. Aside from practicalities, there are a few standard features that most luxury home buyers look for.
Firstly, location. As with any real estate purchase, location is perhaps the most important consideration. Most luxury homes abide in gated communities or closed buildings, in what are considered elite neighborhoods. Luxury apartment buildings are equipped with incredible views, a full time staff, and concierge service. Luxury homes are equipped with private locations, stunning vistas, and plenty of room to grow.
Depending on where the home is located, outside can be just as important as inside, with decks and pools playing a big part of a luxury lifestyle. Californians are more likely to be drawn to a house with a pool, while New York residents and other city dwellers are more interested in a room with a view.
Quality is also key. Luxury homeowners want quality in everything, from the floors to the walls. Many choose exotic or imported woods and tiles to finish with, and that alone can bump up a price tag. In the kitchen especially, custom cabinetry is a must, and homeowners want the install to be perfect.
Another amenity that appeals to most luxury buyers is a Home Theater. These rooms often come equipped with a large screen, custom lighting and sound, a mini-kitchen or refrigerator, and often a popcorn maker, to lend that movie atmosphere to your home.
Homeowners are also beginning to embrace an entire wet room instead of a simple shower or bathtub. Many of these rooms have multiple shower heads, as well as a place for seating and luxurious flooring. They are considered one of the most popular luxury features, for the relaxation value alone.
Open floor plans are also a must, just like in the suburban real estate market. However, luxury homes often have extremely high ceilings of twenty feet or more, along with the use of counters or cabinetry to separate the living and eating areas. The floor plans are fully customized as well.
Wine cellars are also becoming a more usable space, with room for entertaining and serving guests directly in the cellar itself. This use of smaller space is creative and whimsical, and allows hosts and their guests to be more focused on the current conversation then perhaps they would be in the rest of the home.
There’s also a focus on technology in the home, especially in the kitchen, where smart appliances are quickly gaining popularity. Many homes can be fully synced to a mobile device, like your ipad, that you can use to control everything.
So what’s most important in a luxury home? Real estate always focuses on location first, but after that, most of the requirements are left to homeowner’s individual taste. With the luxury market expanding as it is today, there are no shortages of opportunities to fully customize a home and make it yours. It’s said that “A man’s home is his palace”, and the luxury market provides the chance to make that statement very true indeed.
Focus on agent advice and easy-to-implement business building tactics
Inman and Lab Coat Agent founders Nick Baldwin and Tristan Ahumada have announced a new collaboration with Inman for Connect San Francisco. The Learning Lab at Connect is a two-hour hands on session featuring advice and insights popular on the Lab Coat Agents Facebook group.
Designed specifically for agents who are looking for practical, business building skills, the learning lab will be on Tuesday, August 2nd at Inman Connect San Francisco. Tuesday at Connect is free for Select members and included with a Connect registration. Non-Select members can purchase a Tuesday-only pass for $29. Register for Connect here or Tuesday only here.
Baldwin and Ahumada will host the lab and will cover tech and marketing topics including: video marketing, leveraging client reviews, branding and luxury listing marketing and, of course, using Facebook to build your business. Confirmed speakers include Steve Pacinelli, Laura Monroe, Raj Qsar, Sergio Gonzalez, Amanda Todd, Terry Waggoner, Jason Walters, and Travis Thom.
“Inman and Lab Coat Agents share the same vision: bringing together the best in the business to collaborate, network and share the latest, successful strategies,” said Brad Inman, publisher.
“Lab Coat Agents is thrilled to bring our hands on approach to discovering what works for today’s agent to Connect San Francisco. It’s the perfect platform to share and learn with the best of the best,” said Nick Baldwin, Lab Coat Agents.
“I can do anything I want standing in line at Starbucks if it has to do with a real estate transaction,” said Raj Qsar, owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group. “Contracts, social media, technology.”
“I can do anything I want standing in line at Starbucks if it has to do with a real estate…”
Qsar referred to the current MLS as archaic in its ways of communicating directly with clients. The process of logging in and checking messages only through the MLS portal became a tether, he says, prohibiting engagement. With RealScout, agents are notified immediately of interested parties.
What is RealScout to the buyer?
How it benefits different offices depends on the location. For Los Angeles, and more specifically The Boutique Real Estate Group, the criteria chosen caters to the demographic. In learning what buyers are looking for, RealScout is able to build a profile and inform them of other homes that offer similar amenities.
Once buyers find what they are looking for, they are then able to narrow down the search through the criteria: high ceilings, floor plans, and other details unique to each buyer. This information is also passed along to the agent, helping them secure the relationship.
“The common use cases are when the agent invites the client to use RealScout,” Andrew Flachner, president, and co-founder of RealScout, said. Another entryway is through Zillow, which Qsar said has a direct impact on building a relationship.
Through API integration with Zillow, buyers can connect directly with agents. If during the search they click on a page featuring The Boutique Real Estate Group, users are automatically entered into the agency’s RealScout database and begin receiving notifications according to their search criteria.
What is RealScout to the agent?
Converting leads from online sources is not easy. It’s hard enough getting your face and name seen, much less turning someone’s query into a sale. Through the buyer notifications, which are property listings based on prioritized criteria, RealScout helps to bridge the trust between agent and client.
“They can count on the info from RealScout and your happy, smiling face is what they’ve seen all the time,” said Erica Boisvert, realtor and operations manager at Boutique. “You’ve already got that trust.”
Flachner, who used to be a real estate agent, said that RealScout was developed out of necessity. When he was showing houses, he says his clients wouldn’t demand something like an exact square footage number because they are not robots. Instead, they describe how a cul-de-sac would be a safe place or how a backyard for the kids would nice, which is the criteria that he wanted to implement in RealScout.
“I wanted software that emulated what a good real estate agent is and helps me, almost like a superpower,” Flachner said.
The criteria for each location is different. Flachner said he has come across a buyer searching for a beachfront property that was able to see the surf break, which is not a common criterion in Seattle. Instead, criteria there features options for vicinity to Microsoft’s bus station.
“The answer is, agents, helped us form these criteria,” he said. “We don’t normalize across the country.”
Years ago, real estate agents were the gatekeepers. If you as a consumer wanted to know what was on the market, you had to go through an agent. But those gates are gone. Real estate consumers now have access to all the property data they could ever want. Today, you need to give them something unique, something they can’t Google—and Raj Qsar has a few ideas about how to do it.
“I wanted to do something that was different,” Raj explained. So, in 2009, Raj worked with a local filmmaker to produce an emotional short film about one of his listings. “Not only did we sell a price record on that home, we got like every listing for the next three years in that neighborhood.” Today, The Boutique Real Estate Group continues to produce high-quality videos that offer prospective buyers a beautiful, intimate look at their clients’ listings.
Whether it’s through video or some other avenue, Raj says, today’s agents need to focus on adding more value for their clients. “Give them something they don’t know,” Raj told us. “‘Hey, did you know that this neighborhood on the 4th of July actually shut down the streets? There’s a live band, a taco cart, and the local fire department comes up and does a parade with all the kids?’ [That’s] the stuff that…provides value to these people who wanna spend a couple million bucks on a home.”
Of course, it’s not just the agent’s responsibility to add value: brokers also need to step up and provide for their agents. “They need to create value within the brokerage to be able to push it to their agents, so the agents can push it to their clients, and give [them] the opportunity for success,” Raj explained. That value consists not just of modern tools and great design, but also intensive, one-on-one training in how to use these resources effectively.
“Most of the agents [we hire] are at these big brokerages with 500, 600, 800 agents,” Raj told us. “They feel like a fish. They feel like they have a number. They come here and they’re like, ‘I can’t believe how much one-on-one time I got. I can’t believe that you sat down for three hours and didn’t look at your phone one time.’”
In this interview, Raj explains how video can tell powerful stories around your listings and neighborhoods, and describes how today’s brokers should be investing in each of their agents.
As your business takes off in real estate, it’s important to maintain the relationships already established with not only your former clients but also in the communities you serve.
One of the best ways for agents to gain exposure and build new relationships with potential clients is through the gift of giving. Recently, Raj Qsar of The Boutique RE, a residential real estate brokerage in Orange County, California took this idea for a spin.
They teamed up with Giveback Homes and Soul Cycle for a unique way to give back to the community. By reaching out to their network, they organized a #RidetoBuild spin class to help raise the funds needed to build a home for a deserving family.
Raj and his realtor friends managed to raise the money and feel the burn while helping to better the life of a family in need with the guided help of Giveback Homes.
Fueled by the passion of real estate pros like Sindeo Advisory Board Member, Raj Qsar, and hundreds of other leaders in real estate, Giveback Homes has made the opportunity to give back easier than ever.
Giveback Homes provides their members with marketing and design services, tutorials on how to incorporate giving into their business, local Build Days, international Build Trips, and tangible results of the impact they’re making throughout the world.
Recently, Sindeo helped fund a home for Marie in Haiti and Arcadio in El Salvador, and has plans to join Giveback Homes for their first Build Day in San Francisco this Spring.
Want to help too? Click here to donate to the San Francisco project or any of their Build Projects throughout the world.
👉 The business greeting in many cultures is often the initial impression an individual can give to their clients. Since our team assists clients in buying & selling residential real estate in Southern California we have many different cultures we come across and each culture seems to have their own unique customs in regards to business. Over the last 8 years, we have seen a massive influx of individual from 🇨🇳 China who are buying & selling homes here in Orange County. A few things we have learned over the years in regards to business greetings & etiquette include:
Some helpful tips:
1. You must have a business card. Not having a business card is like not having a name and the equivalent to not shaking someones hand in western culture.
2. Your title on your card is also very important. Most Chinese people want to feel they are speaking to someone very important or someone at their level. So if you are meeting a CEO of a Chinese company they will want to speak to the CEO of your company.
3. Receiving or giving your card:
a. You MUST be standing up (this shows respect)
b. You MUST have your cards in a case (this shows you are organized). The case should have a spot for your cards and for the card you are receiving.
c. You MUST hand your card over with both hands (as the photo above represents). This is the highest form of respect. Never give a card out with your left hand. It is considered a total insult.
d. When you hand your card over please make sure the writing is face up towards your client (this shows courtesy).
e. Then you MUST accept your clients cards with both hands as well (as shown above).
f. When you receive the clients card, pause, read it and make a comment about their company, their title or simply repeat their name. If you are unsure how to pronounce their name now is the perfect time to ask and clarify.
g. Now place your clients card back in your case and put the case back in your jacket pocket over your heart (left side coat pocket). This shows honor as you are placing their card over your heart. If you are not wearing a jacket keep the card in your right hand for the entire meeting. If you are seated, then place the card in front of you (not face down).
Things to NEVER do:
1. Never hand out a ripped, torn or dirty business card.
2. Never write on someone’s card. It is the equivalent of writing on someone’s face.
3. Do not accept or give your card with one hand. And never with your left hand (as mentioned above).
4. Never place a business card in your pant pocket and then sit on the card. It would be like sitting on that persons face.
5. Do not stack your cards on a table and have your client simple take one.
6. Never ask a client for another card and say you lost it. It is like you have lost their face.
Successful real estate branding can’t be accomplished with just a fancy logo or a catchy motto. The real secret behind strong real estate brands is a combination of creative elements and on-point messaging into a coherent identity. And if you want to become a real estate branding champion, it takes valuable content, a strong media presence, and regular interaction with your audience to convey that identity.
Each of the agents and brokers listed below (in no particular order) has mastered the art of branding in some aspect, so check out what makes their brands unique and memorable, and learn how you can emulate their methods to bolster your own real estate agent branding.
Qsar’s brokerage has been a leader in the video marketing sphere for some time now — so much so he could be designated the King of Real Estate Video (should such a designation exist). From hiring excellent video marketing vendors to help him capture some amazing listings, likeHale Ali’i, to shooting his own recordings featuring his agents and the properties they represent, Qsar has shown a knack for crafting wonderfully attractive and charming videos that make you want to watch over and over again … even if you don’t happen to be in the market for homes for sale in SoCal. The videos have now become a trademark of his agency, and it’s thanks to some nifty real estate branding savvy from Qsar.
It’s hip to be square. The Geeky Girls Archer and Davis have taken this mantra to heart with their real estate branding approach — one that’s made them well-known in the world of real estate. The social proof is in the pudding: Just take a look at the duo’s Placester website homepage and you’ll see a multitude of industry members sporting Geeky Girls gear. A bold color scheme to accompany their creative logo and a sense of pride in their unique business persona have earned the pair quite a following. Want to emulate success? Don’t feel obligated to label yourself as “The [Insert Adjective Here] Agents.” Instead, focus on what separates you from other agents in your market and blend that information seamlessly into your real estate marketing. For instance, if you mostly sell great beachside properties, use language in your marketing messaging to denote your status as one of the premier beachfront property sellers in the region. A catchy moniker, like The Geeky Girls, is simply gravy.
Matt Beall is a prime example of real estate branding done right for several reasons. He built his agency, Hawaii Life, rapidly — more than 200 agents and brokers have joined the firm’s 11 offices in just four years. He’s hosted a brokerage-sponsored real estate conference called Worthshop that has featured numerous big industry names. He positions his firm online as the preeminent brokerage in the state. And, on top of all that, he’s even managed to get his agency some airtime on HGTV, thanks to the aptly named series “Hawaii Life.” In other words, Beall has put in the work needed to build a powerhouse real estate firm and is now focusing on maximizing its potential by getting its name out through various channels.
Not all real estate marketing strategies need to focus entirely on getting in front of consumers. Directing your marketing tactics at your peers can position you as a thought leader in the agent community. Take Thorne and Fauquier, for example: Their RE/MAX-sponsored “Mobile Agent TV” webisode series entails them interviewing the best and brightest in the real estate sector. These shows (like the episode above featuring Placester’s Seth Price) inform agents and brokers all over on how to better their bottom lines with the latest and greatest sales and marketing efforts, emerging technologies, and general business tips. Additionally, though, the series has transformed them into knowledgeable agents in the eyes of their local market. Each and every episode of “Mobile Agent TV” enhances Thorne and Fauquier’s status as a go-to resource.
It pays to work in one of the hottest (literally and figuratively) housing markets in the nation, but even that is no guarantee for success. Miami-area agents Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, who have capitalized on their first-name branding opportunity, understand that it takes some special marketing to stand out from the crowded field of real estate professionals operating in sunny Miami-Dade County. Thus, the dynamic duo has worked hard over the last several years to cement themselves as the premier agents not only in South Florida, but across the U.S. and world. Nearly every usage of their simple-yet-elegant logo is accompanied by copy denoting their status as “the #1 agent team worldwide.” When you’ve got the numbers to back up your claims, it’s an easy decision to take advantage of such a title. The Jills don’t rest on this logo and tagline, however — they also make sure to optimize their joint real estate website, produce detailed real estate videos, and take advantage of speaking engagements and other promotional endeavors.
Branding for real estate businesses is primarily accomplished online these days, thanks to a bevy of inbound marketing tactics agents and brokers can implement. But offline marketing methods can also make an impact. For instance, Realtor and Placester customer Travis Greene has added his real estate agent branding to his truck, meaning he can promote his business simply by getting behind the wheel. Offline marketing techniques like this can go wrong (very wrong, in some cases), but Greene manages to incorporate his online branding into the real world effortlessly and attractively. Having a strong internet presence is vital to real estate marketing success, but spending some ad money on things like this can still offer reputational benefits.
As we’ve discussed on the Academy before, agents have a wide array ofreal estate conferences available to them. Some of these conferences cover broad topics, like technology’s role in real estate and how to better organize your team. Others take a different approach — like Hear It Direct, a series of consumer-meets-agent events started in part by Sue Adler. What better way to market yourself than to speak with buyers and sellers in your area and answer their questions? As with the RE BarCamps that have become popular among agents nationwide, Adler’s Hear It Direct conferences have helped close the divide between agents and consumers, and make it simpler for both sides to understand one another. Adler can take a lot of credit for how successful Hear It Direct has become and deserves recognition for her selfless real estate branding. It’s a novel approach to a fundamental idea: Speaking and networking directly with those you want to work with.
You have to go to great lengths sometimes to develop effective real estate agent branding — literally and figuratively. Sacramento-based Realtor Jon Hesse, for instance, flew a great distance to meet up with a branding firm he hired to get his photos taken for promotional images. The results? Well, just look at the “about me” infographic above, which features one of the images taken by the agency. It’s simple, yet shows Hesse is serious about his business because he’s willing to take the time to get professional shots taken. The same branding is used atop his real estate website and on all of his major social media accounts, meaning he’s taking full advantage of the branding services he secured. It can cost a pretty penny to get photos taken by seasoned pros, but if the fruits of that labor end up making you look reputable in the eyes of your audience, it’s more than worth the expense.
When you think “skydiving,” you may think “risky,” but perhaps that’s exactly what Giguere wants you to think: that she’s willing to take risks to help her clients close deals and provide excellent customer service. Look closer at her real estate branding, though, and you realize she’s much more than a gimmick. Giguere has charm and personality to spare, and clearly shows she cares about her clients. Email is a core element of her real estate marketing plans, as shown in this Academy post, while she also spends a great deal of time on her blog to inform the local community about interesting events, venues, restaurants, and other goings-on. Simply put, Giguere goes all out to make herself as personable and relatable as possible — and she passes that test with flying colors.
To become a local, trusted brand name, real estate agents must implement some creative real estate marketing. A high-quality, appealing logo can be a great starting point for establishing your brand, but the real secret to broadening awareness and generating interest in your business is to use your brand marks in as many places as humanly possible. That means doing what Realtor Julian Pilarski has done, creating a beautiful real estate logo (like his below) to use on every page of your site, in your email marketing, atop your social media accounts, on flyers, in ebooks, and any other marketing collateral you create.
Pilarski specifically does an excellent job of using his logo in his real estate videos, as evidenced above. The branding is prominent at the beginning and end of his videos, and is even used in the corner of the screen mid-video. Seemingly small touches like these used hundreds of times over will add up over time and resonate more and more with local real estate customers.
Some agents forget to have a print real estate branding strategy in addition to online tactics. Look to Judith Weiniger’s marketing, for inspiration: She has mastered the art of the real estate mailer. Weiniger sends out print collateral like market reports and a home seller’s guide that are perfectly branded. They feature her agency’s logo, have a unified color scheme, and, most importantly, feature lots of valuable content that educates her audience.
Who do you think will be atop the list when recipients decide to buy or sell? Once again, consistency is key. Weiniger noted in a Placester Academy post that sending out mailers a dozen times annually is ideal. Doing so has helped get her and her company top-of-mind with qualified leads in her market.
Need some real estate branding ideas? Check out our Academy post 75 Ways Real Estate Agents Can Promote Themselves Online. What are some real estate brand examples you’ve seen that you loved? Share some notable instances in the comments section below!
In our latest #SindeoSitDown, Owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group and video guru, Raj Qsar, sat down with us to talk about how and why realtors everywhere should be leveraging video to grow their business.
So…what did we learn? For starters, if you’re not already using video to market your listings you should be! Listings that use video receive 4x as many leads as those without. Video has become the #1 ROI for money spent and returned for Raj and his team, as is the case for most realtors doing video successfully.
What kinds of things can you add to video to make them exciting and “sticky”?
Add a human element – Create videos that are about more than just the property. Feature pets, give the house a story, include actors that “live” in the home, find ways to make it feel real so viewers can relate.
Include the community – B-roll footage is key. Buyers aren’t just moving into a house, they’re moving into a community. So, show it to them! Shots of local businesses, parks, beaches, and amenities go a long way. Plus, this content is evergreen, meaning you can use it again and again.
Make it cool – There are so many hi-tech additions you can incorporate to put your video above the rest. Use hyperlapse, add filters, film aerial shots with a drone!