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Innovative Marketing: Raj Qsar Sells a Story, Not Just a Home

On January 1, 2013, Raj Qsar launched his great experiment: a brokerage that eschews more traditional real estate methods in favor of a new and creative marketing approach. The Boutique Real Estate Group began its journey on that first day of 2013 with three agents, a creative director, a social media manager and an office manager — and it’s taking southern California real estate to a new level. The experiment worked.

Raj Qsar is the principal and owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group and a 10-year veteran of real estate sales and marketing. Raj shared his vision of the Boutique with me, and it’s a compelling story of the birth and growth of a real estate brokerage that tends to do things a little bit differently. It’s a story of success that provides insight into a free-thinking yet savvy group of professionals who, in Raj’s own words, have formed “a technology company that is super-passionate about creative design. And oh, by the way, sells real estate as well.”

I wanted to tell a story

Ask the people who know Raj and The Boutique to describe what sets them apart, and you are likely to hear “video.”

That seemed a good place to start my discussion with Raj, so I simply asked, “why video?”

Instead of the expected responses — “Video is the future!” or “Real estate is visual, it lends itself to video” — what I heard was, “I wanted to tell the homeowner’s story. A story not just about the home, but about the neighborhood and why they loved living there.”

Raj found a wedding videographer who took a narrative approach to his work: Instead of taking the standard pictures of bride, groom and wedding party, the videographer was telling the story of the couple. Believing that this style could translate to real estate, Raj contacted him and said, “I want you to tell a story. A story about a house.”

“What do you mean, a story about a house?”

This was in 2009, before video was a buzzword, before video was cool. Real estate “video” at that time typically consisted of a fancy slideshow: still images pieced together using zoom effects, with pleasant music playing in the background.

“That’s not video, that’s pictures stitched together to appear video-like. It’s fake video,” Raj told me.

Raj was at a listing presentation for an expired property. It had languished on the market for nine months with only five showings and no offers. Raj pitched the idea of a “real life” video to the sellers, one that would focus on why the sellers had lived in and loved this home for so many years. It would highlight not only the home, but also weave the community and local businesses into its story line. They loved the idea.

Raj walked away with the listing and a promise to create a new kind of video.

There was one problem: he had no idea how to do that. Passionate about creative design, Raj knew where to find the right people to pull this off. They storyboarded some ideas, professionally staged the home, took amazing photos, shot true video footage of the home and neighborhood, created an online marketing campaign, translated that campaign into multiple languages and set off to sell the property.

That was just the beginning.

“We are so OCD about every fine detail that we re-shot and re-edited the video several times, even going through multiple soundtracks and music choices before we went live.”

With the video complete, Raj delivered it to his sellers and asked them to share it with friends, family and neighbors. The home was in a small, tight-knit, gated neighborhood, and the owners shared the video with their Bunko group — which included about 70 of the neighborhood’s 100 homeowners.

Raj is proud of the fact that they took that listing and got an over-list price offer in two weeks.

But he’s prouder of the fact that the video was so well received that over the next three years, they listed 13 homes in that subdivision, setting price records almost every time.

The owners loved the video. They shared it with other homeowners who loved it. It was high quality, it was memorable, and it made the phone ring when people were looking to sell.

In case you think this reception of a property video was just dumb luck, there are other similar stories. A condo association played a video produced by Jeremy Lehman, The Boutique’s CTO, at their board meeting because it highlighted the neighborhood so well. A couple of the board members were considering selling their homes. Who do you think they called? The Boutique group has now listed 15 of those condos.

The video brokerage

Raj considers video a catapult to get in front of sellers. While a video may not sell a home directly, the quality and effort Raj’s brokerage puts into video sets them apart from the masses. It identifies them. They are now locally (and I would argue, nationally) thought of as “the video brokerage.”

As time marched on, Raj took video production in-house. He bought the equipment and brought in experts, lowering the production cost and allowing them to shoot videos on about half of their listings. If there is a story to tell, they will tell it in multiple formats, across multiple platforms, including video.

But Raj stresses that it’s not just video. When The Boutique takes a listing it usually spends about three weeks getting it ready before submitting it to the MLS.

At this point in the conversation, I stopped Raj and said, “Three weeks? Who takes three weeks to get a home in the MLS?”

“We do,” said Raj. They storyboard the property and neighborhood, professionally stage the home, hire select professional photographers, process and edit those photos, shoot and edit video, create a 90-day content calendar that maps out how the listing will be promoted on various social and listing syndication sites and discuss how will they share the home’s story. Then, and only then, is the property ready for the MLS and their marketing push.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTNQnHEEzFY

The first hire

Ask most fledgling brokers or team leaders about their first hire and they will probably say they brought in a transaction coordinator, buyer’s agent or office manager. In fact, every person I’ve talked to who built their own team or brokerage started by hiring one of those people.

Until I talked to Raj, that is: His first hire was a creative director.

Their graphic designer on staff — on staff, not contracted out — is degreed. “It’s not like we are using the broker’s assistant’s cousin who just graduated from junior college to do our design work,” said Raj.

That attitude defines Raj and The Boutique. He wants the best, and only the best, for his brokerage, his agents and his clients.

This tenet is reflected in part by their technology standards: The Boutique is Apple-based, and all agents must be on Apple products. No agents design their own marketing material; it all goes through the in-house creative designer, and everything goes through the videographer. They have three preferred listing photographers, and those are the only three that agents can use. Before even going into the home, however, it is staged by their in-house stager. Why so much quality control? Raj said, “We make our agents do these things because we know they work, and they give our clients and agents the best chance of success.”

On lead generation

Pretty pictures are nice, but ultimately you need leads. I asked Raj about his strategies for lead generation and listing syndication.

Raj said they are on all of the major platforms: Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com. “By far and away we’ve seen the most benefit from Zillow. The quality of leads and amount of leads that come in from Zillow is superior to the rest. Our rep makes a big difference too. He’s a partner with us.”

One of the first things The Boutique does when they get a new agent is have them sign up for the “pro” level on all the major search sites. This ensures agent buy-in and facilitates lead management and consistency.

“Speed of response to Internet leads is critical,” Raj informs us. “We used to route leads to agents on a round-robin basis. As we got more sophisticated, and realized that if you don’t reply to a lead in two minutes that you’ve lost it, we brought in an in-house lead incubator whose job is to qualify and curate contacts.” The Boutique generated 3,600 inbound leads in 2014 though portal advertising and in-house lead generation efforts. Staffing a lead incubator position has freed up Raj’s agents and shifted them from receiving brokerage leads to receiving appointments.

There is no Plan B

Talk to Raj for two minutes about real estate and you will see that he is a very passionate man with a strong focus on creative design. This comes through not only in his listings, but in his philosophy on running a brokerage.

“It’s all about the consumer and their experience. We are hired to sell a property, but a property isn’t just bricks and mortar and walls. Every home has a story and if we tell that story well, we can create an emotional response — and when a buyer is emotionally involved in the story, they are more likely to purchase.”

How does that vision scale? Can it scale? What are Raj’s future plans for The Boutique Real Estate Group?

“I’d like to open another five offices in southern California in the next five years,” Raj told me.

“What about expanding outside of SoCal?” I asked.

“I get those calls about once a month. Some big-box brokerage or franchise will approach me about expanding. We love what we do. We hustle, we sell a home and we reinvest than back into the business. We add to our knowledge and technology. I have no Plan B. This is what we love, this is what we do.”

Video marketing in action

The Boutique Real Estate Group is known as “the video brokerage,” so we’d be remiss if we didn’t include some sample videos.

“It’s not all about the price point,” Raj tells us. “Yes, we are focusing on the luxury market by providing luxury services to our agents and clients. These services are what truly set us apart. We respect where our industry has been but we are pushing the envelope and going in a whole new direction — and we are just getting started.”

Visit The Boutique’s YouTube Channel to see how they market their listings — and their brokerage.

Here is a recent listing video that exemplifies The Boutique’s philosophy of storytelling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7HP5UXWuPc

 

And here is a video for a magnificent luxury estate in Hawaii. The Boutique Real Estate Group was brought on as a co-lister for this property due to their skill and expertise in social media, video and creative design.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIOFTy5rsy0[/embed]
Posted in Brea, Central Orange County, Coastal Orange County, Corona Del Mar | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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33 People Who Are Changing the Real Estate Industry

via Inman Select

No points for tweeting, schmoozing or defending the status quo

In 1982, the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was introduced which in effect, launched the Internet. Nothing has done more to transform culture, the economy and real estate in the last three decades. In honor of the 33rd anniversary, we are recognizing 33 people who are changing or will change the real estate industry in 2015 and beyond. No points for tweeting, schmoozing or maintaining the status quo; this list includes only those who are poised to change the industry and are taking actions to do so.

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Read Article Here: http://bit.ly/Inman33
Twitter List Here: http://bit.ly/Inman33twitter
Download PDF Here: http://bit.ly/Inman33pdf

Posted in Central Orange County, Coastal Orange County, Corona Del Mar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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Resolutions to Make (and Keep) in Your Long Beach Home

Let Pamela and Ric with The Boutique Real Estate Group help you buy or sell a Long Beach home. Keep your resolutions in 2015 and explore Long Beach.

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New Years Day is the time to make resolutions. Our good intentions have mostly petered out by February. Make this the year you keep your resolutions by taking a different approach. You live in a beautiful Long Beach home, but how often do you explore your city? Let this be the year you find some of the quirky shops and fun eateries the city is known for. Get acquainted with the arts scene. Or maybe this is the year you’re really going to make your home a sanctuary. We have a few suggestions to get you going.

Attending the 2nd Saturday Art Walk in Downtown Long Beach can help you start to know your city better. The East Village Art District is full of galleries, shops, and restaurants. For the Art Walk, they all stay open later than usual. There are many local artists exhibiting their work. You may find the perfect piece for your Long Beach home.

Head down to 4th Street, also known as Retro Row, for incredible vintage finds. Several shops specialize in vintage furniture. Deja Vu focuses on Mid-century Modern and Danish Modern. They will also help you design a home bar with custom upholstery. Inrestrospect was named Best Vintage Store in the OC Weekly’s Best of 2014 issue. Check out the collection of clothing, LPs, furniture, and decorations. Your house should reflect you. Unusual vintage items set your house apart and really make it your space.

New Years resolutions usually include something about losing weight or exercising more. Instead of going to the gym, how about visiting the El Dorado Nature Center. Studies are showing how important it is for people to be in nature. Stress levels decrease and a feeling of well being increases. The El Dorado Nature Center is a lovely place to go for a walk or a jog. There are also classes that focus on gardening with native California plants, yoga, birdwatching, and more. Become a Friend of El Dorado Nature Center to support its work and for access to fascinating members-only events.

We hope this gives you a good start for a 2015 that will be fulfilling and fun!

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Erica Boisvert: ‘There is no algorithm for nuance’

via Inman Select

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Erica dishes on the economy and maintaining agent value in 2015

Are you optimistic about 2015?

An approaching year always carries a certain sense of hope and excitement, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how work and new relationships from this year progress and grow in 2015.

The economy?

Yes; the economy has slowly, but progressively, gotten better, and the U.S. is working toward once again being a balanced and stable contributor to the global economy. Watching the unemployment rate get lower, seeing mortgage interest rates hover below 4 percent and knowing that the Federal Reserve is cautious about raising rates, which have effectively been around zero since 2008, leaves me feeling confident that slow and steady will win the race. Things are not as secure as we really need them to be, but we appear to be on the right path toward stabilization, which does leave me feeling optimistic about 2015. Also, with a presidential election on the horizon, it’s safe to say that things will continue to progress slowly and the Fed will proceed with caution.

The housing market?

The housing market has been fairly volatile in the recent past, but in late 2013 and into 2014 it feels as though things are getting back on track. Even with a little lull from the fall extending into winter the market is better now than it was a few years ago and appears to continue to get better.

Your success?

I’m very excited for a successful year … working with The Boutique Real Estate Group allows me the amazing opportunity to work with, and learn from, industry leaders. Whether it’s Jeremy Lehman introducing us to the latest technological advancements, Raj Qsar stretching our company’s reach globally and teaching us about out-of-the-box market preparation for our client’s homes, or Aaron Woodman reminding us to build and nurture relationships, they all lend to our “boutique” culture of approaching real estate differently and effectively — and, as a result, thriving.

What are you worried about?

My worries tend to be more personal; will I connect with the right people?

How much do you fret about global events?

The global economy is such a force to be reckoned with and has so many constantly changing facets that it can be overwhelming … I don’t know that I worry about global events as much as I try to maintain a working knowledge of what’s occurring. Am I worried that the European and Japanese markets are set to tank? Yes. But I’m hopeful that the right people, who are much smarter than I am, are already addressing the potential problems. So, I tend to concentrate more on what I can do to affect positive change — I can make sure my clients are realistic and setting the listing price of their homes in a way that makes sense in their local market while still achieving their personal goals, and in the instance of buyers, I can work diligently to find them a home that is responsibly set within their budget while still allowing for future growth in their real estate portfolio.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

It seems that “stability” is the name of the game … rates will move, they will respond to the climate set on Wall Street, but will there be drastic changes in either direction? Probably not. It seems that the Fed is set to keep rates low going into 2015 while we concentrate on maintaining the strength our economy has gained up to this point. 2016 going into 2017? Now, that’s a different ball game.

Will home prices appreciate next year?

As long as we stay the course, homes will most likely see a gain in 2015 … some homeowners have seen gains already this year.

Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?

Agent productivity is such a subjective thing — agents who are producing now will continue to do well; agents who are learning and implementing strong strategies now will do well next year. Personally, I plan on being massively productive, and my goal is to triple my numbers from this year.

Will the portals play a bigger role next year?

It will be interesting to see how Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia will play out in February; the industry impact could be dulled as the company experiences growing pains, and it’s possible that newer strategies will be implemented later in the year leaving the largest changes to occur in 2016. However, the portals will always play a large role — potential buyers and sellers are interested in the ease of use of these products that seem to offer tons of information freely at your fingertips.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

This is still a word-of-mouth market; the biggest source of leads will always be current clients.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business next year?

Our company is growing at an amazing pace, and it’s quite a ride! It is my intention to grow with The Boutique and triple last year’s business.

What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?

Maintaining agent value is a main concern for me. It is easy for consumers to get caught up in the portals, to jump online and do some quick research and feel like they have good working knowledge of the local area. But it falls to our shoulders to show our clients that, actually, quick and easy is not the order of the day; websites like Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, etc., cannot give an all-encompassing value estimate. There is no algorithm for nuance; there is no way to measure the subjective nature of home selling or the emotion involved on the consumer level. It is up to us to ensure that clients are aware of our value by sharing our comprehensive market knowledge, anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations in every transaction — and by offering them the personal touch that these websites cannot give.

Posted in Anaheim Hills, Brea, Central Orange County, Coastal Orange County, Corona Del Mar, Fullerton, Random Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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Meet Raj Qsar: The Boutique Real Estate Group, Newport Beach

via Leverage Global Partners

Get to know Raj Qsar, Principal/Owner of The Boutique Real Estate Group, the exclusive representative for Leverage Global Partners in Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Balboa Island, Newport Coast, Huntington Beach, and Sunset Beach, CA, USA. 

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What was your vision in founding The Boutique Real Estate group.

I reflect back on a quote that crossed my news feed some years ago.  “Excellence is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.”  The Boutique had our “ah-ha” moment back in 2008 as technology and social media found Real Estate. We knew there had to be a better way of not only marketing luxury real estate but there also had to be a better way of managing the mountain of paperwork and people involved in a real estate transaction. Our vision was clear. We had to digitize the real estate experience. The world is on the web – advances in technology are changing the way businesses interact with clients. People are on their smartphones, heads down and focused in a hyper-local world, yet our listing content grabs worldwide attention.

We know we need to be where our clients are, so we can be at the forefront of their minds all the time whether it is on a smartphone in Newport Beach or on an iPad in China. You will never find our clients running to a fax machine and most likely our clients will never even pick up a pen to sign anything. We are a paperless office, completely mobile and can run an entire real estate transaction from our iPads and iPhones. Our technology does not require our clients to be tech savvy – it only requires our agents to understand the benefits of technology and to implement that technology into our client experience.  With this simple direction built on technology first, our brokerage concept came to life and then layered on in-house design, creative marketing strategies, world class social media and internet optimization.

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How has social media, creative marketing and in-house design changed or impacted your approach to business?

Real Estate marketing has truly evolved over the last 10 years. The Boutique has developed a comprehensive in-house strategy which showcases our client’s home through real life video (actual movies with creative story lines), Architectural Photography, 360 HD V-Tours (amazing technology), custom built individual property websites for each & every home, in-house staging & interior design, custom graphics & design, and a social media content strategy that reaches people on a global scale. We have had the pleasure of being able to bring all aspects of our marketing standard completely in-house. What that means to our agents & clients is that we have complete control over our designs, feel and strategy when marketing luxury real estate. When surfing the web for real estate, our listings stand out: they have a unique look & feel and buyers recognize our listings as being “boutique-ified.” Every part of the marketing strategy has been touched by our in-house team to ensure the story has been told on that particular home. Hours of storyboarding a listing video, post production of each and every photograph, creating a content strategy for each social portal and custom in-house designed print brochures & booklets for each of our listings.  This is all done with intention and skill to give our clients the upfront best chance of success when marketing their home on the open market.

 How do you like to spend your free time?

I am an Orange County Native and growing up, my parents would always take us to the beach to play, surf, BBQ and just enjoy our time together.  So this tradition has carried onto my family as we spend most of our free time on the beaches of Orange County.  When we travel we look for resorts on the beach anywhere in the world.  One of our fav spots is Nantucket Island off the coast of Boston.  We have spent many summers on Nantucket and it truly has a piece of our hearts.  Most recently, we have developed a true passion for wine and all the intricacies it brings to life. Most family gatherings as we break bread we are also opening a nice bottle of wine, which of course always has a story behind it.

Leverage Global Partners is proud to have Raj Qsar and the team at The Boutique Real Estate Group as our partners in the network.   

– See more at: http://www.leveragere.com/leverage-lifestyle/meet-raj-qsar-the-boutique-real-estate-group/#sthash.13Y2E7AU.dpuf

Posted in Central Orange County, Coastal Orange County, Corona Del Mar, Random Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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Santa’s Favorite Long Beach Shops Near Naples Homes

Pamela and Ric has the lowdown on Santa’s favorite Long Beach shops near Naples homes. Search The Boutique Real Estate to find great Long Beach real estate.

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Santa and his helpers have plenty of great gift shopping at the unique Long Beach shops and businesses near Naples homes. Bungalow Bay is always a favorite, with their huge selection of Brighton leather goods. Classy shoes, fine jewelry, subtle fragrances, and sharp sunglasses make luxury gifts.

For the athletic folks on the list, Santa stops at Tri-Pacific. It’s one of a kind for its focus on triathletes. Running shoes, lightweight bikes, helmets, tires, and wetsuits of the best quality can all be found here. Santa might stuff stockings with a few protein bars or helpful supplements, too.

Some Naples homes are going to get a makeover this Christmas. For those lucky ones, Santa will stop at Kitchen Studio. The designers and craftspeople there will help bring a remodel vision alive. Whether it’s a one-room project, like a kitchen, bathroom, office, or walk-in closet, or a whole house remodel, Kitchen Studio will bring many years of experience to do a beautiful job.

After all that running around, Santa likes to stop at Trader Joe’s at Marketplace Long Beach. He’ll pick up a sandwich or a bag of cookies and wet his whistle with a natural juice drink or an iced coffee. While he’s there, he’ll pick up some treats to bring home to Mrs. Claus, like delicious Italian pizza, a stir fry veggie mix, or an Indian daal. Santa can always use some help with his long gift list. Check out more Long Beach shops in the Naples area to find presents for the people on your list!

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The Boutique Real Estate Group Welcomes Sarah Trent Miranda To Their Los Angeles Operations

Sarah Trent Miranda Joins The Boutique Real Estate Groups Expansion Into Los Angeles

Corona del Mar, Ca (PRWEB) December 08, 2014

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | PRESS RELEASE
________________________________________

The Boutique Real Estate Group (http://www.TheBoutiqueRE.com) is a boutique real estate brokerage founded in Orange County, CA, that focuses on brilliant design, creative marketing strategies & luxury services and is headed by Founder & CEO, Raj Qsar and Chief Technology Officer,Jeremy Lehman. Raj & Jeremy have created a culture that spurs collaboration, technology and social media with a unique marketing approach and have successfully penetrated into the Luxury Real Estate Market in Southern California with their obsessive focus on design, creativity, story telling films and in-house technology platform.

The Boutique and Aaron Woodman, LA Operations Manger, are pleased to announce this week the addition of Sarah Trent Miranda, a distinguished industry leader and second generation Realtor from Pasadena, Ca. Sarah brings tremendous value to The Boutique Real Estate Group and their expansion into the Los Angeles Luxury Real Estate Market. “Sarah’s passion for Luxury Real Estate and her strong commitment to set an example for our industry is what makes her a perfect fit for our expansion team” said Aaron Woodman.

Sarah Trent Miranda

Sarah is extremely proud to be a part of this industry, making a difference everyday fighting for homeownership rights. As a licensed Real Estate Salesperson since 2002, she is passionate about giving back to an association that she loves. Sarah has served on the Young Professionals Network (YPN) since 2009 with her local Association of Realtors; this includes serving as chair in 2011. She also serves on the Budget & Finance Committee, Membership Value Committee, and the Presidential Advisory Group as Vice President for 2015. Sarah is also an active member in the California Association of Realtors, serving on the Board of Directors since 2011. She is currently serving as the YPN Chair for 2015, and an appointed Trustee for the Scholarship and Education Foundation.

“The Boutique Real Estate Group has passion for excellence that I find truly exceptional. It’s refreshing to be a part of an innovative team, dedicated to providing the highest level of customer service and creative marketing strategies that will enhance my ability to better serve my clients. ” Says Sarah Trent Miranda.

With The Boutique’s recent acquisition of Fitzpatrick + Prince Real Estate Group, International Partnership with Leverage Global Partners, and their expansion into the Los Angeles Luxury Real Estate Market, The Boutique is aggressively positioning themselves as the real estate brokerage of the future. No other real estate brokerage is putting this much attention into defending premium prices through technology and creative marketing techniques.

“As the Boutique continues to build a foundation rooted in technology & creativity we also continue to build upon our leadership strength with the addition of Sarah to our team.” Says Raj Qsar, Founder & CEO.

This focus on design in combination with a tech-forward approach has earned The Boutique Real Estate Group accolades and awards worldwide: 2014 Inman News Innovator Award nominee for “Most Innovative Real Estate Agent,” 2014 “Next Generation Real Estate Brokerage”, 2013 and 2014 “Top 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders in The USA”, and 2013 “Top 20 Real Estate Videos in the USA.” The leadership team at The Boutique continues to make their mark here in the USA and internationally as they are called upon to teach, educate and raise the bar in our industry at all the major real estate conferences in the world.

Link To PRweb Release

The Boutique Real Estate Group has offices in Corona del Mar, Brea and Los Angeles and is headquartered in Corona del Mar, California.
The Boutique Real Estate Group, Inc.
(949) 612-2535, Info(at)TheBoutiqueRE(dot)com
3653 E. Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Posted in News, Orange County Luxury Real Estate, Orange County Real Estate, Orange County Social Media, Orange County Technology, Pasadena Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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36th Annual Corona del Mar Christmas Walk Holiday Festival

Corona del Mar Christmas Walk

Come visit The Boutique Real Estate Group Sunday Dec. 7th from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM for the 36 Annual Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk.  Our door will be open and we will be serving yummy treat & playing Christmas music. This year the Christmas Walk will feature:

–          12 live bands

–          Food tastings from our local restaurants

–          Local Merchants promotions, samples and giveaways.

–          Beer & Wine garden.

–          Santa Claus, Bouncy houses, and a petting zoo.

–          Drawing for over $15,000 in prizes.

The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce is proud to present the community’s most popular event of the year! This is an absolute can’t miss special event filled with holiday festivities for family, friends, residents and visitors looking for a spectacular way to ring in the holiday season. Each year “The Walk” brings together thousands of fun-loving people into the Village of Corona del Mar for live entertainment, food, prizes and games in true holiday spirit!

The Boutique Real Estate Group

3653 E. Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar, Ca 92625

949-612-2535 or Info@TheBoutiqueRE.com

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Michele Chiu: climbing interest rates and the 2015 market

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via Inman

A real estate outlook for 2015

Michele Chiu is a Realtor and consultant at The Boutique Real Estate Group.

Are you optimistic about 2015?

Absolutely. We’ve come a long way since just three years ago in 2011, when home values were slowly rising again, and interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage were just starting to dip below 5 percent. Now, buyers are still enjoying low interest rates, and the sellers who bought their homes after 2006 are finally starting to see a buildup of equity in their homes. This positive trend is projected to grow toward 2015 and 2016.

The economy?

CAR recently came out with the 2015 California Housing Market Forecast, showing that unemployment rates have been steadily decreasing from 7.4 percent last year to about 6.2 percent this year. Next year’s projection for unemployment is predicted to be near 5.8 percent. With falling unemployment rates, we’ll also see a rise in real disposable income: A change of about 2.6 percent more in 2014 than 2013, which should continue to rise through 2015. This means more savings and purchasing power for those who have been saving and planning to purchase a home in 2015.

The housing market?

Here’s the deal: People who bought in 2013 wished they purchased in 2012, and people bought in 2014 wished they purchased in 2013. So what will the buyers for 2015 tell their 2014 selves? Buy now! Why? Four really good reasons: Prices will continue to rise; interest rates are projected to increase; either way you are already paying a mortgage or rent; and if not now, then when? On the other hand, sellers are also enjoying a positive trend in home values and, if priced correctly, will typically sell in three months or less. Overall, we should see the real estate market stabilizing in 2015, with growing home values and higher interest rates.

Your success?

No matter what year it is, I’m always optimistic about my success. To me, success is not only about the growth in my sales, but also the growth in the relationships I nurture and maintain with my clients, and the business lessons I learn throughout the year. This coming year will mark my third year in real estate, as well as the third year I’m truly happy with my career!

What are you worried about?

I’m worried for my buyers who may be priced out of their price range if they don’t take advantage of the current home values and low interest rates. I saw this happen to a handful of my buyers from 2013 onto 2014, where they wanted a number of bedrooms at a certain budget, but due to the rise in interest rates and home values, they could no longer afford the home they wanted and had to extend their lease for yet another year. I predict the same may happen to the current buyers who decide to stay on the fence about their home purchase as values and interest rates will continue to rise.

How much do you fret about global events?

Quite honestly, I don’t have time to fret too much about global events. However, I will add that the recent change in government in China has lead many Chinese investors to move their assets from China to America, effectively driving up all cash sales and home values.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

Up, up, up!

Will home prices appreciate next year?

Yes.

Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?

Since the market is stabilizing, I believe active agents will continue to be productive, while agents who work part-time may see a drop in their sales compared to this year. We saw this happen with production volume in 2013 to 2014 as home values and interest rates continue to rise.

Will the portals play a bigger role in real estate next year?

Today’s buyer will most likely do research on the community and home they are thinking about purchasing prior to contacting an agent. This means they are less and less dependent on their portals for information. The only upper hand we have as agents is being even more knowledgeable about the communities where we work to help our clients differentiate between the facts and myths they read online.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

Client referrals and online marketing, like ZTR, our brokerage-based website and in-house seller capture sites.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?

Being part of The Boutique Real Estate Group always challenges us to think differently and discover different ways to stand out amongst the hundreds of other agents in our community. Personally, I’m planning to team up and collaborate on more marketing strategies with other professionals in the industry. It’s always a good thing to grow your network!

What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?

The challenge next year will be removing the idea anchor of previously lower interest rates for many current buyers. Since many buyers this year will trickle onto next year, buyers may have the feeling that they “missed the boat.” But in reality, interest rates will only continue to grow. As for sellers, many homes currently on the market have started to face a bit of competition this year with all of the new developments in Orange County. Although hundreds of new homes will be hitting the market in 2015, nothing beats a low HOA and no Mello-Roos!

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Items required for a home loan

Important Documents Your Lender Will Need From You.  Yea. It’s a crazy list!

Using this list of key documents, gather all the materials into one online folder so that you’re never scrambling to find the right paperwork.  We suggest dropbox or google drive.

  • Copy of your driver’s license or passport
  • Proof of regular rental or housing payments
  • Copies of your two most recent paycheck stubs
  • Copies of your W-2’s from the past two years
  • Copies of your federal tax returns with all schedules for the past two years – state not needed

 

Are you self-employed?

  • A statement of year-to-date profit-and-loss for the business
  • Copy of any corporate tax returns and K-1’s for the past 2 years

 

Proof of assets:

  • Copy of all current IRA statements, stock and bond accounts, or any other retirement or investment accounts for the past 2 years
  • Copy of current bank statements for each account for the past 2 months
  • Documents on the value of personal property like automobiles
  • Forms showing the face amount and value of life insurance policies
  • Copy of lease agreement for all rental properties
  • Copy of any student loan deferment letter or agreement reflecting the monthly payment

 

Additional documents you may need:

  • If you are divorced, a copy of the final divorce decree
  • If you have filed for bankruptcy, the complete bankruptcy paperwork including discharge paperwork
  • If you are an active veteran, a statement of service, DD-214, and Certificate of Eligibility

 

Shopping Your Loan? Here are some good questions to ask…

Print out the following list and keep it on-hand as you start shopping for your home loan. Meeting with loan officers can be overwhelming — this way you won’t forget to ask important questions.

  • Is the mortgage fixed or variable?
  • If the loan is fixed, what is the interest rate or annual percentage rate (APR) of the loan?
  • If the loan is variable, when does the rate change? And how is the rate change determined?
  • How long are quoted interest rates good for?
  • Is the Good Faith Estimate guaranteed?
  • What are the escrow requirements for taxes and insurance?
  • Is there a penalty for paying off the loan early?
  • Do you allow extra principal payments?
  • How long do funds, say for a down payment, need to be in my bank account before closing?
  • What are all the closing costs? Will you provide a written list?
  • Are any of the costs or fees negotiable, or capable of being waived?
  • Which financial firm will service the loan?
  • How long does the funding process usually take? Are on-time closings guaranteed?
  • What changes, such as employment changes, should I avoid before the loan closes?

 

For questions or comments please contact Allycyn Bennett with United American Mortgage Company at 949-717-7290 or Abennett@uamco.com

To find out the current value of your home please visit http://GetMyHomeWorth.com

Items Needed For A Loan

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© The Boutique Real Estate Group, 2015 - All Rights Reserved | BRE# 01933510