Top 500 Franchises for 2011

Entrepreneur magazine released their annual Franchise 500 list. The top 5 for 2011 were:
1. Hampton Hotels
2. am/pm
3. McDonald’s
4. 7-11
5. Supercuts

While there have been real estate franchises in the Top 50 several years ago, the highest real estate franchise in the 2011 list came in at #78.

When we were in Vegas, we shopped in a store that’s #415 on the list, Flip Flop Shops, which may be good fit for around here.

The table below lists Real Estate franchises, their 2011 ranking, and when their highest ranking has been in the Franchise 500 list.

2011 rank Top rank
Keller Williams 78 44 (2007)
Coldwell Banker 90 48 (2008)
Real Living 168 168 (2011)
Weichert 322 152(2007)
Advance Realty 323 323 (2011)
Re/Max 359 10 (2008)
ERA 43 (2008)
Help-U-Sell 47 (2007)
Assist-to-Sell 48 (2007)
Realty World 150 (2010)
Realty Executives 179 (2009)
Flat Rate Realty 488 (2009)


Vegas Trip Report

I just got back from a trip to Vegas with my wife and thought I’d share some things.

First, Allegiant Air has some good deals. We flew out of Santa Maria (free parking!) and booked a 3 night stay at the Wynn hotel. The off-season rates allowed us to choose between some strip hotels we wouldn’t pay $500+/night for in tourist season. I chose Wynn as the Allegiant bundled price made it even more attractive. We booked a panoramic view room but when we arrived we were offered an upgrade to a Tower Suite for an extra $5/night. WOOT! The room was amazing. Floor to ceiling windows with an amazing view my wife loved. When you walked in the room you just hit a “All On” button and the lights went on and the window shades opened displaying the view. We also ate at the Wynn buffet. Having tried a lot of the other buffets in Vegas, this was our first time trying the Wynn and both of us ranked it #1. Pricey ($39 for dinner), but worth it considering the cost of other things in Vegas.

We also ate at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. I had been to one of these in Denver but it was my wife’s first time. I really like this place and it would seem it would be a perfect fit for downtown SLO and give Firestone Grill some competition. The server said they had recently changed from franchises to corporate restaurants and they plan to do a lot of expansion.

Nothing drastically new in Vegas since our last trip. They added a zip line in downtown that went down Fremont Street for a block. It was fun to watch but wasn’t interested in paying to do it myself.

If you do take a Allegiant Air vacation, the price they quote isn’t all inclusive. You’ll need to pay taxes for the rental car ($50 for our 4 day rental) and resort fees if the hotel charges them. Also, Allegiant charges $35 to check a bag. If you plan to have a carry-on, you need to make it to check-in pretty early as they give out these colored tags for overhead compartment bags. Once the tags are gone, you have to check your bag but they didn’t charge for that and the wait for the luggage claim at Vegas wasn’t too long. Another nice thing about Allegiant is the line at the Vegas airport isn’t that long for check in. We walked up this morning and there were 2 people ahead of us in line. Much different than the United check-in next to us which had probably 75+ people in line.

If you can take a vacation in the off season, Allegiant Air to Vegas is a good deal. With taxes and hotel fees, airfare for 2 from Santa Maria, 3 nights at the Wynn, and a rental car for 4 days it was around $1100.

Rate Update

The first ever US credit rating downgrade and generally negative reports on the housing sector sent mortgage rates slightly lower last week. Standard & Poor’s affirmed its AAA rating on US debt but cut its long-term ratings outlook from stable to negative. Relative to other AAA-rated peers, the US has very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness. S&P stated that more than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, US policymakers have not agreed on a strategy to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures. Optimists believe that this rating change will give politicians a warning; pessimists feel that this doesn’t change anything, and that the political bickering will continue. National housing data also continued to disappoint with Housing Starts and Building Permits both slightly higher in March following historic lows during the prior month. Existing Home Sales were up 3.7% with distressed home sales making up 40% of total volume. Not surprisingly, homebuilder sentiment remains very low according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 4.375% (4.531% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.625% (3.935% APR). This will be a busy news week with New and Pending Home Sales, Consumer Confidence, Durable Goods Orders, and the Q1 GDP report. Wednesday will feature the FOMC statement and the first post-FOMC press conference from Chairman Bernanke.

New Listing- Two Units in Downtown Morro Bay

Welcome to . . . 685-695 Napa Avenue, Morro Bay, CA 93442 . . . located in a popular harbor town on the gorgeous California Central Coast.

This property offers 2 separate and spacious homes: Each with 3 bedroom/ 2.5 bath, approximately 1380 sq ft, built in 2001. Both homes have a gas fireplace in the living room, a laundry room off of the kitchen, two balconies and an attached 2-car garage. From the front unit you have views of the ocean from the dining area and kitchen. From the back unit you have views of the ocean from the balcony off of the dining area and views of the rock from the living room. The property is zoned Multi-Family R-2 and currently provides total monthly rental income of $3200 for both units.

Morro Heights is located near the Embarcadero, the bay, the ocean, the Town of Morro Bay including the shops and eateries of charming Old Town, the Golf Course and the State Park. NO wonder it is one of the most desirable areas in Morro Bay!

Click Here for more information.

Galaxy Theater in Atascadero

I’ve been wanting to check out the new theater in Atascadero and I got a chance last night. I was specifically looking forward trying the “D-Box” which is a special seat that has motion to go along with the movie. I like to experience the different movie gimmicks. 3D is one but there have been a couple other ones over the years. In the early 80’s, the movie “Midway” advertised that you can feel the war (don’t recall the marketing term they used for the sound). I remember they had these enormous speakers in the theater aisles that shook the entire place during the war scenes. I don’t think it was intended for multi-screen theaters as it shook the entire lobby and I’m sure the other movies too. But it was COOL! Then there was the scratch n’ sniff movie that I can’t recall the name of. They gave us a card and a number would flash on the screen and you were supposed to scratch that number on the card and sniff. So when I read that the new Atascadero theater was one of a few theaters in the country to have D-Box seats, I had to give it a try.

I went and saw the movie Hannah (I think they only have one movie showing with D-Box). When buying tickets, you choose what seat number(s) you want. It’s a whopping $8 extra if you wand a D-box seat so the total ticket price was $19 per person. With D-Box, you have to sit in the seat they assign because they only turn on D-box on the seats purchased. In the theater, there were 2 rows of D-Box seats (the first 2 rows in the back section, which is prime location). On the seat, you can adjust the intensity of the seat motion (one of 4 choices). I had mine turned all the way up. The previews showed but there was no motion. Finally Hannah started and there was a shooting scene at the beginning which kicked the seat into motion. I don’t know if maybe I’m no older than the target audience but I didn’t like D-Box much at all, ok…it sucked! It didn’t really add anything to the movie for me. and was more of a distraction. Yeah, there were some scenes when the motion synced up with something happening on the screen but the seat moved at odd times, like when the camera panned back, the seat back reclined. Made no sense to be moving the seat a lot of the time.

It doesn’t throw you around like those Star Tours rides at amusement parks but those rides are usually less than 10 minutes long. After sitting almost 2 hours in a D-Box seat, I could pretty much identify the set of different moves the chair made and all the difference is the sequence they were programmed to activate. I was wondering if it might be better with another type of movie but I doubt it. While I’m disappointed that D-box didn’t WOW me, I am going to save the $8 for the D-box upgrade. Actually $18 savings since I’m just going to wait until the movies come out on Redbox and I can watch the movie in my comfy chair for $1.

New Listing! One of a Kind Luxury Property

Looking for the ultimate in luxury, serenity, and privacy?  Built by Kenny Roger’s manager, Ken Kragen, this home has seen the stars.  Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and many more country music stars have been guests.  And, with your own observatory, you can see even more stars.

Over 8000 sq. ft. of luxury in the main home, 2 complete guest homes, stables, green house, tennis court, on almost 750 acres in the wine and horse country of Paso Robles.

In the main home, the elevator will take you from the wine cellar to the 3rd floor observatory (with telescope and sliding roof).  6 bedrooms, incredible master suite, 7 bathrooms, formal dining room and wet bar, gourmet kitchen, the list is endless.

The property is a full functioning ranch breeding and training race horses.  3 wells provide ample water for any new ranching or farming needs.  Over 300 olive trees grace the drive and provide another income opportunity.  Solar system will take you completely off the grid.  110 acres of irrigated pasture to raise your own alfalfa or oats, or turn it into a vineyard.

The possibilities are endless.  Give it a look.

More Information Here

Moving season is approaching, be prepared!

With moving season approaching, it is very common for the media to do stories on rouge moving companies and most importantly, how to protect you from such shady operators. A great website and likely the #1 consumer advocacy website is This site has thousands of posts

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