Local Business Reporting

Just the facts here, ma'am

I don’t read any news any more. I left metropolis to come work at Clute because small businesses matter. From real estate to breweries, small businesses drive the whole world. Also Clark was getting obnoxious.

Louis Lane

Chief Executive Reporter on Local Business, Daily Planet

Locals Only

What does your address say about you

What does your address say about you

What does curb appeal really mean anymore? Certainly it starts with “Oh wow” and solidified by unidenfied, subconsious details a potential buyer picks up on a property. Things like lawn manicuring, window framing, roof angle. None of these things are inherently ‘nice’ or even expensive yet they make almost all the difference in a market where everything is 3500 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Home appraisers are supposed to be objective and formulaic in how they assign dollar values but humans by nature are not objective or formulaic. Put an appraiser in a stunning spanish villa with marble, teak and sconces everywhere – but make it smell like rotten produce – and you bet your value is going down the tubes.

All that in mind, the only thing you can’t change about a house are it’s physical location, so make that decision definitive and buy the cheapest piece of garbage you can get with the word ‘upgrade’ in mind. Don’t believe me? Look up the statistics of home values located within walking distance of a cinnabon and you will be floored by what you find. Buy the zip code, the local shops/bars/schools, and the proximity to freeways. Everything else is subject to change. People down in south county value their living based on extremely arbitrary details. For example, would you ever expect a single bridge to make or break the value of a community?

LAGUNA NIGUEL – A bridge that delivers a popular shortcut between Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel will remain open to one way traffic for at least the next 45 days despite an announcement last week that it could be shut.

Officials with the South Orange County Wastewater Authority, which possesses the AWMA Bridge, said March 10 that it would shut the bridge because of concerns about its stability.

The bridge joins Alicia Parkway in Laguna Niguel to the Laguna Niguel position centre of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and Aliso Viejo’s Wood Canyon neighborhood (including Wood Canyon Elementary and Community Roots Academy).

SOCWA is looking to provide the bridge to the county along with $1 million to rebuild it. However, the Board of Supervisors chosen to not make a choice on the suggestion of the bureau, and closed door discussions on Wednesday didn’t afford a selection on bridge’s future.

In a last ditch effort to maintain the bridge open, the county and SOCWA agreed Friday to keep the bridge open until May 5 to enable property negotiations to continue. No date has been set for the next discussion meeting.

“SOCWA will continue to finance the security at the bridge to monitor the safe use,” said General Manager Betty Burnett. “However, that is not a long-term option, and when the Bridge Plan or another mutually satisfactory arrangement isn’t reached in the additional dialogue period, then the bridge will have to be closed.”

A 2010 SOCWA assessment discovered that the bridge was becoming less stable over time. In 2014, the county pegged the expense of replacing the bridge at $3.8 million.

Since March 2015, the bridge has been restricted to one-way traffic into Aliso Viejo, and bridge access has been limited by a SOCWA guard to one car at a time.


Pretty crazy how much home value is assigned to its surroundings isn’t it?

Fortunately for Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo new home buyers, the communities hold their value regardless of details like bridges and cinnamon roll bakeries. Take the In n Out from Auburn and you’re left with a wasteland. But Laguna Niguel without the tiny bridge is just slightly less desirable. I’m sure the residents can comfort themselves by looking around at the endless restaurants, art galleries, palm trees and rolling green hills.

Take a look at the two places mentioned above




Overview of Laguna Niguel's most valuable resource: real estate

Curb appeal means more with the write zip code. Laguna Niguel home owners know that

Here are a couple more homes for sale in Laguna Niguel


This one is a great bargain and prime for a fixup and resale at 4 times the value


Happy home hunting and remember where real value originates: between the left and right ear. Buy the location, not the home.

Where Mastery Originates

10,000 hours is a common measurement for mastering a task. Results are a much better way to really track prowess for two reasons. First, ten thousand hours can be phoned in. Sure some skill has to sink in even when practiced half heartedly but imagine all of the ingrained inefficiencies and bad habits that that over a year of hours can instill!  It’s a mistake to assume that mere time makes mastery unless consistency is the goal. Consistency is really only useful for programmable assembly-line logic. Consider how many ‘quality control’ managers exist all over the world and how many ‘experts’ exist among them. They can expertly perform their job but does that make them an expert in the product they inspect? A holistic view of that product would probably yield different results that only a few CEOs and inventors can appreciate – taking an idea to profit to growth. Forbes had an interesting article on how to grow a small business that pointed out the value of building a business from content up. Whether or not that business succeeds is a far better indicator of the founder’s skill than how long she spent working it. Take for example, the real estate niche where there are about a million realtors all over the country claiming to be experts in their market. Many of whom point to their age and time in the industry as indicators of their mastery. Would you consider a seasoned agent with 15 years of experience selling homes to be an expert? Sure. What about the agent who has spent 2 years dominating the Hollywood Hills housing market and claimed a 35% marketshare for himself in the most expensive real estate in the country? Most would call that expertise as well but he may not have spent anywhere close to 10 thousand hours.

Maybe the answer falls somewhere in between where being a local expert matters only so long as results are on par for the industry over time. Master – maybe. Veteran – certainly. Imagine your real estate brokerage has been around for 4 years, fairly new in your competitive market but selling Aliso Viejo realty has never been a cake walk. By that point you should have a good idea of your typical buyers, sellers and what agents need to do to close typical homes. Now figure you’ve got a prospect that steps into the office who wants to buy a home but has never been in the position to buy a new mattress let alone a home. Those oddball situations require problem solving and genuine expertise beyond what the routine can instill. As Mr. Gates points out, the person who makes it to 10,000 hours just happens to be more fanatical about the craft than her peers. An agent that answers the same phone calls and sells the same neighborhoods for years is not necessarily passionate and therefore becomes more of a veteran than a master. To really master a craft like dominating a local market in real estate, passion and drive are the real keys.
Moral of the story, don’t buy a home from any hokey old agent who says they’ve been doing it for a long time. Work with the agent that moves houses like Sprinkles moves cupcakes because they’re certainly more passionate and success-driven. A real estate master agent should be able to file paperwork at light speed without a single papercut and close a home sale without breaking a sweat. Don’t settle for anything less.

The Devils in the Details

So the new Avengers trailer is out the buzz is deafening. No one can wait to see what masterpiece marvel has cooked up this time. The last movie brought in 10 figures at box office but can Joss Whedon pull of the ultimate form of cash invention again? The comics franchise has arguably created some of the most gripping (and intricate) stories ever written so it becomes the job of the renowned writers and director to unwind the ball of string and chose the line to follow for recreating one of the most successful hero-villain arcs in the history of the comic.  As I’m sure the writers are already blindingly aware, the devil’s in the details of a movie like Avengers. When you get a mashup of characters and fans with generations of hard copy to reference, things can get ugly if every frame is not perfect. Accordingly, it looks like Whedon and the crew are really doing their homework and releasing the trailers in response to the various fan outcries.

In a similar vein of detail oriented design for master plans, the news cannot stop talking about the continually rising price of gas. Obviously the market could not slide much longer even though it was luxurious while it lasted. As prices start to rebound, the industry is booming with new land plays and the details of the necessity of oil and gas legal services in Texas while the courthouse obligations start to pile up. If I had to choose between being the director of an ultra-(or should I say ultron)-blockbuster-(or should I say hulkbuster) film like Avengers and being an oil and gas attorney given the heat of the market right now, I’d choose the ultron-hulkbuster ten times out of ten. Detail management that has legal repercussions seems far more important when tectonic plates like energy companies are at play seems like enough stress to turn you green in no time.

To be fair, every community niche has it’s armageddon. Ever felt like working in the post office on Dec 22nd? How about the dive bar during the title fight. Similarly, the whole country barrels down to laguna during the early spring to catch the sunshine fever that California invariably offers year after year. In Laguna Hills, the crowds tend to slow in awe of the beautiful homes around them after a long lazy day at the beach. Real estate agents tend to take this time to spring into action (no pun intended) and even the blind squirrels among them tend to find a nut or two. But the best real estate agents recognize the opportunity and close deals right and left. It’s about as stressful as being a salmon fisherman during spawning season. Managing the needs of home buyers looking to purchase their own home for a sale in Laguna Hills. Any agent can read the MLS and find a house in the right price range but few agents can really find the home for a family AND make both parties feel like they are getting the right price. That kind of skill separates the agents from the weekenders. The devil’s in the details in any field and whether it be the giants like film, finance, oil and gas, or real estate or even smaller markets like jewelry sales, know your niche and the critics will be trampled by the fans. Meanwhile the market churns on and real estate cycles continue and Laguna Niguel stays beautiful.
Laguna Niguel and local communities like Laguna Hills are worth their weight in gold if listed properly

Where OC business makes the handshake

Selling homes in San Clemente with integrityAt home? That’s a pretty gutsy move I’d say. The difference between most business owners and the guys who can successfully sell sunshine in Orange county is that the people ready to walk into the office of a sunshine dealer are ready to buy from a well prepared marketing campaign. NO – I repeat -NO business can expect to succeed if it has idiots working the front desk, a marketing director asleep at the wheel writing 5000 word press releases that are never actually released and a band of salesmen who spend more time behind their desk refreshing their emails than meeting clients out in the field. Selling things is a useful skill but businesses that are all sale and no potato are bound to die when upset clients come knocking -or worse telling their friends- how bad their service was at a local shop that lives and dies by word of mouth. The lifeline today is not word of mouth it is niching and repeatable leads. The only way you can practically guarantee a steady stream of new business is to establish a good rapport in your community and build the best danged website around and make sure it gets in front of the right audiences. One business owner who is changing the way people buy homes is a guy down in San Clemente. This top San Clemente realtor knows how to establish a personal relationship with home buyer and see them through to finding the perfect home. Real estate gets easy when you are a good salesman. He went above and beyond being a good real estate agent, he was a friend who wanted to ensure I found the right home.

In a branch similarly run by folks that are all about selling but usually good at business, financial planning is getting hot as the dow continues to growIrvine investment advisers are ready to grow your business money out of thin air. Stock prices start climbing and MBA students keep graduating hoping to manage clients’ money. Irvine is one hub for tech giants, specialty manufacturing, and innovation and consequentially the number of Edward Jones offices has grown along with the business parks. Independent financial planners in Irvine are all fighting for a select group of financially successful individuals hoping to tap into the growth that Wall Street is enjoying. Growth doesn’t really mean much to a big business besides a few people that sit behind a board room table but to a small business, growth is tremendous. Investment advisers help small business owners make the right decisions every day and separate themselves from the mass of online competitors by offering a genuine connection beyond a simple etrade feedback email. This is reporting at its finest.