One World Trade Center is tallest building in US


The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has determined that the official height of One World Trade Center in New York City is 1,776 feet (541.3 meters) to its architectural top, making it the tallest building in the US over the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago. The key to the determination was that the addition at the top of the building spire integral to the design of the building as opposed to being just an antenna. Naturally, this will spark some controversy, but the CTBUH is the organization that makes these official determinations.

We snapped this photo of this still unfinished building recently from the Trump hotel in Soho which provided an excellent view. One World Trade Center is certainly a beautiful and welcome addition to the New York City skyline.


Loft alternatives to home demolition

Here’s a very interesting article out of Cleveland on how certain older homes can be rehabbed into loft-type homes by ripping out most of the walls and most of the second floor. It works with certain older homes that are constructed in a way that makes this treatment feasible.

This offers an excellent alternative to demolishing the home. We’re talking about older homes that are worth basically nothing and then can be rehabbed in this way for under $10,000. Then they can be rented for around $500 per month, which seems like a very interesting investment.


Some signs point to an improving economy

Things were starting to look pretty grim earlier this summer as job growth slowed and manufacturing activity slowed down, but now we’re starting to see some signs of life in the economy.

After a spring and summer of weak economic indicators, a flurry of fresh data suggest key sectors of the economy might be gaining traction, just as the battle for the White House enters the final round.

The long-moribund housing market has bustled to life, with prices and new-home construction rising in recent weeks. Hiring, so weak earlier this year, picked up last month. And on Thursday, the government reported an acceleration of a downward trend in the number of people seeking unemployment insurance, as well as a sharp improvement in U.S. exports.

The housing news is key, as we were never going to have significant GDP or job growth without reaching a bottom in the housing market as Warren Buffett explained many times.


Will housing drive economic growth in 2012?

The housing slump has been a killer for economic growth since the great crash of 2008. Many people think we won’t be able to get the economy going until the housing market recovers. We’ve heard some good news lately, with an unexpected jump in housing sales at the end of 2011. Some bankers like Jamie Diamond are calling the bottom in real estate.

It will be interesting to see what happens. As we work through the housing inventory, consumers are finally feeling better about the economy. This could spark another home improvement boom. One thing to look for in 2012 is the health of retailers like Home Depot. If more Americans are feeling better about the economy and more homes start selling, then we could see this drive economic growth.

There are so many resources out there for consumers to do work on their homes. In-store shopping at places like home depot are very popular, as are online options. You can do research on price and design options very easily online. You can shop for furniture and other needs, like buying picture frames here, and you can save so much time and money while making your home look beautiful.

We’ve seen the auto industry recover. Now if we can see housing and home improvement make gains as well, then we might finally be on our way to a real recovery.


Housing starts surge

There’s a ton of demand out there for apartments as many Americans turn to renting as opposed to buying homes. With this demand, more apartments will be built and that’s having an effect on housing starts.

U.S. housing starts surged to a 1-1/2 year high in November and permits for future construction were the highest since March 2010 as demand for rental apartments rose, offering hope for the weak housing market.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday housing starts jumped 9.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units, the highest since April last year.

October’s starts were revised down to a 627,000-unit pace from a previously reported 628,000 unit rate.
Building permits, a gauge of future construction, rose by 5.7 percent. The increase was spurred by more apartment permits.

New homes have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates three jobs for a year and $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Although the overall housing market remains weak, rising demand for rental apartments is boosting the construction of multifamily homes.

Falling house values and stringent lending practises by banks are pushing Americans away from homeownership.

The rate is still below the rate needed for a healthy economy, but the trend is in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see how this trend plays out, and it offer business opportunities for people who can exploit these trends. The buying vs renting debate on real estate is definitely tilted now towards renting with the tight bank lending practices.


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