1. Not Everybody’s Broke

Courtesy Trump Hotel Collection  

Chicago’s most expensive condos still sell well. Even as Chicago copes with a two-year supply of distressed homes to sell, and as new-home sales fall to a tenth of what they were five years ago, resales of 31 of 49 condominiums in Trump International Hotel recently sold at 9 percent more than their first owners paid for them. At The Waldorf Astoria Chicago five out of seven sales were higher than the original cost.

Listings for Trump condos range from $329,770 for 609-square-feet to $32 million for a 14,260-square-foot unit.

2. Fee Simple

A California town drops impact fees to restart construction.

2Last September Sanger, Calif., voted to waive impact fees for developers who restart unfinished subdivisions and who buy many of their materials from local businesses. Soon after, Evergreen Communities of Sacramento, Calif., pulled Royal Woods, a 187-home subdivision that lay idle for four years, out of mothballs, making it the first community to restart construction in years.

“Local building products manufacturers ... say they will have to add employees to meet the demands of revived residential construction,” says Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell.

3. Copper War

An Arizona town is divided over a proposed mining operation.

3A Canadian-based mining company is promising the residents of Florence, Ariz., more higher-paying jobs if it is allowed to mine the copper deep beneath the city. Residents and builders are worried the process will pollute the historic town’s water.

Between 400 and 800 feet below the crop lands and state prisons in Florence lies copper that Curis Resources says it can extract affordably by pumping millions of gallons of sulfuric acid into the ground. The acid would dissolve the copper into the water, which would then be pumped out and stripped of the metal. Mining cost: 70 cents a pound. Sales price: $4 a pound.

Curis says the mining would occur far below the town’s water supply and promises hundreds of jobs that pay 44 percent more than the state average, a boon since most residents make less than average wages.

4. Made in Alabama

The state is a major exporter to the world.

Courtesy Toyota  

4Forget cotton and corn. Cars and coal are the biggest of Alabama’s growing exports. The value of the state’s exports climbed to $17.9 billion in 2011, up 15.4 percent, and more of those goods are headed to the Far East. Japan imports cars and car parts made in Alabama factories, and Hong Kong bought $261 million in various commodities last year.

But closer customers buy a greater portion of Alabama’s goods. Canada, Germany, and Mexico were its top export destinations last year, the governor’s office says. By dollar value, the state’s top exports were vehicles, coal, industrial machinery, plastics, electrical machinery, iron/steel, measuring instruments, aircraft, and wood pulp.

5. Baltimore Blight Flight

Mortgage foreclosure fines are set to pay to demolish houses.

5Baltimore plans to tear down blighted houses using fines levied on mortgage servicers who were too quick to throw delinquent borrowers out of their homes.

The city wants to demolish 4,400 homes to decrease crime and extinguish rodents. But its $10 million share of the fines is only enough to remove 700 of the cheaper demolitions at about $13,600 each, says the Baltimore Sun.

It would cost $165 million to tear down all 4,400 homes, $13,000 a house for the demolition and another $14,000 if its neighbor’s wall needs to be repaired. If the home is owner occupied, add another $170,000. Federal law requires the city to provide a similar home to the occupant. Evicting renters costs about $85,000 each to pay the difference between the original rent and new rent for five years.

For more information on local markets go to www.builderonline.com/local-markets.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL, Baltimore, MD.