Proper Suit unites technology and tradition in custom suit-making

By: Marika Bastrmajian

What started as a small operation in Richard Hall’s garage five years ago is now a million-dollar success for Hall and co-founder McGregor Madden.  Proper Suit is a technology-based personalized custom suit-maker headquartered in Chicago with studios now in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.

The company prides itself on its high-quality laser-cut suits using AutoCAD technology, that range from $850 to $2,800, depending on the fabric.  After reaching $1.2 million in revenue in 2013, Proper Suit has been pulling in between $130,000 to $150,000 a month in 2014.

As housing recovers, USG mounts a rebound


USG-Earnings-Per-Share-EPS_chartbuilder (1)

By: Marika Bastrmajian


After plunging more than 90 percent when the housing bubble burst, shares of U. S. Gypsum Corp. have been making a slow and steady climb back up as the real estate market recovers.  USG’s historically volatile stock still has plenty of upside potential, experts say– the only question is when the upturn goes into high gear.

As one of the biggest producers and distributors of gypsum wallboard and other building materials, the Chicago-based company fortunes are tied closely to housing sector.   When times are good in the building industry, wallboard prices jump and USG generates lush profits.   But when the building cycle turns down, profits disappear and investors bail out of USG shares.

Continue reading “As housing recovers, USG mounts a rebound”

Equity Residential earnings show continued demand for rentals


By: Marika Bastrmajian

Equity Residential Inc. turned in third quarter earnings that underscore the continued strength of the rental-housing sector, despite the recovery underway in single-family housing.

The Chicago-based real estate investment trust reported normalized funds from operations of $310 million, or 82 cents per diluted share, u from $275 million, or 73 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Normalized FFO, a standard measure of profitability in the REIT sector, is an adjusted look at a real estate investment trust’s financial funds generated by operations; it excludes depreciation and certain other factors.

Continue reading “Equity Residential earnings show continued demand for rentals”

General Growth Properties topped Wall Street estimates in third quarter

General Growth Properties headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop .

By: Marika Bastrmajian

General Growth Properties, the owner and manager of high-quality retailing properties in the U.S., topped analyst’s expectations in its third quarter earnings Tuesday.

The company beat analyst’s expectation of 32 cents for company funds from operations by a penny. Continue reading “General Growth Properties topped Wall Street estimates in third quarter”

Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Level In 8 Years

By: Marika Bastrmajian

Monthly averages for the last year show a steady decline in u unemployment claims.
Monthly averages for the last year show a steady decline in unemployment claims.

Initial unemployment claims fell to their lowest level since pre-recession days, suggesting that the U.S. labor market’s upturn will continue, a government report said Thursday.

In the week ending Oct. 4, seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims came in at 287,000, a modest decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s level, according to the US Department of Labor.

Continue reading “Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Level In 8 Years”

Mortgage Applications Dip Despite Lower Rates

By Marika Bastrmajian

Fewer Americans applied for new mortgages last week compared with the previous week, despite a modest slip in borrowing costs, a trade group reported on Wednesday.

Mortgage application rates fell 0.2 percent for the week ending Sept. 26, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The current drop continues from last week’s 4.1 percent decline, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The MBA measures two different types of mortgage applications: one for home purchases, and the other for refinancing existing mortgages.

The number of refinance applications submitted, which accounted for a sizeable 56 percent of total applications, took a 0.3 percent dip from the previous week.

A dip in home mortgage applications could affect mortgage lenders like Bank of America.

Purchase applications remained unchanged, according to the MBA.

While mortgage rates have risen from historic lows they reached after the housing market crash, they remain low by historic standards. Many other factors influence mortgage application activity, such as home prices, credit availability and all-cash homebuyers.

The average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped for the first time in a month, falling to 4.33 percent from 4.39 percent the prior week, according to the MBA.

“Buyers are finding that homes are not as affordable as they were during the ‘perfect storm’ of home buying two years ago,” said Tim Lucas, editor at, a mortgage information website for consumers.

“Most eligible borrowers have already taken advantage of the rock bottom interest rates,” said Robert Gillis, vice president of Cape Ann Savings Bank. Continue reading “Mortgage Applications Dip Despite Lower Rates”