1. Google keeps growing in Seattle area, agrees to buy nearly 10 acres at a car dealership site in Kirkland | GeekWire
Google’s footprint in Seattle just keeps on growing.
The Alphabet-owned tech giant signed an agreement to purchase land at a car dealership site in Kirkland, Wash., a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
Business Insider and Bloomberg reported the news last week. King County records obtained by GeekWire show a sale of nearly 10 acres of land at 11845 NE 85th St., home of Lee Johnson car dealerships. There is no purchase price available yet.
Google did not provide more details. “The site is intended to support Google’s future growth in the area,” a spokesperson said.
It’s the latest expansion for Google this year, even amid the ongoing pandemic that has forced some companies to pull back on physical office space with a shift to remote work.
2. October existing home sales see ‘spectacular’ 26.6% annual gain even with short supply and surging prices | CNBC
Sales of existing homes in October soared well past expectations, rising 4.3% compared with September and 26.6% annually to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6.85 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, called the annual increase “a spectacular gain.”
The annualized sales rate is the highest since February 2006. The highest pace ever was in 2005 at 7.1 million units.
The data reflect closed sales representing contracts signed in August and September .
Scrolling through real estate listings in far-flung destinations is a way to visualize an alternate life, whether you’re trying to move or not.
Millions of people have spent far more time at home than they expected to this year. It’s made many of them daydream about what it might be like to live somewhere else, often while scrolling through listings on Zillow.
“I go into neighborhoods that obviously I can’t afford as a college student and look at my ideal house and fantasize about when this is all over,” said Crystal Silva, 20, who lives in North Carolina. She spends hours at a time surfing the app, touring homes she’ll never buy.
She’s likely not alone in that. Zillow usage has climbed since March, with online visitors to for-sale listings up more than 50 percent year-over-year in the early months of the pandemic.
The Treasury Department is looking to extend a handful of the Federal Reserve programs used to get markets through the early days of the coronavirus crisis but is going to end several others that expire at the end of the year.
The move drew a swift rebuke from the Fed, which wanted to continue the programs.
Among those that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked the Fed to continue for another 90 days are programs that provided short-term “commercial paper” loans to businesses, as well as another for money market functioning and a backstop related to the Paycheck Protection Program.
Wendy’s disclosed Thursday it has submitted a bid to buy nearly 400 restaurants under its own name and operated by bankrupt franchisee NPC Quality Burgers.
NPC filed for bankruptcy protection in July and started a process to sell its assets, including its interests in Wendy’s restaurants across eight different markets.
Restaurants have been among the worst hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many dining chains, including California Pizza Kitchen, Chuck E. Cheese parent CEC Entertainment and Rubio’s Restaurants, filing for bankruptcy.
Wendy’s said it remains committed to maintaining its ownership level at about 5 percent of the total Wendy’s system. The burger chain expects several existing and new franchisees, part of the consortium bid, to buy most of the NPC markets, with Wendy’s buying one or two at most.
Mortgage rates in the U.S. have hit another record low.
The average for a 30-year, fixed loan tumbled to 2.72%, down from 2.84% last week and the lowest in data going back almost 50 years, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. It was the 13th record low this year. The previous one, 2.78%, held for two weeks.
Americans are racing to scoop up homes, taking advantage of 30-year loan costs that have been below 3% since July. While the boom is a key source of strength for the pandemic economy, demand is far outstripping supply, sparking bidding wars and pricing many would-be buyers out of the market.
Though humans historically provided concierge services for commercial buildings, guiding visitors to their destinations and answering questions, artificial intelligence and computer vision have advanced to the stage where fully digital alternatives can offer the same or better guidance. So Resonai is targeting enterprises with today’s launch of Vera Concierge, an augmented reality system that replaces any commercial location’s human help desk with a fully mobile, personalized AI assistant.
Based on Resonai’s Vera platform, Concierge allows enterprises to provide personalized and location-aware guidance to customers and visitors inside any physical space. From the end user’s perspective, Concierge is a quick mobile app download that uses an augmented reality interface to provide live granular navigation guidance, contextually specific information, and individual assistance while walking through a commercial space. Users can also check in or register directly within the app, triggering notifications to relevant tenants.
8. With new cash and a former Apple exec now at the helm, Connect Homes is ready to reconstruct homebuilding | TechCrunch
Greg Leung had worked at Apple for years and was coming off of a stint at the smart lock company Otto, when he got the call to interview with Connect Homes.
The pitch — building a starter home for a much lower cost than other prefabricated houses on the market, and one that could be dropped in to locations in the urban core of most cities — was too good to pass up.
“Basically, it’s a beautiful product, but done in a way that disrupts and transforms the way homes are built,” said Leung.
The homes come in 14 standardized configurations and can scale from 460 square foot up to 3200 square feet. What differentiates the company from its competitors, says Leung, is the speed with which Connect Homes can build a house, putting up a full house in six days.
9. GM doubles down on commitment to electric vehicles, increases spending to $27B | Fox Business Network
GM’s electric vehicles projected to have 450 mile range
General Motors is going all-in on electric vehicles, increasing its commitment to electric vehicle development to $27 billion over the next five years and devoting more than half of its capital spending to its electric vehicle programs.
Between Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and Buick, GM is aiming to have 30 different electric vehicle models that span the spectrum from work to family use by 2025.
A breakthrough in GM’s battery technology will make this all-electric future possible.
The next generation of Ultium battery packs is projected to have twice the energy density while costing 60% less, giving the cars a 450 mile range.
Canvas, a company that uses machine learning to install drywall at construction sites, emerged from stealth today. Canvas was founded in 2017 and uses a modified JLG lift, robotic arm, and sensors to automate drywall installation.
Once that task is perfected, Canvas plans to expand into areas like painting and spray-on insulation. The company focuses on commercial construction sites larger than 10,000 square feet, and Canvas’ founders say its machines operate faster and at a higher level of quality than humans working without a robot.
“A lot of our knowledge here comes from working with the U.S. military on surface preparation and finishing and other things like aircraft and ship vehicles,” Canvas founder Kevin Albert told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Whereas some robotics companies sell or rent hardware, Canvas machines are run by trained workers from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.