(Bloomberg) -- The number of California homes that sold for at least $1 million reached a five-year high in 2012, fueled by a recovering economy and a record number of cash purchases, DataQuick said Wednesday.
A total of 26,993 homes sold for at least $1 million last year, up 27 percent from 21,267 in 2011, the San Diego-based data provider said. It was the most since 2007, when 42,502 homes crossed the threshold, DataQuick said.
High-end sales were buoyed by a record number of cash purchases, according to DataQuick.
Last year, 7,791 buyers of million-dollar homes paid in cash, up from 5,802 in 2011.
In areas such as Santa Monica, Ross in Marin County and Los Altos in Santa Clara County, “virtually all home sales” were for $1 million or more, the firm said.
“Buyers and sellers in the prestige market tend to respond to different motivations and incentives than the rest of the market,” John Walsh, DataQuick's president, said.
“Job security, down-payment sizes and mortgage interest rates don't play the same role. Returns on investments in a low-interest-rate financial environment and safe-haven investing do play a role.”
The number of California homes sold for more than $5 million rose to a record last year, climbing to 697 from 491 in 2011, DataQuick said.
In the $4 million-to-$5 million range, a record 460 homes sold, up from 344 in 2011.
The most expensive confirmed purchase last year in California was an 8,930-square-foot Woodside home with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. It sold for $117.5 million in November, DataQuick said.
D.R. Horton offering
(Bloomberg) -- D.R. Horton Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder by volume, plans to raise $700 million in a two-part bond offering.
The company intends to issue $300 million of senior notes due 2020 and $400 million of securities maturing 2025, the Fort Worth, Texas-based homebuilder said Wednesday in a regulatory filing.
Proceeds from the offering, which would add to the firm's $2.36 billion of notes outstanding, will be used for general corporate purposes.
D.R. Horton's $350 million of 4.375 percent debt due September 2022 traded Tuesday at 103.3 cents on the dollar to yield 3.97 percent, or 196 basis points more than similar maturity Treasuries, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
The company's stock rose to its highest level in almost six years Tuesday after reporting that earnings more than doubled in the fiscal first quarter.
D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI) is rated Ba2 by Moody's Investors Service (NYSE: MCO) and BB- at Standard & Poor’s.
(AP) -- About 155 acres of rural Southeast Texas will go up in flames in a California school's research project to gauge the impact of wildfires on grasslands during windy weather.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the Galveston area Wednesday afternoon at a time when the controlled burn is scheduled.
Emergency preparedness officials say motorists along state Highway 6 and Interstate 45 might see smoke coming from the University of Houston Coastal Center.
San Jose State University climate researchers say the half-hour burn experiment will measure fire atmospheric interactions on the tall grass prairie.
April Saginor with the Texas A&M Forest Service said experts want to capture some extreme fire behavior for the study.
Several fire departments and the U.S. Forest Service are also assisting.
UK homebuilder loans
(Bloomberg) -- Bovis Homes Group Plc, a U.K. homebuilder, raised 150 million pounds ($237 million) of loans from a group of five lenders to extend the maturity of its debt.
Banco Santander SA, Barclays Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Svenska Handelsbanken AB provided a 125 million-pound revolving credit facility that matures March 2017, Jonathan Hill, group finance director, said.
One of the banks also provided a 25 million-pound three-year loan, according to a statement from the Longfield, England-based company.
The debt refinances a 150 million-pound 3 1/2-year facility maturing in September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Under a revolver, money repaid can be borrowed again.
A&F store dispute
(Bloomberg) -- The Beatles' former London headquarters, where the band performed for the last time on the rooftop, may become an Abercrombie & Fitch Co. store after planning authorities recommended the proposal, following objections from retailers in the area.
The U.S. company intends to open a children's outlet at 3 Savile Row, which is listed as a historic preservation site, according to documents sent to the Westminster borough council before a vote next week.
The property is close to century-old tailors' shops like Gieves & Hawkes, H. Huntsman & Sons and Henry Poole & Co.
The building housed the offices of the Beatles' Apple Records label when the band’s final 1969 performance was filmed for the movie “Let It Be.”
Abercrombie (NYSE: ANF), whose stores for teens and adults are known for their nightclub vibe with shirtless employees and subdued lighting, shouldn't be allowed to have models stand at the entrances, hold promotional events featuring celebrities at the shop or play loud music, planners recommended.
Househam Henderson Architects will oversee the development of the terraced townhouse built in 1773.
The building's leasehold is owned by AFH Stores U.K. Ltd., according to a filing to the Land Registry.
Apple Records sold the property in 1980, a document filed with the planning application shows.
The plan to open a new store sparked protest among retailers including the Savile Row Bespoke Association, which seeks to preserve the area's character as a center for upmarket men’s tailoring.
“It is necessary to provide specific protection for the unique clusters of specialist uses, which are central to London's character, and ensure these clusters are not eroded by pressure from other commercial uses,” Mark Henderson, chairman of Gieves & Hawkes, said.
(Bloomberg) -- Solar-power installations in Greece more than doubled last year driven by the European Union's highest tariffs even as the government planned a tax on revenue for existing projects.
New photovoltaic capacity was 912 megawatts compared with 425 megawatts in the previous year, taking installations to 1,536 megawatts, according to figures from lobby group Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies.
This compares with 624 megawatts operating at the end of 2011.
Greece, which is targeting 2,200 megawatts of solar power by 2020, introduced the above-market rates in 2009 and has become one of Europe's growth markets for the technology in the last year.
The increase comes in spite of two reductions last year in subsidies paid through a feed-in tariffs and a tax approved in November that reduce revenue to all solar plants by 25 percent to 30 percent.
New solar installations in Greece last year represented an investment of at least 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), according to the research company.
Five solar complexes with a combined 724 megawatts have been granted fast track status as Greece seeks to accelerate strategic investments, according to the official investment promotion agency.
Last year, about two thirds of the solar plants completed were mid-sized on commercial or industrial sites, while residential plants amounted to 19 percent.
The largest, those with more than 2 megawatts, represented 13 percent.