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Mobile park 1031 in Mesa

Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI) announced the $4.5 million sale of Patio Garden Mobile Home Community, a 90-site, senior manufactured home community (MHC) in Mesa, Ariz., as part of a 1031 exchange for a San Diego apartment portfolio listed by Aaron Bove and Brian Barnard of the broker's San Diego office.

The mobile home transaction was facilitated by Douglas Danny who specializes in MHC/RV resorts and is a first vice president and senior director of the Marcus & Millichap National Manufactured Home Community Group in the broker's San Diego office.

The fully occupied property consists of 73 mobile home sites and 17 annual RV sites. The community was built in 1977 on 9.52 acres consists of a clubhouse, laundry facilities, a car and RV wash and has direct gas and electric service, city water and a septic system.

Lasers for birds

(AP) -- An electric utility in Hawaii is experimenting with using lasers to protect migrating seabirds.

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said Tuesday it's attaching 30 lasers to transmission poles. The lasers will shine beams across six spans next to coffee fields.

Threatened species, including the Newell's Shearwater and the Hawaiian Petrel, are being injured and killed when they fly into lines and poles while migrating to sea at night.

Researchers hope the birds will avoid these collisions when they see the lights.

The lasers are similar to laser pointers but they won't threaten aircraft because the beams are parallel to the ground. They're also not being used in designated air space.

IKEA expands solar

(AP) -- IKEA has expanded its solar power system on top of its Perryville, Md., distribution center.

The home furnishings retailer plugged in the solar array on Tuesday.

Installation of the new solar panels began in the fall of 2013. The project has nearly doubled in size since then.

The company says the amount of solar power produced will allow the facility to mostly use its own energy.

Last year, IKEA completed solar installations on top of nearly 90 percent of its U.S. buildings, or 39 out of 44 locations.

The distribution center began operations in 2002.

It employs about 550 people, and currently helps provide inventory to many U.S. IKEA stores.

Blackstone buys NYC tower

(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group LP, one of the largest U.S. office landlords through its Equity Office unit, agreed to buy Park Avenue Tower in midtown Manhattan for about $750 million, said three people with knowledge of the deal.

The seller is San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties LLC. The office building at 65 E. 55th St. has about 615,850 square feet and was built in 1986.

Law firm Paul Hastings LLP, which leases 16 of the building's 35 floors, is vacating when its agreement is up in 2016, giving Blackstone (NYSE: BX) the opportunity to raise rents when it finds a new tenant, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deal is private.

Another occupant, hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management, also plans to move, they said.

Blackstone in 2007 was set to acquire Park Avenue Tower as part of its $39 billion purchase of what was then known as Equity Office Properties Trust.

Simultaneous with that deal's closing, the company arranged for Equity Office to sell Park Avenue Tower and six other New York buildings to developer Harry Macklowe for about $7 billion.

Macklowe was forced to hand back the properties to lenders during the credit crisis and Shorenstein acquired the building for about $625 million in 2008.

The building's original developer, George Klein of Park Tower Realty, will retain a small stake, said the people with knowledge of the Blackstone deal.

Manhattan leasing

(Bloomberg) -- Lower Manhattan office leasing surged in the first half, pushing down vacancies as tenants took advantage of some of the borough's lowest rents, Cushman & Wakefield Inc. reported.

Agreements were signed for 3.7 million square feet downtown in the year through June, the New York-based brokerage said Wednesday.

The vacancy rate dropped to 10 percent from 12.2 percent at the end of 2013.

Leasing in lower Manhattan gained momentum as “sticker shock” in the midtown south market drove media and technology tenants to seek cheaper alternatives to the vintage buildings in that area, roughly between 30th and Canal streets, according to Donald Noland, regional research director at Cushman.

Landlords were offering space in older, less well-appointed office buildings in midtown south -- which includes such neighborhoods as the Flatiron District, Chelsea and Soho -- at about $63 a square foot, he said.

That compares with about $40 a square foot for similar properties in lower Manhattan. Rents downtown will rise as the vacancy rate falls, Noland said.

Magazine publisher Time Inc. (NYSE: TIME) last month decided to relocate its headquarters from Midtown, taking 700,000 square feet at 225 Liberty St. in Brookfield Place.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK), the world's biggest custody bank, agreed to rent about 350,000 square feet in the same building in the complex, owned by Brookfield Property Partners LP (NYSE: BPY). Financial terms of the leases weren’t disclosed.

Offshore wind auction

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of the Interior plans to auction about 80,000 acres off the Maryland coast for commercial wind-energy development.

Sixteen companies are expected to submit bids for an area where turbines may produce enough electricity for 300,000 homes.

There are no offshore wind farms in U.S. waters and the Interior Department is seeking to encourage development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has awarded five commercial-scale leases for offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia.

The competitive sales have raised more than $5 million across almost 278,000 acres of federal water.

HSBC settles

(Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc agreed to pay $10 million to settle U.S. allegations that it overcharged Fannie Mae and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Federal Housing Administration on foreclosure fees.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan Tuesday gave final approval to the accord which settles a whistle-blower lawsuit and a fraud suit filed by the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Bharara's office said.

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, provided residential mortgage loan services such as collecting mortgage payments and pursuing foreclosures.

The London-based bank failed to maintain a quality control program to review its services and also to ensure all costs submitted to Fannie Mae for reimbursement were reasonable, the U.S. said.

The failure cost FHA and Fannie Mae millions of dollars, the government said.

The bank accepted responsibility for failing to create or maintain the systems from May 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2010, according to the settlement.

Those systems included reviews of fees and charges submitted by outside law firms hired by HSBC (NYSE: HSBC) to pursue foreclosures, according to the settlement.

The private whistle-blower lawsuit, which the United States joined, remains sealed and the government continues its investigation, according to the statement.

The case is U.S. v. HSBC, 13-cv-1467, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

UK cheap homes

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's administration plans to accelerate the building of cheap homes, addressing a dip that will probably be reported just before next year’s election, said a government official familiar with the plans.

While official projections show total housing completions and private housing starts will rise this year, that may change next year as a government-sponsored program to build cheaper houses for rent and sale ends in April 2015.

Since the spending was front-loaded, statistics due before May next year will probably show a fall in total housing starts.

The BBC reported Tuesday that housing starts may be down about 4 percent.

Ministers will ensure the 1.7 billion-pound ($2.3 billion) Affordable Homes Program 2015-18 can start building 165,000 properties as soon as funding is released in April 2015, according to the government official, who asked not to be named because the plans haven't yet been announced.

Measures planned also include “naming and shaming” local authorities which haven't spent money allocated to them for cheap homes.

Arabtech transparency

(AP) -- The chairman of Arabtec, the embattled Dubai construction firm that helped build the world's tallest tower, promised Wednesday to improve transparency at the firm and said it retains the support of a major shareholder backed by the Abu Dhabi government.

Arabtec is Dubai's largest construction company and has played a key role in raising the skyscrapers, fancy villas and other buildings that have transformed the city into the Middle East's commercial hub.

Its operations extend beyond the Gulf, and include an ambitious $40 billion housing initiative launched earlier this year in Egypt.

Investors' confidence in the company has plunged following a series of setbacks, with shares tumbling by as much as 70 percent from their peak in May.

London prices jump

(Bloomberg) -- London home prices jumped the most in 27 years in the second quarter as Nationwide Building Society warned that Bank of England measures to cool the United Kingdom's property market won't stem further gains in the short term.

Values in the capital surged 26 percent in the three months through June from the same period a year earlier, the biggest increase since 1987, Britain's third-largest mortgage lender said in a statement.

At an average 400,404 pounds ($686,700), prices in the city stand 30 percent above their 2007 peak.

On top of improving economic growth and record-low borrowing costs, demand for housing in London is being fueled by cash-rich buyers and foreign investors.

While moves by the BOE last week to prevent Britain's property market from overheating are unlikely to have a significant impact in the near term, the rate of increases in London may have topped out, according to Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.

London home prices rose 7.6 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, more than double the U.K. average of 2.9 percent, the lender said.

Mortgage as collateral

(Bloomberg) -- Russia's central bank is considering accepting mortgages as collateral after lenders including the country’s largest, OAO Sberbank, said they’re facing a shortage of tools to raise cash.

The central bank is considering taking mortgages and other instruments following a move to accept non-marketable collateral from banks, Chairman Elvira Nabiullina said.

“We have a special group that's considering possibilities to expand the types collateral accepted for refinancing, and we’re looking at various options, including that one,” Nabiullina said. No decision has been made, she said, declining to comment on the possible timing.

Herman Gref, Sberbank's chief executive officer, warned last month that Russia’s banking industry faces an “acute” liquidity shortage, with capital available for lending set to decrease in the coming months.

Sberbank, whose share of the mortgage market exceeded 50 percent for the first time at the end of last year, had 1.57 trillion rubles ($46 billion) in home loans as of April 1.

UK construction growth

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. construction growth accelerated in June and employment rose at a record pace as housing activity continued to surge.

Markit Economics said its Purchasing Managers' Index increased to 62.6 from 60 in May.

That's the highest since February and compares with economists’ forecast in a Bloomberg News survey for a decline to 59.8.

The index has been above the 50 level that indicates expansion for more than a year.

U.K. homebuilders have reported surging sales and profit this year as property demand and mortgage lending increase.

Wednesday's report adds to signs of strength in the United Kingdom economy after a survey Tuesday showed manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in seven months.

An index of housing activity increased to 66.6 in June from 62.7 in May, Markit said.

That's the highest since the gauge rose to 67.3 in January, which was the strongest reading in more than a decade. Commercial building grew the fastest in five months.

Markit said there was a “rapid increase” in hiring last month, with payrolls rising the most since the survey began in 1997. Construction companies remain “highly upbeat” about the outlook as orders rise and the economy improves, it said.

Sweden's investments

(Bloomberg) -- Sweden's four-party government proposed 400 billion kronor ($60 billion) in investments in high-speed trains and public transport as it seeks to lure back voters ahead of September’s election.

The plan, which stretches until 2035, includes construction of two high-speed rail lines, and looking into whether to build a second tunnel between Denmark and Sweden among other projects.

The investments also include construction of 100,000 new homes, according to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

A housing shortage, especially in the Nordic nation's capital, has contributed to rising property values, increased household debt and is seen as a potential obstacle to growth.

Johan Karlstrom, chief executive officer of Skanska AB, said the Nordic region's biggest builder welcomes the proposal, and that without infrastructure expansion, housing construction won’t take off.

Affordability proof

Bloomberg) -- Rules requiring U.K. homebuyers to prove they can afford their mortgages after interest rates rise have prompted a jump in fraudulent home-loan applications, property appraiser e.surv said.

The unit of LSL Property Services Plc said borrowers have been trying to exploit a loophole that exempts buy-to-let mortgages from affordability checks that regulators introduced to prevent a repeat of the credit crunch.

The rules, part of the London-based Financial Conduct Authority's Mortgage Market Review, took effect in April.

The new regulations restrict interest-only mortgages and self-certified borrowings and ban banks from relying on rising home prices to balance the risks of borrowers becoming unable to repay their loans.

The rules aim to rein in the type of loose lending practices that helped spark the 2008 financial crisis, which saw the collapse of mortgage lender Northern Rock Plc and left Royal Bank of Scotland Plc (NYSE: RBS) needing a 45.5 billion-pound government bailout.

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