(Bloomberg) -- BB&T Corp., North Carolina's second-largest bank, said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to audit the lender over sales of government-backed loans.
BB&T (NYSE: BBT) was notified of the audit last quarter and set aside reserves of $53 million, or 7 cents a share, based on the outcomes of similar queries, the Winston-Salem-based lender said Monday.
“While there are no findings from HUD at this time, in light of announcements made by other financial institutions related to the outcomes of similar audits and related matters, and after further review of our exposure, we believe it is prudent to establish reserves,” the firm said in the statement.
Net income fell 22 percent in the quarter to $425 million, or 58 cents a share, from $547 million, or 77 cents, a year earlier, the bank said. Earnings excluding some expenses were 70 cents.
Expenses increased 3.7 percent to $1.55 billion from a year earlier and the bank's efficiency ratio, a measure of management’s ability to control costs, rose to 59.8 percent from 57.6 percent, the firm said.
Another tiny town sale
(AP) -- If you missed out on buying the tiny Wyoming town of Buford, another village is on the market.
Aladdin is available for $1.5 million. The buyer will get 30 acres and 15 buildings in northeastern Wyoming, including a 118-year-old general store that's still operating.
The Gillette News-Record reported Monday owners Judy and Rick Brengle are looking to slow down.
Aladdin is between Devils Tower National Monument, Wyo., and Belle Fourche, S.D. It draws crowds every August during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
Aladdin doesn't have a government population count, but about 15 people live there.
Buford sold last year for $900,000 and was renamed PhinDeli Town by its new owner. It's in southern Wyoming, and it claimed to have one resident.
Online real estate
(Bloomberg) -- Urban Compass Inc., the New York marketplace for renting and buying apartments, will expand to more U.S. cities after raising $40 million from investors.
Financing from Advance Publications Inc., Marc Benioff and other investors more than doubles the startup's valuation to more than $360 million, 10 months after its last funding round, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The company’s revenue has jumped 10-fold in the past year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
Urban Compass lists properties with photos and employs real estate agents to connect people with apartments.
Users can tailor options and neighborhoods with more specificity than Craigslist, while brokers can manage relationships with clients using a mobile application.
Urban Compass's latest funding round also includes investments from Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, .406 Ventures and American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) CEO Kenneth Chenault.
The company employs more than 130 people and plans to add staff after moving to a space near Union Square with 9,000 more square feet.
Brokers make up more than half of the staff and they use software developed by Urban Compass to manage relationships with clients. Allon says he hopes to have more than 200 brokers nationwide within a year.
New WTC tenant
(Bloomberg) -- MediaMath Inc., a digital-advertising company, agreed to a 15-year lease at 4 World Trade Center, becoming the lower Manhattan skyscraper's first non-government tenant.
MediaMath is taking 106,000 square feet and plans to move its more than 300 New York-based employees from three locations in Midtown to the 72-story tower, developer Silverstein Properties Inc. said Monday.
The agreement brings occupancy in the 2.3 million-square-foot building, which opened in November, to 53 percent.
Demand for offices in lower Manhattan surged in the first half of the year, in part because of leases at the Brookfield Place complex, where Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK) and Time Inc. took more than a million square feet combined.
Downtown's vacancy rate of 10 percent is now lower than Midtown’s 11 percent, which is a rarity, according to brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
Previously, the skyscraper's only two tenants were New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owner of the World Trade Center site. They agreed to rent 600,000 and 520,000 square feet, respectively.
Silverstein last month said he will resume construction on 3 World Trade Center after a financing deal with the Port Authority.
The nearby 1 World Trade Center, scheduled to open by year's end, is about 56 percent leased following the addition of three tenants in the past few months, including advertising firm KiDS Creative LLC.
Florida leads nation
(AP) -- Florida led the nation in foreclosures during the first half of the year.
A report released last week by the research firm RealtyTrac says Florida's foreclosure rate was the nation's highest for the first half of 2014.
RealtyTrac says 1 in 74 Florida homes had a foreclosure filing in the first six months of the year.
More than 121,000 properties had a foreclosure filing, the most of any state. However, that number was down 22 percent from a year earlier.
Miami had the nation's highest metro area foreclosure rate, with 1 in 61 homes involved in a filing in the first half of the year.
Miami was followed by Orlando, Port St. Lucie, the Space Coast and Tampa in having the top five foreclosure rates by metro areas.
NJ Carousel auction
(AP) -- A piece of Jersey shore history is going up for auction.
An 82-year-old carousel on the Seaside Heights boardwalk that survived Superstorm Sandy will be sold to make room for new attractions. The National Carousel Association says it's one of only 212 classic wood carousels left in North America.
An auction is planned for the fall, with the hope that a buyer will take the entire ride and prevent it from being broken up. Otherwise, its 58 hand-carved figures and Wurlitzer organ will be sold piecemeal.
The ride's owners say it's become expensive to maintain and insure. The New York firm planning the sale says the carousel could fetch more than $2 million.
Suspending water cutoffs
(Bloomberg) -- Detroit said it would suspend water service cutoffs of delinquent customers as residents sued, claiming the shutdowns to about 30,000 low-income households violated their constitutional rights.
The bankrupt city is halting shutoffs for 15 days to give customers a chance to contact water department officials and arrange payment schedules for past-due balances, and to get financial help, Curtrise Garner, a department spokeswoman, said Monday.
The lawsuit comes as the city prepares to release the results of a vote by creditors on a plan that would cut about $7.4 billion in unsecured debt. The city filed a record municipal bankruptcy a year ago this month.
The water cutoffs are unfair in part because commercial customers who owe money haven't been shut down, according to a complaint in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit.
“Water service to private residences is the most basic and essential utility service, and is necessary for the health and safety of the residents,” the residents said in the filing.
About 80,000 of 176,000 Detroit, residential accounts are past due, Garner said. She denied claims that the city isn't shutting off past-due commercial accounts.
The residents who sued are seeking an injunction to keep the water flowing and orders for a “water affordability plan with income-based payments.”
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes heard complaints in court last week about the shutoff policy. He asked water department officials to do a better job of helping poor residents get financial aid for their bills.
Today the judge commended the department's latest plan, saying “a lot of effort went into it.”
The case is In re City of Detroit, Michigan, 13-bk-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division (Detroit).
Amazon's London lease
(Bloomberg) -- Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is close to an agreement for Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) to rent about 400,000 square feet of office space near the London technology hub known as Silicon Roundabout, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.
The world's biggest online retailer, based in Seattle, would occupy more than two-thirds of Brookfield’s Principal Place development, near the northern edge of the London’s main financial district, also known as “Tech City,” said the person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.
Companies from the technology, media and telecommunications sectors have buoyed London's commercial property market as financial services firms put off expansion plans.
Media and technology companies agreed to lease more office space than any other industries during the first quarter, led by Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) deal to lease an additional 160,000 square feet at its Kings Cross development, according to broker Knight Frank LLP.
Cushman & Wakefield Inc. is advising Amazon on the London lease talks, according to the person. Allsop LLP and Cushman & Wakefield are advising Brookfield.
Water robbery tax
(AP) -- Police say armed bandits are threatening villagers with death unless they deliver 35 buckets of water each day in northern India.
So far, 28 villages have been taking turns to deliver what the bandits are calling a “water tax,” but officer Suresh Kumar Singh in the city of Banda says persistent drought and poor supply lines have made the deliveries difficult.
The rugged Bundelkhand region on the southern border of Uttar Pradesh state has been starved for rain since 2007, with the yearly monsoon bringing only half the usual number of 52 rainy days each year.
Local charity worker Bagwat Prasad says the villagers, afraid of the bandits, began hauling water into the forests and mountain areas on Wednesday.
China revives RMBSs
(Bloomberg) -- China will revive residential mortgage-backed debt sales (RMBS) this week after a six-year hiatus, as the government extends help to homebuyers in a flagging property market.
Postal Savings Bank of China Co., which has 39,000 branches in the country, plans to sell 6.8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) of the notes backed by residential mortgages Tuesday, according to a July 15 statement on the website of Chinabond.
The last such security in the nation was sold by China Construction Bank Co. in 2007, Bloomberg-compiled data show.
Premier Li Keqiang is seeking to avert a collapse of the real estate market after data last week showed new home prices dropped in a record number of cities in the world's second-largest economy.
The central bank in May called on the nation's biggest lenders to accelerate the granting of mortgages to first-home buyers, and cities including Nanning, Hohhot and Jinan eased property restrictions.