Monday, July 27, 2009

Speak no evil.... or else!

The latest missive from the soon-to-be defunct TSD Loreto, while praising its role in creating a smooth "transition" from their services to those of Beck International,
offers a verbal whack on the knuckles for anyone thinking of complaining via Internet blogs.

The same company that brought everything to a screeching halt is now saying we must not complain about what's taking place or we could jeopardize said smooth transition.

We've been hearing those calls for silence and patience since last January when we were first told of a possible buyer/s for the project. Home owners were cautioned that any negative publicity could adversely affect a sale. There's been no adverse publicity via home owner blogs and there's been no sale. We've been "mum" and there's been no progress. And now we're told to keep quiet or the "transition" will be affected.

Here's the relevant passage from the latest email we received from Mr. Bedsole: "Unfortunately, there is some inaccurate information being disseminated by various parties, including over Internet blogs. We will try to communicate with people who may be misinformed of the facts. However, as we do so, please understand that the only communication you should consider “official” is the information you receive directly from the Company (i.e., Loreto Bay News). We will not routinely monitor, respond to and/or verify information from other sources. Furthermore, for the sake of all homeowners we ask that all concerned parties refrain from making any allegations that are not based on information obtained from the Company, as misinformation can only delay our transition efforts."

Here's a news flash for Embree C. “Chuck” Bedsole, interim president of TSD Loreto (the front for Citigroup Propery Investors in this fiasco): Security through obscurity never works. It may work on your end, but it doesn't work for those who have the most invested - the home owners of Loreto Bay. The only way problems can be solved is through open discourse. And that's something that's been discouraged for as long as we've been involved in Loreto Bay.

No more. As I said in my last post, Citigroup walked away from this project leaving home owners, contractors and workers in limbo. But that's putting it mildly. What they did was leave workers unpaid, home owners with half-finished homes (or, in some cases, just dirt lots). There's also a question regarding escrow monies that were collected from home owners for utility construction, which was released to TSD Loreto before the work was done. We know this to be true in our case. We paid $6,500 into that escrow and we do not have utilities to our lot. They defaulted on payments, ceased construction and left everyone on the ground holding the bag. And for that they deserve our silence and acquiescence?

In a nutshell, what's happened is that Citigroup/TSD Loreto has washed its hands of this project. It's been the home owners and Beck International (in the person of Stan Barton and his able staff) who have resurrected Loreto Bay. Good for us and good for Loreto Bay.

George and I still believe our home will be finished. Not through the efforts of those who were charged with making this project a reality, but through the hard work and dedication of others. Not TSD Loreto.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Please pass the salt...

Tonight we received a comment on our last post "Mum no more" that was of the "let me rub a little salt in that wound, if you don't mind" category.

Written by someone with the username hammersb, It read: "I wouldn't blame Citigroup for your personal lack of judgement (sic) and due diligence. If your sole source of information is a smiling realtor with a margarita in their hand then you must assume the consequences of your decision.

"Remember how fun it was to jump up and say I'll take it? Well now you can join the legion of real estate buyers who failed to understand what they were getting into. The original developers were the ones who took your money, not Citibank!"

Although it garnered a shrug and "what a jerk!" comment from both George and me, I decided to write a post about it for a couple of reasons. The first being how incredibly duped we've felt over the past few months when looking back on our Loreto Bay journey.

Contrary to the anonymous comment about our lack of judgment and due diligence, George (a successful realtor here in Albuquerque, BTW) did a ton of research before we booked for the sales event in Loreto. On paper, it all looked good. Unfortunately, we had no way of knowing that some of the people involved were not being truthful. Would we have bought if we'd known that Butterfield was (at that point in October 2007) a mere shill for Citigroup? No. But we didn't know and we did buy. And now we have to make the best of a bad situation and that's been difficult, to say the very least.

I'm sure we're not the only home owners who feel foolish. Who didn't want to tell family and friends about the Chevy-sized monkey wrench thrown into our plans. It hasn't been easy owning up to the fact that we could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's been hard not to hear the implied "I told you so" from our friends and family after we deliver our bad news. Actually, though, in our case it's been more of an "Oh My God" refrain from those near and dear to us for which we are very grateful.

Despite what Mr./Ms. hammersb thinks, Citigroup dba TSD Loreto walked away from Loreto Bay after totally mismanaging the project. Yes, the economy went south but the bottom line was that it was easier to walk away with their money (and ours) and that's just what they did, leaving hundreds of American and Canadian investors holding the bag, as well as Mexican contractors, workers and business owners.

Now for the second and most important reason for this post: The good news is that ultimately I think we and all the other LB home owners will prevail. It may take time but it will happen. We have come together as a real and viable community (albeit without finished homes in most cases) to seek solutions and to make this dream a reality. So to all those "I told you so'ers" out there: We may be down but we're not out. See you in Loreto!