Friday, September 11, 2009
This LA Times report about a Wells Fargo executive in charge of foreclosures moving into a bank-owned Malibu beach house and throwing lavish parties probably isn't going to help the American banking industry recover from some of the image problems that have developed over the last year or two since the housing bubble met its pin.
Having lived in that general area for more than 25 years since the early 1980s, it was always great fun to venture out to Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and other tonier parts of Southern California to have a look at the many million dollar homes.
That was back in the day when million dollar homes were a big deal.
Fast forward to the new century and even trailer parks had million dollar homes, this link to a four-year old story in USA Today still providing some much needed perspective on just what has transpired in the Los Angeles area housing market in recent years.
Posted 7/5/2005 9:49 PMAh... memories...
A two-bedroom, two-bathroom mobile home perched on a lot in Malibu is selling for $1.4 million. This isn't a greedy seller asking a ridiculous amount no one will pay.
Two others sold in the area recently for $1.3 million and $1.1 million. Another, at $1.8 million, is in escrow. Nearby, another lists for $2.7 million.
Anyway, back to the story about the Wells Fargo banker living in the foreclosed beach house.
Bernard L. Madoff's massive fraud stunned some of the wealthy denizens of Malibu Colony, especially when a couple devastated by the scheme surrendered their oceanfront home to Wells Fargo Bank.There's lots more about Ms. Guyton and the handling of foreclosed properties by Wells Fargo including an account of a Labor Day visit to the beach house by an LA Times reporter where, apparently, Ms. Guyton answered the buzzer but didn't open the gate, thus answering the question that may be on some readers minds as to whether she is a complete idiot.
But some neighbors say the real shocker came when they saw one of the bank's top executives spending weekends in the $12-million beach house and hosting eye-catching parties there. What's more, Wells Fargo spurned offers to show the property to prospective buyers, a real estate agent said.
"It's outrageous to take over a property like that, not make it available and then put someone from the bank in it," said Phillip Roman, an 18-year Colony resident who lives a few homes away from the property.
Residents identified the house's occupant as Cheronda Guyton, a Wells Fargo senior vice president who is responsible for foreclosed commercial properties.
Guyton could not be reached at her downtown Los Angeles office. Wells Fargo declined to discuss Guyton, saying in a statement that representatives "don't discuss specific team member situations/issues for privacy reasons." But the bank said it would "conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations" by neighbors.
In written responses to questions from The Times, Wells Fargo said this week that its agreement with the prior owner required it to keep the home off the market "for a period of time" but declined to elaborate. The company said it now planned to list the property for sale "in the near future." The bank also confirmed that Guyton headed its foreclosed commercial property operation.
Malibu Colony stretches three-quarters of a mile along the beach in the heart of Malibu. Its residents include actor Tom Hanks, former Univision Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio, and high-profile investment banker Michael E. Tennenbaum.