Lenders seize North Raleigh mansion

Staff WriterMarch 26, 2010 

Entrepreneur Peter Loftin's North Raleigh mansion, once one of the most expensive homes ever listed in the Triangle, has been foreclosed upon and bought by a mortgage company for $5.6 million.

Just three years ago, Loftin wowed the Triangle real estate world when he listed the home and its 71-acre estate abutting Falls Lake for $32 million. The moment marked the peak of the housing boom, as the property never sold and lenders have now seized both Loftin's mansion and the rest of the estate.

Loftin, who founded a Raleigh-based telecommunications company that he later sold for $138 million, is also the owner of the former Gianni Versace mansion in Miami's South Beach. Efforts to reach him Thursday were unsuccessful.

His 17,682-square-foot house off Raven Ridge Road includes 10 bedrooms, 12 baths and five half-baths, plus plenty of opulent touches rarely seen in the Triangle. It includes 40-foot ceilings, a 1930s-style movie theater, a built-in humidor, a custom wine cellar made from actual wine barrels and a custom fountain that shoots water 40 feet in the air.

"It's a sign of the bubble and the go-go times," said Ed Willer, a Triangle broker with Prudential York Simpson Underwood. "It was like the roaring '20s, I guess. But that time's gone."

Loftin founded a telephone company in the back of a Raleigh furniture store in 1983. Twenty years later, he sold the company, BTI Telecom, to ITC-DeltaCom for $138 million.

In 2000, he bought Ver sace's former Miami estate with 12 bedrooms and 13 baths for more than $16.2 million. He later converted it into a private club and exclusive hotel.

About the same time Loftin completed construction of his mansion at the edge of the Falls Lake Protected Wildlife Preserve.

He originally planned to turn the land into a gated community of 24 lots called Still Creek. Loftin subdivided the property and formed a development company called Still Creek Development LLC in 2006.

In early 2007, Loftin listed the estate for $32 million with the hope of selling the entire property to a developer.

Noel McDevitt, the Southern Pines broker who handled the listing, said he tried for six months to find a buyer. "At the time the real estate market was beginning to decline and there weren't any developers interested," he said.

High-end market sinks

The market for high-end homes has largely disappeared over the past two years as personal wealth has eroded and banks have tightened lending standards.

Last year 115 houses priced at $1 million or more were sold in the Triangle, down 39 percent from the previous year and off 57 percent from 2007, according to Market Opportunity Research Enterprises, a Rocky Mount firm that tracks Triangle real estate.

There are currently nine homes listed at $4 million or more in the Triangle, according to Triangle Multiple Listing Services, including an 18,000-square-foot North Raleigh home priced at $8.175 million.

After getting no bites at $32 million, Loftin once again listed the house and the entire estate last spring with an asking price of $20 million.

In October, Still Creek Development turned over the deed of trust to 57 acres of the estate to satisfy a $9 million loan from RBC Bank.

Earlier this month the mansion and the 14-acre lot on which it sits were bought at a foreclosure auction by TMST Loans. TMST, formerly known as Thornburg Mortgage, specialized in providing jumbo loans to borrowers before it went bankrupt in May.

What becomes of Still Creek now isn't clear. McDevitt said the mansion and the surrounding property are beautiful but that doesn't mean lenders are likely to get many offers.

"In this economy, they may have it for a while," he said.

david.bracken@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4548

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