Foreclosure filed on Saunders' properties

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

BB&T Bank has filed a foreclosure motion against developer Mark Saunders and several of his Brunswick County companies The bank charges Saunders defaulted on nearly $4.5 million in loans.
On Dec. 20, a continuance for the case against Saunders’ MAS Properties and Eastern Carolinas Construction and Development was granted for May 8 in Brunswick County Superior Court.
The action by Branch Banking and Trust Co. cites loans dating back to 1997.
Saunders’ attorney, Elaine Jordan, said payments have always been timely and renewed as a matter of course. Last March, however, BB&T notified the grantors the loans would not be renewed and that a total principal balance of approximately $4.4 million was due in full.
Legal documents state the value of the collateral property exceeds the value of the principal balance of the loan.
One of the properties is on Oak Island and is intended for use as a beach club for Seawatch at Sunset Harbor. Two other tracts are in Holden Beach and Shallotte.
“We were very surprised to learn that BB&T had sold our loans to a debt buyer out of Miami after looking us in the eye only a few weeks ago and telling us we had an agreement to restructure our loans,” Jordan said.
“For 15 years we timely made every payment required by BB&T, including the one this past month,” she added. “The only ‘default’ was BB&T’s failure to renew a loan that, because we had always complied with all terms, was routinely extended. The only payment not made was the one demanded by BB&T for the entire principal balance, and who of us, if suddenly called upon to pay all of our obligations, could do so?”
In her statement, as well as outlined in legal documents filed at Brunswick County Courthouse, Jordan said, “We spent months negotiating with BB&T’s senior management and lawyers. They looked us in the eye, shook our hands, and committed to make a new loan. BB&T then went behind our backs, sold our loans, and sent us a letter reneging on the agreement that they had made. Now the same lawyers who told us we had a deal are apparently representing the Miami company that bought the loans from BB&T and [are] trying to foreclose, which not only hurts us, but also hurts all the people who already own lots in Seawatch at Sunset Harbor.”
The continuance document states “in a shocking turn of events,” BB&T announced in a letter received Dec. 13 it had sold notes to a third party, an affiliate of Rialto Capital Advisors of Miami.
Jordan said during the good times, “BB&T made millions of dollars from transactions with families who purchased in our communities in Brunswick County. We intend to do everything in our power to force BB&T and its lawyers to stand by their agreement with us and to protect those adversely affected by this unscrupulous action.”
BB&T’s lawyer filed documents stating settlement discussions “did not result in any final or enforceable agreement” regarding resolution of maturity defaults under the loan documents or restructuring of obligations, “and no such agreement has been prepared or executed.”
In a separate action, property owners in SeaScape at Holden Plantation filed a lawsuit in October against Saunders’ Coastal Companies and Brunswick County alleging construction defects in that community, including what they claim is a faulty seawall and boardwalk.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.