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Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel and USA Today
Fort Lauderdale investor says he's ready to buy 28 homes in Wellington's Versailles community  
By Kimberly Miller 
 Posted: 6:07 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010
A 27-year-old investor says he has contracts to buy 28 of about 40 homes currently on the market in Wellington's Versailles community, sales he said will stabilize prices in the once fraud-plagued neighborhood. Christopher Anzalone is making the purchases as president of the Fort Lauderdale-based Liberty International Real Estate. He said the contracts total about $18 million. Currently a renter in the pocket of 415 luxury homes near Lake Worth Road and U.S. 441, Anzalone said he learned real estate through a family business. In Versailles, where scam loans bought million-dollar mini mansions that now sell for half that - or less - Anzalone sees opportunity.He said the majority of his contracts are for a third of what the homes last sold for. The biggest deal: an $800,000 purchase price on a home where the bank was owed $5.7 million. The Regional Multiple Listing Service had 41 active sale listings in Versailles as of today ."It's a beautiful community," Anzalone said. "The residents who live there have done a good job of getting rid of the fraudulent purchasers, and they are keeping it up meticulously."Anzalone said he also has back-up contracts on nine additional properties, so if the original buyer falls through, he can scoop them up. He said his original plan was to purchase all 46 homes for sale, but that some sellers were asking too much and other homes were already under contract.Federal prosecutors have named 11 houses in the Versailles development that they believe were involved in some form of mortgage fraud. The hugely inflated prices paid for the homes left true values out of whack or would-be buyers believing the inflated prices were legitimate purchases, Anzalone said. Buying 28 homes at an average price of about $643,000 could help even out pricing, he reasoned. "Nobody really knows what the homes are worth," Anzalone said.Versailles Home Owners Association President Sal Van Casteren disagrees, saying he believes prices have already stabilized. After digging the community out of what was left by scammers and derelict investors, he's skeptical about Anzalone's bulk purchase. "We've had many people come in and out of the community saying they were going to buy up all of the distressed homes, but it's never panned out," said Van Casteren, who was unaware until today of the pending sales to Anzalone. "If it is in fact true, then I wish him and his company the best luck in the world." Anzalone said minimal repair is needed to the homes he is buying. They will go back on the market through the private lender A&D Financial Mortgage in Aventura.

Anzalone's Realtor, Rose Bauer, said the properties are a mix of short sales, bank-owned homes, and traditional purchases. The two worked on the deals for about three months. Bauer, who has an office in Boca Raton but specializes in opulent Fisher Island properties, said she hopes to close all of the homes within the next two months.