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Bank owned Mariposa lots sell at bargain prices

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Lots in Mariposa are selling at a fraction of the price builders paid developer High Desert Investment Corp. when the far north Rio Rancho master planned subdivision was marketed as a prestige community, according to an Albuquerque Realtor.

Mike Skolnick of Excalibur Realty said he’s sold 62 Mariposa lots in recent weeks at prices that were 30 percent of what builders originally paid High Desert.

Skolnick declined to divulge the actual price.

He said the properties had been taken over by New Mexico Bank and Trust. The buyer was a limited liability company formed for the purchase, Skolnick said. He couldn’t recall the name.

“They changed it during the process and it was just some name somebody came up with,” he said.

Mariposa has been in turmoil since High Desert abruptly pulled out in mid-2012 saying it couldn’t continue subsidizing amenities such as the community center. It also left property owners to shoulder $16 million in bond debt.

High Desert borrowed the money to install a community water system using the public improvement district (PID) process which allows developers to recoup the debt cost through payments from property owners.

Covering the debt payments meant a tenfold increase in those payments.

This week a District Court judge approved a settlement agreement with the bondholders that spared property owners the full brunt of the debt payments. Property owners told the judge their property value has plummeted.

They intend to continue a lawsuit that seeks damages from High Desert and its owner Albuquerque Academy.