September 11, 2009

Oh Puck, 949 Lombard (Real World San Francisco) Facing Foreclosure

A plugged-in tipster keeps the local television theme alive with a note about the unpaid $3,715,730 mortgage balance and foreclosure filing for 949 Lombard, also known as The Real World San Francisco house.

The house at 949 Lombard Street was rented to MTV by local stockbroker/entrepreneur Martin Eng, who owned the house since 1985. It became a tourist stop, receiving more than 10,000 visitors in the months during and following the series [in 1999].

The house was gutted by a June 2000 fire (caused by a tipped candle), refinanced in 2005, and then "sold" to Lombard Flats LLC in January of 2009. According to PropertyShark the property has an assessed tax basis of $737,919.

No update on Puck.

UPDATE: A plugged-in reader adds:

[I]f you do a little snooping, I think you'll find that Mr. Eng has 2 other properties in the neighborhood facing foreclosure - 818 Green and 939 Lombard (the neighbor of your subject property). These are held in a different LLC, to which they were recently transferred from Mr. Eng. This topic dovetails nicely with the Lembi story, imho.

Not to mention our Muhawieh Maher or other "only in Miami" type San Francisco stories.

San Francisco in Cinema: Real World (949 Lombard) [mistersf.com]
The Chronicle Reports "Dozens," A Plugged-In Source Says Over 100 [SocketSite]
Two More Muhawieh Comps Of Yore Head For The Courthouse Steps [SocketSite]

First Published: September 11, 2009 4:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Editor - if you do a little snooping, I think you'll find that Mr. Eng has 2 other properties in the neighborhood facing foreclosure - 818 Green and 939 Lombard (the neighbor of your subject property). These are held in a different LLC, to which they were recently transferred from Mr. Eng. This topic dovetails nicely with the Lembi story, imho.

Posted by: rabbits at September 11, 2009 8:32 AM

^^^ What he said.

Eng has been a serial-poster on craigslist for those properties, seeking to find a partner to develop them. For instance, here:
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/reo/1368762730.html

I lived around the corner from 939 Lombard and walked past his house dozens of times on the way to Trader Joe's. But being culturally illiterate, I had no idea that the place was a "Real World" location (but pride myself, at least, in knowing what "Real World" was... err, unless it remains an "is"). It looked to me that they were filming on the roofdeck there about 6 weeks ago.

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at September 11, 2009 8:46 AM

"The house was gutted by a June 2000 fire (caused by a tipped candle)..."

Gosh darn those candles. I personally know two people who have burned their homes down with fires started by candles.

So on these houses, I guess Eng took out large equity loans to reinvest in other properties. That sets up conditions for an avalanche if the cash flow ever dries up.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 11, 2009 9:02 AM

Eng is trying to shield himself from personal liability for his real estate purchases? Wonder how that will work out ... (probably very well). Perhaps you could set up a business to do this LLC-transfer thing for homeowners seeking to preserve their credit in foreclosure.

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at September 11, 2009 9:15 AM

i think it's insane to light candles in old wood houses which tend to have wood finishes, wood cabinetry and furniture, rugs and cloths all over the place to preserve the old historic feeling, etc, and without any fire suppression system. every piece of the house is combustible.

Posted by: condoshopper at September 11, 2009 9:18 AM

Jimmy,

We'll probably need an attorney to weigh in on this, but it seems overly simplistic that a person could simply transfer real property into an LLC to shield themselves from personal liability on a souring loan. Wouldn't the holder of the note have some say in this transfer? If that were the case why wouldn't everyone just create a shell company to hold their real estate after purchase just in case things turn south. I mean, it's cool for banks and energy brokers to pull those shenanigans, but regular folks? Come on... [snark off]

Posted by: rabbits at September 11, 2009 9:29 AM

I'm not an attorney but I do know a bit about loans. First most loans are "recourse" loans, thus you need to give a personal guarantee on the loan. I was looking at trying to put together some investors to buy some property only to find out that now even "non-recourse" loans have "claw back clauses". I'll let you figure out what that means. So I seriously doubt any type of shifting title will get you out of the loan.

However, I do believe from a liability standpoint, holding a property in a LLC can give your other assets protection. Though a LLC costs at least $800 / year plus accounting costs. I have generally found that for that much money a year you can get a pretty good insurance umbrella on your liability policy to protect you.

Posted by: sometech at September 11, 2009 9:37 AM

I believe Martin Eng also owns/manages/who knows two properties on Kearny St: 1) at the corner of Washington (the Ginseng Shop and adjacent empty storefront), 2) Kearny near Commercial Street(used to be flower shop but now a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant). He used to plaster "Asians.com" all over. Never understood why he is so obsessed with that moniker.

Posted by: Live Smart at September 11, 2009 10:39 AM

Let me address a couple of things. First, Martin purchased the website domain name Asians.com in the hopes that someone would want to buy it from him and come up with a business plan for it, at a later date. The last time I talked to him, he was throwing around the figure of $3 million. Second, this is not the first time Martin has been in trouble, his 11 unit apartment building at 242 5th Avenue went back to the bank after he had unsuccessfully tried to sell it for about $1 million more than it was worth. It was also rumored that he had been borrowing money from his tenants to fix up the building and pay the loan.

Posted by: Watch out for that bus at September 11, 2009 11:11 AM

We'll probably need an attorney to weigh in on this, but it seems overly simplistic that a person could simply transfer real property into an LLC to shield themselves from personal liability on a souring loan.
On the 647 Grand View thread I have a pointer to two civil cases involving the 'developers' of that property attempting the LLC shuffle on other properties. I guess it buys a bit of time while the courts sort it out (and the developers hope for the market to turn around). But its quite clear from the court docs (Complaint to annul and set aside fraudulent transfer and for damages) that you can run, but you can't hide when you try LLC roulette ...
PS - eddy, was this your tip? Pretty funny as I was looking up Mr. Eng yesterday when I noticed one of the Lombard properties headed for the auction block. There is one, dare I say hilarious, civil action that I will post later...

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 12:14 PM

The best defense, is a good offense. Mr. Eng is suing the lenders of record (including WaMu and Chase) on the 939 Lombard property for, among other things, fraud (see Eighth Cause of Action): for inducing plaintiff to enter into a loan by saying it was a fixed loan, and not "negative amortization"; stated erroneous interest rates at the time of signing, ... and that the plaintiff would later be allowed to again refinance the loan at a later date for a better term and rate; provided an overvalued appraisal of the property... and informed plaintiff their would be no pre-payment penalties .

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 12:39 PM

"for inducing plaintiff to enter into a loan by saying it was a fixed loan, and not "negative amortization"; stated erroneous interest rates at the time of signing, ... and that the plaintiff would later be allowed to again refinance the loan at a later date for a better term and rate; provided an overvalued appraisal of the property... and informed plaintiff their would be no pre-payment penalties."

Plaintiff also contends that lenders assured him, "they would still respect him in the morning."

Posted by: diemos at September 11, 2009 12:45 PM

Gosh.

I'm not sure who to root for in [i]Eng v. WaMu/Chase[/i].

I think I'll just root for an endless campaign of mistrials and retrials and remands and countersuits between the two.

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at September 11, 2009 1:07 PM

Mr. Eng has the stronger case. It's axiomatic that no one in Real SF™ would take a suicide loan. The court will know that intuitively and rule in his favor.

Posted by: gumby at September 11, 2009 1:42 PM

EBGuy, yes.

Posted by: eddy at September 11, 2009 1:50 PM

This house was once so stunning. Shame.

Posted by: Ryan at September 11, 2009 2:06 PM

There is a Master Tenant Martin Eng who, according to this rent board decision, had multiple primary residences (which, I am assuming, he would dispute). The decision has been appealed in the SF civil courts.
Tenant and Master Tenant Martin Eng of 665 Pine (AL080086 & -87; AT080088) told the Board that the subject unit is his only legal address and that the landlord has tried to evict him many times. Since he is registered to vote at that address, he would be committing fraud if he did not live there. Mr. Eng said that, if he can no longer afford to live in the unit, he would be homeless, even though he owns real estate. Mr. Eng also claimed that he provides a furnished apartment for his subtenants.
The landlord filed a petition seeking a determination pursuant to Rules ß6.14 and the ALJ found that a rent increase was warranted pursuant to Costa-Hawkins because the original tenant, Martin Eng, no longer permanently resided in the subject unit. Additionally, two subtenants of Martin Eng’s in the unit filed petitions requesting a determination as to the lawfulness of their rents. Rent overpayments were ordered refunded as the ALJ found that Martin Eng was charging the subtenants rents in excess of the rent he was paying to the landlord. Martin Eng appeals all three decisions, claiming that: the ALJ was favorably pre-disposed towards the landlord and his counsel; the subject unit is his principal place of residence, and he has no other legal residence; the homeowner’s exemption on a condominium that he owned was the result of loan fraud by the seller; the subtenants were only charged for the furnishings in the unit; the landlord previously tried to evict him; and there is mold in the subject unit.
MSC: To deny the appeals. (Hurley/Gruber: 5-0)

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 2:16 PM

That Eng guy is awesome.

Why not just make money the normal way, instead of ripping people off?

I guess that would be too boring.

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at September 11, 2009 2:25 PM

Jimmy, it just gets better. Here is a Complaint for Monetary Damages that Martin Eng filed for the 949 Lombard Street property.
Defendants contrived to expose the plaintiff to fraudulent mortgage terms and induced him to maximize the cash out on his property so that he would be unable to make his mortgage payments in a way that resulted in the described infliction of emotional distress...

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 3:30 PM

^^Sometimes it hurts whan they throw money at you.

Posted by: OneEyedMan at September 11, 2009 3:53 PM

^ case study of why I luv SFRE. Bottom line: in addition to making good money and a care free lifestyle, it's characters like Eng who make it so facinating and so much fun! Throw in the greekesque tragi-comedy of the lembis, the SF version of Casey Serin (Muhawich maher), dodging the rent board, Our board of stupivisors, Irish contractors, planning dept/DBI run like a 14th century feudal fiefdom, and I guarantee you one never gets bored. Rock on.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at September 11, 2009 5:07 PM

The former tenants of 939 Lombard appear to be having a hard time getting their $17,000 security deposit back from Mr. Eng (they leased the property for two years and their tenancy ended on June 1, 2008). The court records for this case also show that Mr. Eng filed a VOLUNTARY PETITION FOR BANKRUPTCY.

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 6:05 PM

Mr. Eng lost another property, 242-48 Fifth Ave., to foreclosure in Oct. 2008. It was orignally purchased in Jan. 2004 for $2.565 million. The property was resold for $2.55 million in Dec. 2008. FWIW, a multi-unit apple.

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 6:20 PM

And of course, the requisite civil action for 949 Lombard filed by Mr. Eng, which alleges (among other things) that: The defendant failed to disclose to the plaintiff that the interest rate increases would take place. The minimum payment, which defendant market as the "payment rate", is the lowest of the payment options presented to the plaintiff. It was only later that the plaintiff learned that the true rate of the loan was much high[er] and he had been induced to accept a loan that he could not reasonably afford to pay.

Posted by: EBGuy at September 11, 2009 6:32 PM

I wonder if his other properties will accidently catch on fire

Posted by: gjhgjhg at September 12, 2009 3:07 PM

Puck is actually doing well and living with his wife and 2 children in Mission Viejo, California.

,Michael Martin
MM Agency

Posted by: Michael Martin at September 13, 2009 9:15 PM

Updating Eng "voluntary" BK...courts denied it for noncompliance, which coincidentally while being filed by Eng made all defaults put on hold aka "buying time".
The accidental fire issue is plausible, if you walk by the Green St building you can see piles of furniture and boxes stacked against the window! Looks like a fire hazard to me!

Posted by: obsd at September 20, 2009 5:18 PM

There was a corporate tenant who put in a web cam reality show, kicked the candle.

So Eng have nothing to do with it.

There are always two sides of the storis, 939 deposits were subject to negotiate on the damages to the garden and many things inside. The garden is worth $100,000.

Some deposits were slow due to cash flow and pending actions. When you have so many tenants, some disgruntled tenants bound to happen.

I have my share over the years. Landlords need some respect.

Posted by: Jenko Lendl at January 2, 2010 11:27 AM

This is a response to the user obsd who is asking for tenants to respect landlords. First of all, who are you to defend Martin Eng, Have you read the statement of Decision in the Tenant Vs lanlord case - Oreilly vs Eng and the Judgement was awarded to the tenants because Eng basically stole their deposit. They also received damages because he falsified a bunch of emails and made of bogus damages that weren't justified. There was zero damages anywhere. Lastly Eng has a history of keeping security deposits. He did the same thing to the tenants after the oreilly's moved out. He proceeded to ask for a re-trial of the case and was denied due to perjury. Review the case before you start defending people who don;t deserve it. I'm sure most landlords desrrve some slack but he's not one of them. I also had a personal experience where I moved out and received a bill, I challenged the bill and they allegedly were over charging me for water and sewage the whole 12 months that I lived in my unit and on top of thatthey once posted a 3 day notice on my door because their online payment system crashed and they didn't receive my rent payment. In the end...i didn't receive a letter of an apology except the return of my security deposit. Like I said there are alot of shady landlords around, maybe your not one of them but there are plenty out there.

Posted by: Michelle lee at December 29, 2010 5:58 PM

I was a tenant at 242 5th when that place foreclosed. I'm not going to go into details...but, I had to file a police report and have them contact him to tell him to stay away from the unit. This guy can't stay out of trouble.

Posted by: ex-ten at March 9, 2011 4:41 PM

I was a tenant at a bldg of his that foreclosed. I'm not going to go into details...but, I had to file a police report and have them contact him to tell him to stay away from the unit. This guy can't stay out of trouble.

Posted by: ex-ten at March 9, 2011 4:42 PM

All those who have experienced fraud and perjury committed by Martin Lee Eng should post their experience here for all to share.

Posted by: chief asian at August 23, 2013 10:36 PM

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