The Asheville Board of Realtors recently spent $2.1 million to buy a building on Montford Avenue for new offices. The purchase has rankled some members of the organization, who say they had no idea the board had such deep reserves and shouldn’t be spending that much money in a down real estate market.
The sale was finalized Tuesday, according to paperwork filed at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office. The building, located at 37 Montford Ave. across the street from the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, had a tax value of $846,100, according to property records.
A federal investigation into the funds handled by Texas financier R. Allen Stanford had delayed the Board of Realtors’ purchase. The board had investments with Stanford that were temporarily frozen while the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Stanford’s business dealings.
On Feb. 17, the SEC filed civil charges, accusing Stanford of running an $8-billion Ponzi scheme and claiming he and two associates were selling certificates of deposit with “improbable” rates of return. In a Feb. 27 e-mail, Board of Realtors Treasurer Jason Ingle told members that the board had been assured that its investments were not subject to the current SEC investigation.
The sale was approved by a vote of the Asheville Board of Realtors membership, which numbers about 1,500. But some local realtors began raising questions about the investments with Stanford, about the need to purchase a new building and about the board’s operation of a for-profit arm.
A handful of local realtors calling themselves Realtors for Change have begun demanding greater transparency from the board and have created a Web site with a survey. The group has also begun circulating a petition calling for a special meeting of the Asheville Board of Realtors so that it can address questions.
Click here to go to Xpress Files and see the deed of the sale of the Montford property to the Asheville Board of Realtors, as well as the IRS 990 tax form filed by the Asheville Board of Realtors for the 2007 fiscal year.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor