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Published: Friday, 3/24/2006

Ottawa Hills home of Ulmer in foreclosure


Genoa Bank foreclosed on John Ulmer's Ottawa Hills home after the self-described "master of the modern day money machine" failed to make payments on his $600,000 mortgage.

"I'm not surprised in light of his personal financial situation," said Mr. Ulmer's lawyer, Jerry Phillips, who added that Mr. Ulmer was unaware of the filing.

The Ohio Department of Commerce closed Mr. Ulmer's real estate investment company, the Westhaven Group, in December. Company records showed that 77 investors were not paired with any mortgages on properties to back their investments, a form of securities fraud that caused Westhaven to be placed under state control.

Westhaven used the investors' money as loans to buy distressed houses, which were then sold on land contract, usually to families with poor credit histories.

When a land contract holder fell behind on payments, Mr. Ulmer preferred to be dramatic. A Westhaven employee would hand the delinquent tenant milk crates and tell him he was moving, Mr. Ulmer said, laughing, on audiotapes of his real estate seminars obtained by The Blade.

By comparison, Genoa Bank simply filed a complaint with the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas on Monday after payments from Mr. Ulmer failed to arrive.

As of Feb. 1, Mr. Ulmer owes $560,174 on the mortgage he and his wife, Constance, took out for 2535 Underhill Road in 1999. The couple bought the 4,000-square-foot house for $329,100 in 1992.

Genoa Bank initially released the Ulmers from the mortgage in 2005, according to filings with the Lucas County recorder.

However, Genoa Bank amended that release on March 7, 2006, writing that it meant to release a mortgage for Westhaven's former headquarters on Renwyck Drive, which was damaged by fire in 2003.

Mr. Ulmer may live in the Ottawa Hills house during the length of the foreclosure proceeding, said David Honold, a lawyer for Genoa Bank.

Mr. Phillips said the fallen real estate mogul subsists by lecturing at real estate boot camps, a career move supported by Chuck Smith, who led a recent boot camp in Cleveland where Mr. Ulmer spoke.

"Everybody deserves a second chance - this is America," Mr. Smith said.

Although tickets for the weekend event cost $3,500, Mr. Ulmer was not compensated for his hour-long presentation, Mr. Smith said.

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