If you're scoring at home: Ginn show airs at 10 tonight on The Golf Channel

    Don't expect too much in the way of clear resolution tonight on The Golf Channel's "Golf in America" segment.  The show is dedicated to Ginn Resorts and its dubious history.  The Golf Channel is not exactly Woodward and Bernstein, and the way these exposés go, the show's producers will present both sides of the story, as they should, without taking either side themselves.  The show's teaser poses whether Ginn activities amounted to aggressive sales techniques or "fraud."  We will get an earful about Ginn real estate problems, which are many and varied.
    Expect plenty of comment from Ginn property owners, dozens of whom
A sucker is born every minute, and some grow up to be real estate professionals and bank loan officers.

are currently suing the developer for everything from overcharging them to never building promised amenities.  Expect Ginn or his representatives (maybe a lawyer or two) to spend a lot of time extolling the company's virtues and blaming bad timing and that pesky little economy thing for the company's problems, not Ginn hyper-marketing practices and questionable sales techniques.
    If The Golf Channel's reporters are doing their jobs, they will have traveled to Hilton Head to talk with Ginn's earliest customers and colleagues.  Maybe we will even see one of those collectible bumper stickers, vintage 1980s, that read, "Honk if Bobby owes you money."  
    I hope as well that the show has tracked down some of the realtors who were as taken in by Ginn's marketing every bit as much as Ginn's customers
"...it gives me great joy to expose my customers to the beauty of Bella Collina," wrote one realtor.  Today, Bella Collina is a virtual ghost community.

were.  Some of these realtors, who were unabashed in 2005 about how much money they made selling over-priced properties in dubious locations, even purchased property for themselves at Ginn Resorts, and their written testimonials of just a few years ago (see below) remind us of how Bernie Madoff was able to sell air to his well-heeled customers.  P.T. Barnum was right; a sucker is born every minute, and some of them grow up to be "professionals" in the real estate industry (including the geniuses at Credit Suisse who loaned the Ginn venture almost $700 million).  
    Consider these selections from a web site hosted by Cendyn, a hotel Internet marketing site.  (Names have not been changed since these dubious testimonials are still available on the Internet.)
    "As Central Florida Realtors, we're always on the lookout for exceptional properties. When we came across Bella Collina, with its rolling terrain, beautiful lakes and exceptional club amenities, we became more than interested for our customers - we were sold ourselves!
"...With 2,000 people vying for 381 lots, we feel blessed to be new owners in Hillcrest. The service from our sales exec and the entire Ginn staff was exceptional." -- Todd & Lisa Helgeson, Century 21 Elite Properties  (Note:  Only a handful of homes have been built at Bella Collina, and the "beautiful lakes" are toxic, connected to a government Superfund site.)
    "I am thrilled to be a property owner. It was love at first sight for my husband and me. The property speaks for itself and it gives me great joy to expose my customers to the beauty of Bella Collina." -- Bobbie Mohlman, Coldwell Banker Southwest
    "I have been selling vacation properties for five years and have never enjoyed selling a product as much as I have in Ginn's resorts.  Not only have I made a good living, my clients are extremely happy with the increase in values they have seen in a very short time.  Above all else, Ginn has brought Orlando to a place it has never been.  Thank you!" -- Jim Kirchner, IRM Investments & Real Estate.
    The place Orlando has never been is an inventory of unsold homes that is among the highest in the nation.  If you have the stomach for more comments of this sort by people who should have known better, click here.  And enjoy the show tonight.  I wish I could watch it with everyone contemplating the purchase of a golf community home.  I intend to post my comments here tomorrow.

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