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Here’s more on the news we reported last week that million-dollar homes in the state registered their lowest sales totals in five years. Remember, there were 2,216 sales of million-dollar-plus homes in 2008, down 43 percent from the 3,888 such sales in 2007.

That trouble’s hitting home for a high-end real estate broker couple based in Solana Beach, Chris Bagley at the North County Times reported late last week.

A couple who made a name and fortune in high-class coastal real estate have crashed into bankruptcy and are asking a court to erase more than $40 million in debt, including $625,000 that stemmed from alleged misuse of a helicopter loan.

According to court filings, property records and interviews, the couple, Robert and Loraine Dyson, shut down their Solana Beach real estate brokerage, an affiliate of Sotheby’s International Realty, in October. They also filed for personal bankruptcy and have apparently scotched plans to develop an equestrian resort and estates in central Riverside County.

Their bankruptcy attorney, K. Todd Curry, said the crashing real estate market had swallowed the Dysons, along with hundreds of thousands of other homeowners and people who worked in construction and real estate.

It was a crash they didn’t expect to hit their market niche. The Dysons just got back into local real estate in late 2007, after a six-year hiatus, and told the North County Times’ they’d be insulated from market tumult:

Operating as Villa Sotheby’s International Realty, the couple and their agents are adding their local expertise to the globally recognized Sotheby’s name.

As before, the Dysons will concentrate on real estate’s high end, such as the multimillion-dollar homes common in Del Mar and in Rancho Santa Fe, where the Dysons live. It’s a market Bob Dyson says is insulated from the turmoil of the subprime real estate market, roiled by defaults on mortgages made to those with shaky credit.

KELLY BENNETT

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