Realty Agent Fired After Allegedly Vandalizing Neighbor's Property
"Jonathan and I have been wrongly accused and are being wrongly vilified in the press and media," Andrea Straub wrote in an email to her friends, colleagues and neighbors. "We are the victims in this whole debacle." "The Straubs are victims of horrible falsities and we will prove it in the court of law," the real estate agent's defamation lawyer, attorney George Bochetto, said in a statement released to Philadelphia media. Like his wife, Jonathan Straub, aformer sales director at AOL, has a real estate license. Bochetto had said that he would respond to the charges at a news conference, but Mainline Media News reported that the July 9 conference was then postponed.
Police in Lower Merion Township, who serve the Philadelphia suburb of Haverford where the couple and their neighbor live, say that they were given security camera video footage from a house-sitter on behalf of the hospitalized neighbor, Mary Martell. The footage apparently shows people resembling the real estate agent and her part-time agent husband knocking down for-sale signs and throwing the dead animals on the Martell's property. The two were cited with disorderly conduct and harassment on June 20, according to Ardmore Patch.
Township spokesman Tom Walsh has said that the Straubs admitted to the acts after police confronted them with video footage, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, John List, another lawyer for the Straubs, told Philly.com that the people captured on the video aren't recognizable and that the Straubs never admitted any wrongdoing to police. Officer JoAnne Pepitone had earlier told Patch that the Straubs told police that their neighbor's for-sale-by-owner signs "were tacky."
Meanwhile, the Straubs and Bochetto are reportedly accusing the police of failing to respond to a request for the video. But Mainline News quoted Lower Merion police this week as saying that the department hasn't been contacted by Bochetto about obtaining the surveillance footage.
"Over the past month, we have been dealing with a bizarre caretaker of our neighbor's home," wrote Andrea Straub in the email obtained July 9 by The Phildelphia Inquirer. "Jonathan asked him to move [illegal For Sale By Owner signs]; he refused, and then shouted expletives and made threats of calling the cops. That is the entirety of the dispute. Everything else in the news is simply fiction, made up by the caretaker."
Feuding neighbors are nothing new in the real estate arena, of course. But if it turns out that your neighbor is interfering with your efforts to sell your home, you may have grounds to sue, real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey told AOL Real Estate in post about "neighbors from hell."
AOL Real Estate's review of the MLS database for the property addresses on Booth Lane in Haverford shows that both households have their homes listed for sale. Martell's 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home, is listed for $775,000. The Straubs' 3-bedroom home is listed for $1,099,000.
Martell's home (left), built in 1979, is a 2,191-square-foot Cape Cod with a first-floor master and two bedrooms on the upper level. Both the living room and dining room have a fireplace, and the patio is covered in flagstone. (See the slideshow below.) The home was previously listed for about three months until February 2012 with Duffy Real Estate for $799,000. Martell and her deceased husband, Nicholas, who like the Straubs was also a real estate agent, purchased the home in December 2010 for $700,000, according to county tax records.
The Straubs' home (right) was completely renovated. The library has custom built-ins and a wet bar. The first-floor master suite has marble countertops in the bath and has a walk-in shower and two walk-in closets. There is also an in-ground pool in the backyard (as seen in the slideshow below). The listing is shown as a "Featured Listing" on Andrea Straub's website, where her bio states that she is a "people person" who was "born into the real estate industry." Her father is one of the Top 100 Builders/Developers in the country, it says, and her mother is also a real estate agent. According to county records, the Straubs acquired the home in July 2005 from a relative, Cynthia Straub, a Prudential agent who purchased it in 1984 for $187,500.
The Straubs' home listing says that it's represented by Prudential Fox & Roach, but given that a worker was photographed taking away a Prudential yard sign advertising the property, this remains uncertain. A call and email to Andrea Straub, who is also listed as the agent on the property, was not returned as of publication time.
An aerial view Internet search of the two properties shows that Martell's house sits directly behind the Straubs' home, with a long driveway running alongside the Straubs' property back to hers, as if one lot was once subdivided to accommodate multiple homes.
This post was updated July 11 with reports of the postponement of the July 9 news conference, the dispute of over a purported request for the surveillance video, and the email Andrea Straub sent to friends.
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