When people get greedy or desperate, they sometimes do foolish things. A recent LA Times article detailed the atrocious behavior of two landlords — a realtor and her husband — who terrorized tenants to induce them to move out so the landlords could make a quick buck. They cut holes in the floor, destabilized the structure, shut off the power and gas, and anything else they could think of — all in pursuit of money.
The realtors who are the subject of today’s featured article were also motivated by money to commit some very foolish acts. They were trying to sell their million dollar house, but their next-door neighbor also decided to sell. They know the buyer pool at those price points is thin, and competing with another seller is not going to get them top dollar. Rather than accepting their fate, or perhaps lowering their price (obviously not an option), this couple decided to embark on a clandestine campaign to undermine the value of their neighbors property. Allegedly, this included dumping dead animals on the property, kicking down agent signs, and cutting down tree branches.
Andrea Straub has successfully helped negotiate the sale and purchase of many of the finest properties on the Main Line and the Philadelphia area. … Andrea was born into the real estate industry and her extensive knowledge came at an early age. Her father is one of the Top 100 Builders/Developers in the country and her mother is also a Broker. Being a licensed REALTOR® for over a decade, … She is a People Person and truly understands her clients’ individual needs. Andrea was one of Prudential Fox & Roach’s first agents to be designated a Fine Homes Specialist, an Accredited Buyers Rep and an e-Pro. She is a winner of the prestigious Top of the Rock, Chairman’s and President’s Circle awarded to the top Realtors each year and is in the top 1% of Realtors nationwide. … Andrea is licensed in PA, NY, NJ and MI, attended the prestigious New York University with an Academic & Basketball Scholarship and graduated with Honors. She also studied at the London School of Economics and University College of London.
ANDREA STRAUB was a shark when it came to marketing high-end homes and luxury living space in Philadelphia and on the Main Line.
The 34-year-old Prudential Fox & Roach Realtor was ranked among the top half of Realtors worldwide, according to her website.
But Straub and her Realtor husband, Jonathan, were so desperate to sell their own home, authorities said, that they crossed the line by putting dead animals in their next-door neighbor’s driveway because that house was also on the market for about $1 million.
Lower Merion police cited the couple over the weekend after they were allegedly captured on surveillance last week dumping a dead mouse and snake in front of the property, located on Booth Lane, in a wealthy section of the township.
This is stupid on so many levels. First, to actively work to devalue your neighbor’s property is not very neighborly. God and Moses must have missed that commandment.
Third, how does one find dead rats and snakes? It takes forethought and planning to locate, transport, and dump dead animals. Did she buy live ones and kill them? Did she find them on her own property?
Fourth, if there is Karma in the Universe, actions like these will come back to bite them. The vibe this puts out in the Universe is very negative. The repercussions that come their way — like the bad press they are getting now — are richly deserved.
According to police, the complaint was filed June 20 by a person who was house-sitting for the homeowner, who is hospitalized. The housesitter told police that after putting up sale signs and fliers for prospective buyers, the signs kept getting knocked down and the fliers went missing.
The sitter surreptitiously planted surveillance cameras in a birdhouse and above the garage that captured the Straubs’ shenanigans, police said. In addition to dumping the dead animals, police said the couple was also seen kicking over sale signs and cutting down tree branches.
The pair allegedly told police the signs were “tacky.”
That’s the best they could come up with. Does a “tacky” sign justify them kicking them down and dumping dead animals on the property?
They were given summary citations for harassment and disorderly conduct, punishable by a fine of up to $300 each.
“According to police, [officers] saw it and actually showed it to the people who were cited and they admitted to it and apologized – at least Mr. Straub did,” said Public Information Officer Tom Walsh. “Police were adamant about that. He admitted it and he apologized. He was quite apologetic, as a matter of fact.”
Since the husband isn’t a realtor, he still has a conscience. He was embarrassed and contrite, which is how people of good conscience react when they know they did something wrong. He appears to be the adult in this situation.
Attorney John List, however, said that he is being retained by Jonathan Straub and that the couple plans to challenge the citations in court.
“Both Mr. and Mrs. Straub were cited under a statute,” List said. “What Mr. Straub told the police, as far as we’re concerned, is not even remotely criminal in nature, and we intend to defend it.”
Stupid, yes, but not criminal, right?
This is not a bright move on their part. If they let this thing quietly die, Ms. Straub can get back to being a realtor, and everyone will forget about the incident. If they fight it, the public spotlight will shine even brighter, and the incident will be burned into people’s collective memory. Even if they fight and win, nobody will believe they’re innocent, so why bother fighting?
List would not provide his version of what the couple told police. He said he has not seen the police report, but quickly defended the Straubs’ reputation.
“Both Jonathan and Andrea Straub are upstanding individuals. They’re well-thought of, in both Haverford and the business communities they’re involved [in].”
He described the allegations as “preposterous and without merit.”
William Davis Jr., who is expected to represent Andrea Straub, also described the allegations as preposterous. He said he had only seen the surveillance video on a TV news report.
“In my opinion, you couldn’t even see anything at all on the video. You couldn’t identify anyone,” he said.
So some random people that looked like the Straubs just happened to repeatedly vandalize the same property for no reason at all?
I understand that attorneys are paid to say this stuff, but that one doesn’t pass the giggle test.
A few neighbors declined to comment, but resident Hana Brem, whose family moved to the area two years ago, said the incident surprised her.
“Totally. I mean that’s one way to deal with competition,” she said.
Yes it is, Hana, yes it is.
These aren’t the only realtors behaving badly…
Four years on the bank’s books
Today’s featured property is a $1,775,000 REO in Irvine. For everyone who is dismayed by the lack of inventory, the banks obviously don’t care. They’ve owned this property since September of 2010, nearly four years now. They bought it at auction and intentionally withheld it from the market — along with many other properties — until now when they think they can sell for a profit.
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Proprietary OC Housing News home purchase analysis
30 DREAMLIGHT Irvine, CA 92603
$1,775,000 …….. Asking Price
$1,500,000 ………. Purchase Price
9/20/2010 ………. Purchase Date
$275,000 ………. Gross Gain (Loss)
($142,000) ………… Commissions and Costs at 8%
$133,000 ………. Net Gain (Loss)
18.3% ………. Gross Percent Change
8.9% ………. Net Percent Change
6.0% ………… Annual Appreciation
Cost of Home Ownership
$1,775,000 …….. Asking Price
$355,000 ………… 20% Down Conventional
4.88% …………. Mortgage Interest Rate
30 ……………… Number of Years
$1,420,000 …….. Mortgage
$393,711 ………. Income Requirement
$7,519 ………… Monthly Mortgage Payment
$1,538 ………… Property Tax at 1.04%
$392 ………… Mello Roos & Special Taxes
$370 ………… Homeowners Insurance at 0.25%
$0 ………… Private Mortgage Insurance
$352 ………… Homeowners Association Fees
$10,171 ………. Monthly Cash Outlays
($2,068) ………. Tax Savings
($1,744) ………. Principal Amortization
$667 ………….. Opportunity Cost of Down Payment
$242 ………….. Maintenance and Replacement Reserves
$7,267 ………. Monthly Cost of Ownership
Cash Acquisition Demands
$19,250 ………… Furnishing and Move-In Costs at 1% + $1,500
$19,250 ………… Closing Costs at 1% + $1,500
$14,200 ………… Interest Points at 1%
$355,000 ………… Down Payment
$407,700 ………. Total Cash Costs
$111,400 ………. Emergency Cash Reserves
$519,100 ………. Total Savings Needed