Family attempts to 'legally steal' $3.2 million Kirkland home, says realtor
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
June 14, 2010 · Updated 5:54 PM
Determining the owner of a disputed piece of jewelry, clothes or even a pet can be difficult. Apparently a $3.2 million home in Kirkland also falls under the same guidelines.
A 7,680-square-foot home for sale at 435 Eighth Ave. West in Kirkland's Market neighborhood is at the center of a dispute between a Bellevue real estate agent, the bank he represents and the current occupants of the house.
Neighbors, who asked to remain anonymous, noticed a U-Haul in front of the house June 4 and called VDB Real Estate agent Mark von der Burg to find out how much the home was sold for. The answer they got was puzzling.
"He said that the house had not been sold and was still for sale," said a neighbor, who added that she saw a woman and three school-aged children wheel bicycles into the garage. Other witnesses also reported seeing a man living at the house. "On (June 5) we noticed the lights on."
Von der Burg, who planned for an open house on June 6, asked his agent to check on things at the residence. When the agent informed von der Burg that all the for-sale fliers were gone, he called the police.
The Kirkland Police Department went to the house on June 6 and confronted the woman, who showed some documentation that claimed she owned the house, police said.
"Until we can determine through a civil process if there's anything criminally wrong, we can't get involved," said Kirkland Police Department Sgt. Robert Saloum, adding that trespassing is a civil issue. "We don't know other than what we're shown. We don't know if a crime has occurred."
Not able to determine who was the legitimate owner, the officer told von der Burg that it was a civil matter.
"Because they had some forms and they were flashing them, I understand where police are coming from," said von der Burg, whose office has since told the Reporter that the FBI is now doing an investigation. "They don't want to have a civil lawsuit. But how do you prove anything? They have some paperwork that says they own it, but anyone can type that out on the internet in 10 minutes."
Upon return to the house with Von der Burg, the officer asked the woman about the $80,000 worth of rented staging furniture in the home. She said the furniture was not hers, but offered to buy it, noted von der Burg. The officer would not allow von der Burg inside the home for fear of a confrontation, but told the realtor that the brand new house looked lived in.
"We got (all the furniture) out," said von der Burg. "They were very nice from that standpoint, that's what baffles us all. She said that she didn't want any personal property, they just wanted the house."
The officer's report was not immediately available as the Kirkland Police still considered the matter under investigation.
The Reporter attempted to contact the woman at the home with no answer at the door. The house appeared empty, except for a vacuum cleaner and a cat. There were also lights on inside and outside of the home.
A sign on the front door of the home says that the home is no longer for sale and no trespassing. A UCC Financial Statement was also posted on the front door, stating that Priority Rose Childrens Outreach placed the house as collateral June 7. The paperwork lists First Citizens Bank and Trust as the debtor.
The woman did not return any phone calls to the Reporter.
The Reporter has confirmed with an independent source that the bank in question, First Citizens Bank and Trust, is listed on the MLS as the owner of the home. King County property records also show that the bank is the owner of the home. According to neighbors, the property was originally purchased by a developer, who took down the previous house and built the six bedroom, nine bath home. The developer reportedly lost the home to the bank late last year. The house has been on the market for two months, said von der Burg.
"The bank's attorneys have instructed us not to say much because once they are out we want to criminally prosecute these people," said von der Burg.
The bank has reportedly served a notice of eviction to the woman. Conflicting information had the eviction set for June 12 but as of Monday the people were still in the house.
"If it doesn't work we will go to the superior court to commence a lawsuit," said von der Burg. "She is 'legally stealing' - that's a nice way to put it."
Von der Burg thinks that it is part of a scam where people find properties that might have issues with the title and stake claim.
Another real estate agent has also been involved with the house. The Bothell realtor owns a business that offers homeowners a way to get out from under upside-down mortgages. Von der Burg said that the woman was working with the realtor on pursuing the house.
The realtor was fired from Keller Williams Real estate on June 9 in connection with the Kirkland house.
"He has denied working with (the woman)," said Dave Duncan with Keller Williams. "We didn't like the perception of impropriety. Whatever he was doing had nothing to do with Keller Williams."
Several neighbors are concerned for their safety and say they want the family out if they don't belong there.
"If they go to court, it might be weeks before they're out," said a neighbor.
Editor Carrie Wood contributed to this report.Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.