Real estate agent sued over home transaction


An area real estate agent is being sued for questionable practices in the sale of a Warrenville townhome.

Martha Lopez is accused of purposely listing the property more than $20,000 below market value and then selling it to her husband without disclosing the relationship to her client.

But Lopez disputes those allegations – even that the man is her husband.

Norfleet Richardson of La Grange alleges that his former home, at 2S763 East Winchester Circle, was then relisted for sale less than two weeks after the Feb. 24, 2006, closing for $20,400 more than he was paid, according to a lawsuit filed in DuPage County Circuit Court.

Richardson is seeking $500,000 in damages and an additional $30,225 for commission paid to Re/Max of Naperville, with which Lopez is affiliated, and the difference in the purchase price from the true market value of the home at the time of sale. The Re/Max branch was not named in the lawsuit.

A Realtor for nine years, Lopez says she did nothing wrong in the transaction and disputes many of Richardson’s allegations, including her relationship with the man named as her husband in the suit – Dietmar Solm.

“I am not married to Dietmar,” Lopez said. And at least according to DuPage County Circuit Court Clerk records, she is not. There is no record of a marriage license that was issued for Lopez and Solm in the county. In Illinois, couples must obtain a license from the county they marry in.

The only relationship with Solm, who is also a Realtor affiliated with Re/Max of Naperville, is strictly a professional one, Lopez said.

That professional relationship has extended into homeownership, as both Lopez and Solm are listed on the two mortgages held on the property, according to records from the DuPage County recorder of deeds’ office.

“When he purchased it (the townhome), I asked the lender if it would be a good asset to have for the business,” Lopez said. “Not because we were trying to make lots of money for the property.”

Lopez confirmed the townhome was relisted just a short time after buying it, but they could not find a buyer. Instead the two spent $10,000 renovating the property and now rent it out.

Lopez, who said she was surprised by the lawsuit, maintains she was only helping Richardson, who had been unsuccessful in prior attempts to sell the property.

“He had the house on the market with another Realtor for 94 days at $147,000 and it didn’t sell,” she said.

At the time of the February 2006 sale, Lopez said $139,500 was a fair price for the townhome.

Regardless of what the relationship is between Solm and Lopez, or how long the property was previously listed, Richardson’s Downers Grove-based attorney, Paul Fina, said improprieties have occurred.

“She set the price for the property and ended up owning it,” Fina said. “We find that to be troublesome.”

A status hearing on the case is set for Oct. 22 at DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton.

Contact Jennifer Golz at jgolz (at) scn1 (dot) com or 630-416-5278.

By Jennifer Golz, Sun-Times News Group


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