The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments last Wednesday in a case, Horiike v. Coldwell Banker, that is being closely followed by the real estate industry, including C.A.R.
“At its core, the Horiike case is an issue of a buyer not reading all of the information that was presented to him, but Horiike is trying to turn a normal disclosure case into an agency case,” said C.A.R. President Pat “Ziggy” Zicarelli. “Some groups may believe that dual agency should be outlawed and want to use this case for that premise or as a stepping stone to that end.”
In the case, a homebuyer, Hiroshi Horiike purchased a mansion in Malibu, Calif., and worked with a Beverly Hills, Coldwell Banker real estate licensee. The property was listed by a Coldwell Banker licensee in another office. Horiike complained he was misled about the property’s square footage. The issue is complex, however. The City of Malibu includes some outdoor living areas in determining square footage, which impacts whether the property may be expanded. Most square footage measurements do not include outdoor living areas in square footage. These facts were fully disclosed, but apparently the buyer never read the information. Horiike sued the seller’s licensee, Chris Cortazzo, stating that Cortazzo and Coldwell Banker breached their fiduciary duty and failed to advise him to hire a third party to verify the actual square footage. He did not sue the Beverly Hills licensee with whom he was working.