A real estate agent to the stars who has worked with the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Gere, and appeared on the reality show “Million Dollar Listing,” is now facing a lawsuit over accusations he overstated the square footage of a multimillion-dollar mansion.
Hong Kong multimillionaire Hiroshi Horiike says when he purchased a $12 million Malibu, California, mansion in 2007, real estate agent Chris Cortazzo told him it was the largest home in Malibu, at 15,000 square feet.
After the sale closed, however, Horiike says he found county records showing the home is actually less than 10,000 square feet, one-third smaller than advertised.
“That was nothing but a lie … nothing but a fraud,” Horiike’s attorney, David Macey, told ABC News of the 15,000-square-feet claim, as filed in the lawsuit.
“They wanted to include garages, patios. I think their expert said the doghouse can work as a living area,” Macey said. “The city of Malibu and most Americans don’t agree.”
Horiike’s lawsuit covers both Cortazzo and his agency, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, which named Cortazzo its top agent in sales volume in 2013.
The square-footage case dates back to 2012, when Coldwell and Cortazzo initially won a jury trial. Horiike won an appeal and now the case is expected to go before the Supreme Court of California this year.
Horiike is seeking more than $5 million in damages, according to the New York Times. His attorney, Macey, would not comment on damage estimates when speaking to ABC News.
Cortazzo declined to comment when reached by ABC News. His employer, Coldwell Banker, could not be reached for comment.
David Kramer, executive vice president of Beverly Hills-based real estate firm Hilton & Hyland, told ABC News the best way for prospective home buyers to confirm a listing’s accuracy is to look up the square footage in the property’s tax history, and also get an appraisal.
“Realtors have a fantastic disclosure they include on the listing sheet that says we are not responsible for square footage, that the buyer has to verify,” said Kramer. “The honesty is on everybody in the transaction, but it’s always buyer beware.”