California Supreme Court rules on dual agency case

Judges say listing agent owes fiduciary duty to buyer in in-house deal
  • The state supreme court affirmed a lower court's ruling that listing agents owe fiduciary duty to buyers when both buyers and sellers are represented by the same brokerage.

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The California Supreme Court has upheld an appeals court decision finding that a listing agent who participated in the 2007 sale of a Los Angeles home for $12.25 million owed fiduciary duties to the buyer because both buyer and seller were represented by the same brokerage. The case concerns Chris Cortazzo, an agent in Coldwell Banker’s Malibu West office, who in November 2007 showed his listing for a custom Malibu home to Hong Kong-based millionaire Hiroshi Horiike. Horiike was represented by Chizuko Namba, an agent in Coldwell Banker’s Beverly Hills office. During the showing, Cortazzo gave Horiike an MLS listing sheet and a copy of a one-page color flier advertising that the home had 15,000 square feet of living area. About a year and a half after Horiike purchased the home, he discovered that a 1998 building permit for the property listed its square footage at 11,050. In November 2010, Horiike filed suit against Coldwell Banker and Cortazzo for negligent repres...