A man in California who purchased a mansion in cash was under the impression that the home was 15,000 square feet in size. However, a couple of years later, he discovered that the home's square footage was actually listed as being under 10,000 in records for the home. That is when he sued the agent of the seller as well as the brokerage firm. California's Supreme Court in this real estate dispute recently ruled unanimously in the plaintiff's favor, with the outcome of this legal case having implications for both homebuyers and real estate agents in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
According to the California Supreme Court, the agent of the seller had a responsibility to disclose information about the home that was relevant to the buyer. This was deemed necessary since both the seller's and buyer's agents worked as part of the exact same firm. This case has received a great deal of attention in the area of real estate because the industry was fearful that the court may establish requirements forcing agents to disclose information that might harm the clients who chose to hire them.
Following the recent ruling, however, people in the real estate industry indicated that they did not expect upheaval since the decision was narrow. After all, square footage-related disputes are not uncommon. However, with the court's decision, agents will be required to exercise more caution when it comes to disclosing information, and more paperwork may be required.
Real estate agents in Los Angeles and other areas who represent the buyer and the seller have a duty to serve both clients. If the failure to disclose information leads to a real estate dispute, the buyer who feels he or she has been duped has the right to take legal action in an effort to right any wrong that has been committed. An understanding of what facts must be proved will likely be necessary to prevail in this type of case.
Source: latimes.com, "Home buyers' and sellers' interests must be protected when the same firm represents both, state Supreme Court rules", Maura Dolan and Andrew Khouri, Nov. 21, 2016