The American dream has diminished by at least a third for Hong Kong-based multimillionaire Hiroshi Horiike, and all because a broker to the stars may have misrepresented the square footage of a Malibu mansion Horiike paid $12.25M for. "I don't love my house," he tells the New York Times real estate section, which laid out the ongoing legal dispute earlier this week. "It has become a bad dream. It has broken my heart and broke my dream about American people. Before, I thought everything here is beautiful. And perfect." Apparently, 5,000 missing square feet will do that to you.
After passing on nearly 80 properties his Coldwell Banker broker showed him, Horiike bought a Malibu mansion in 2007 that he says was presented as the largest in the city, at 15,000 square feet. The dream-crushing news came in 2009, when he was trying to add a sunroom, and the county planning comission told him that his home was actually less than 10,000 square feet. His bad move, in the Times' estimation, was paying in cash, because if Horike had applied for a bank loan, the bank would have insisted on sending appraisers before they lent him the money.
Also, he might have wanted to avoid dealing with Chris Cortazzo, Coldwell Banker's top salesman in the country, who has sold about $2B worth of Malibu mansions in the last 15 years, and whose clients have included the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Pamela Anderson, Kid Rock, and Josh Groban. Cortazzo was sued in 2012 by another Malibu buyer for making "several misrepresentations about the property, including its square footage." Though all his current listings match county records, the Times has found that "Mr. Cortazzo's listings over the last decade show numerous examples where the square footage cited by Mr. Cortazzo as the Coldwell listing agent is sometimes significantly larger than what public property records state."
Cortazzo and Coldwell are both named in a lawsuit that seeks $5M in damages. They beat the case in 2012, but Horiike's legal team has successfully appealed, and now the issue is headed to the California Supreme Court, which is expected to make a ruling this year. Cortazzo claims that the listing came with a disclaimer, and that his size estimate came from the home's architect.