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Real estate agent prevails in retrial of mansion dispute

It is about a three and a half hour drive north of San Diego along the shore to get to Malibu. The enclave of movie and music stars is known for its Mediterranean climate and beautiful, expensive beachfront homes.

A recent decision by a Superior Court jury revolved around a real estate agent and a Malibu mansion. The court ruled that the agent did not breach a fiduciary duty to the buyer of the Tuscan-style villa overlooking the ocean.

The jury also found that the agent did not intentionally or negligently misrepresent the palatial home that sold for $12.25 million — in cash — 11 years ago.

The case had made it all the way to the California Supreme Court which ruled last year that the agent had a fiduciary duty to the buyer and the seller both when the brokerage represents both sides of a real estate deal.

The agent gave the buyer a flier that stated that he house had 15,000 square feet of living space. The building permit indicated that there was 15,000 square feet of living space, while the tax assessor had the place pegged at 9,500 square feet.

The buyer signed an advisory that the broker wasn’t responsible for verifying footage and purchased the property without further inquiries into the matter.

A couple of years later, he found out that the space wasn’t as large as he thought. He filed suit in 2010, claiming the agent and brokerage violated their fiduciary duty.

After a trial, appeal, Supreme Court ruling and retrial, the verdict is in, no doubt generating sighs of relief from agents around the state.

Those embroiled in real estate disputes can speak with an attorney experienced in resolving matters before they get to court, as well as in prevailing in matters that go before a judge.