Bait and switch: Century 21 agent sued after promising vacant lot was an “an acre”

The buyer of a Lincoln Heights development site said he got far less for what he paid
By Natalie Hoberman |
Research by Haru Coryne
April 24, 2019 05:00PM

The development lot and listing broker Salvador Almanza

In the residential real estate game, exaggeration and fluff are almost a part of an agent’s vernacular. When a home is “charming” and “cozy,” it usually means it’s tiny and claustrophobic.

And there’s the bait and switch, which is what one Lincoln Heights buyer says his broker pulled.

Jonathan Torres has filed a lawsuit against the Pico Rivera-based Century 21 Allstars brokerage and one of its agents, alleging they misrepresented the size of the development property, according to the suit.

Torres alleges that the broker, Salvador Almanza, and the seller, Ricardo Salazar, labeled the lot as 1 acre. In fact, it was roughly one quarter smaller than that, according to the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Salazar is a defendant in the suit, along with Century 21 and Almanza.

According to the suit, Torres is “in the business of purchasing and developing real estate.”

He alleges that Almanza and Salazar led him through four lots on the Griffin Avenue spread. Among them was Lot 9-1/2, a hillside property that boasts expansive views of the city and comprises about 25 percent of the entire property.

The seller and the agent repeatedly marked the entire property — whose addresses are 3106 and 3108 Griffin Avenue — as an “acre,” both in videos marketing and walk-throughs, the suit alleges.

In November, Torres, acting behind Eastside Realty Partners LLC, went into contract to buy the “one-acre lot.” He purchased it for $1.25 million, records show, and thought he had acquired all four lots. But when he received the grant deed in the mail in February, Lot 9-1/2 was missing.

Listing broker Almanza allegedly told Torres at the time that the “seller had changed his mind,” the suit says. Almanza declined to comment.

Torres’ LLC is now suing for the lot, as well as damages and attorney fees.

Jennifer Miller, who is Torres’ attorney, did not respond to requests for comment. Century 21 also did not respond to requests for comment. Torres and Salazar could not be reached.

In February 2018, a different Century 21 Allstars agent was sued, accused of misleading a client into selling a South L.A. home for far less than it was worth.