A Manhattan real estate broker featured on the hit reality show "Million Dollar Listing New York" was spotted on a recent episode digitally enhancing promotional photos of a $7 million home.
During a May episode, Luis Ortiz, 26, and his brother used Photoshop to alter promotional photos of a five-bedroom home in Manhattan's swanky Greenwich Village by adding marble countertops, hardwood floors and upgrading the kitchen.
The digital makeover caught the eye of the New York State Department, which has launched an investigation into Ortiz's business practices.
"I know this is a little white lie, but come on. A harmless lie is not going to kill anybody," Ortiz says in the episode.
The reality show, which airs on Bravo, gives millions of viewers a glimpse inside the jaw-dropping wealthy world of New York City real estate.
Brian Lewis is also a real estate broker in the hotly competitive New York City real estate market. Lewis, an executive vice president at Halstead Property, draws a line between how the industry really works and what's portrayed on reality television.
"Just because you're on TV, and just because you're on a reality show doesn't make you impervious to our rules and regulations, and the consumer has to be aware," he said. "This is a soap opera, and I've got to admit, it's pretty compelling stuff. But, America, this is not how brokerage happens. That's how good TV happens."
Ortiz addressed the incident in a blog post posted on Bravo's website, titled, "Falling Short of My Beliefs." Ortiz concluded that it "was not the best of my moments," but said he doesn't regret it because it was a learning experience.
"By doing what I did I learned what not to do in the future and that lesson is worth having done what I did. Sometimes we're told what not do, but it is only after we go through it ourselves that we then understand why it shouldn't have been done. That's when a real lesson is learned," he wrote.
Ortiz works for the Manhattan-based real estate firm Keller Williams Realty.