JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida real estate company filed bankruptcy in 33 states Friday morning after an almost year-long Action News Jax investigation into its questionable contracts.
Also, the state has taken action against MV Realty; this time going after its finances. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked a judge to freeze the real estate company’s operations and assets, essentially stopping it in its tracks.
SEE THE FILING BELOW:
Also this month, members of the U.S. Senate are pressing for answers about MV’s 40-year listing agreements, hundreds of which are in our area. They are no longer enforceable thanks to a new state law passed this year after Action News Jax’s coverage of the company.
MV Realty asks homeowners to sign a 40-year listing agreement in exchange for a small sum of quick cash.
Sheila Feliciano is one of nearly 600 people hamstrung by MV Realty’s homeowner benefit agreement. She accepted $650 dollars in cash to sign a listing contract that lasts longer than the mortgage on her home. When she tried to sell it, MV Realty put a lien on the property and tied her up in court.
“It was a sweet, fast talk,” Feliciano said, but when reality set in and she couldn’t sell, “I got depressed. I felt like I was in prison.”
But now, she has hope. Since our series of investigations, 6 state attorneys general have taken legal action. Sixteen states, including Florida, have enacted new legislation targeting the company’s controversial contracts and liens.
Florida’s law outlaws enforcement of them, but thousands of people like Terrie Farr in Georgia are still bound by the terms.
“For someone to pretty much play on your weakness at a time that you’re weak, naive and vulnerable,” Farr said. “It was very devastating.”
And that’s why this month, 3 U.S. Senate committee chairmen sent MV Realty this letter, writing that “Even though MV Realty has temporarily suspended new enrollment ... it continues to advertise …” continuing “that they are concerned about homeowners already enrolled the potential for future harm.” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown signed the letter. As he puts it, “when a company acts like that, they laugh all the way to the bank.”
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But MV Realty may not have access to that bank account for long. Friday morning, the company declared bankruptcy in all 33 states where it operates.
“Everybody gets her day in court, his day in court,” Brown said, “and they should be punished because they deserve it. They should be punished. So nobody else does this.
We have reached out to MV Realty about its filing but has not gotten back to us. In March, the company said in a statement in part, “MV Realty remains confident that the homeowner benefit program fully complies with the law and benefits consumers who receive a cash incentive to select MV Realty as their listing agent. MV Realty has voluntarily and temporarily paused entering into any new agreements.”