JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An Action News Jax investigation into the questionable business practices of a Florida-based real estate company is getting results nationwide. Now, a seventh state is taking action. North Carolina filed a lawsuit against MV Realty.
It’s a story we have been following since November 22, 2022.
Action News Jax investigates uncovered nearly 600 homeowners in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia who signed contracts with MV Realty. Those contracts promised quick cash in exchange for a 40-year agreement to use MV Realty if they ever sold their home. Many are unaware until a lien against their home stopped the sale.
Sheila Feliciano is one of them. “It was a sweet, fast talk, you know?” she said. “I want to be rid of the contract and rid of MV. Like it was like a bad nightmare I want to wake up from.”
LEGAL ACTION TAKEN
Over the past six months, we’ve been working alongside reporters from our sister stations in seven states -- all of us investigating MV Realty and its practices. Now, we’ve seen legal action in all seven states and at the federal level. MV Realty’s contracts also allowed them to place a lien on their clients’ homes. But in February, a state court in Massachusetts ordered MV Realty to stop filing liens against homeowners.
Florida-based MV Realty is active in 33 states. Four of those states, Florida being the first, filed suit against the company. Two other states are in the middle of active investigations. Now a fifth state, North Carolina is taking MV Realty to court.
On Tuesday Attorney General Josh Stein filed the complaint, alleging that MV Realty was preying on vulnerable people to trick them into unfair, long-term agreements.
The suit comes as the Federal Communications Commission is taking action against the company for its use of robocalls. And a group of U.S. Senators is calling for a federal investigation.
OUR TRIP TO DELRAY HEADQUARTERS
After months of refusing an in-person interview, Action News Jax made the four-hour drive to MV Realty’s Delray Beach home office.
We wanted answers for the multiple customer complaints, but they wouldn’t even answer the door. “Five people peeked around the corner and then one guy walked in that back office back there,” said Action News Jax Investigative Reporter Emily Turner. “Looks like he was calling or texting somebody.”
They called the cops rather than talk to us themselves. “I don’t know what to tell you,” said the officer. “If you want to set up on the sidewalk, there is nothing they can say about that. And nothing I can do about that. Totally your right.” The officer is correct. We not only have a right to be there, but we also have an obligation to our viewers.
MV REALTY RESPONSE
MV Realty has never agreed to an interview.
However, they have answered questions and issued statements saying their business fully complies with the law, but it no longer signs new contracts with customers as it works through its current legal issues.
MV Realty statement: “MV Realty and our team of licensed real estate agents have proudly assisted over 35,000 satisfied homeowners across the country through our innovative homeowner benefit agreement (HBA) program.
“The HBA program compensates homeowners for the future right to list the home if they choose to sell within the term of the agreement.
“The HBA program is an innovative option that is first and foremost designed to benefit homeowners by ensuring they are compensated for the exclusive right to list their home. Under a traditional real estate transaction model, homeowners would enter into an exclusive 6-month listing agreement with agents who don’t provide the homeowner any payment for this exclusive right.
“If a homeowner decides to sell their home during the term of the HBA, MV’s locally licensed real estate brokers serve the same role as any licensed real estate broker and receive a 3% commission for its services pursuant to the HBA. This fee aligns with the standard market rate for virtually all residential real estate transaction commissions. “Notably, there are no liens put on a customer’s property and the HBA does not affect or cloud the title. Consistent with the law, mv files a memorandum that simply informs third parties of the existence of the agreement between the property owner and mv realty.
“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.
“We hope to work with policymakers in North Carolina to address concerns and continue this valuable program as an option to homeowners across the state.”
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