ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Attorney General’s office is taking legal action against a major real estate company they say defrauded homeowners with quick cash offers.
Action 9’s Todd Ulrich first reported on the company more than a year ago, and in a recent investigation, Ulrich found that dozens of local consumers signed contracts with MV Realty, not realizing it was a 40-year agreement is to sell their house or they would have. to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
The state’s lawsuit could mean big refunds for homeowners and demand that the company change its deceptive practices.
The attorney general’s complaint takes direct aim at MV Realty and its Homeowner Benefit Program, calling it a “complex and deceptive scheme that attempts to avoid existing Florida law with the intent of defrauding consumers.”
“Did you feel trapped?” Urich asked.
“I did. I really did,” Carla Turman replied.
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Turman told Ulrich that she thought the free money MV Realty was offering was a payday loan and didn’t understand the contract. Then the company filed a lien against Turman’s home when she tried to sell it on her own. The contract gave MV Realty the exclusive right to sell her home for 40 years and canceling the deal would cost thousands.
“They told me to use them,” Turman explained.
In his complaint, the attorney general calls the cash offers and contracts “deceptive and confusing.”
Action 9’s investigation found MV Reality filed lawsuits against 62 homeowners, like Turman, in central Florida who tried to sell homes with someone else. The state’s complaint called those liens “unfair and unconscionable.”
Action 9 was part of a joint investigation by Cox Media Group stations across the country that uncovered similar complaints in seven states where homeowners had no idea what they were signing or how much it would cost.
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“I have not seen any contract. I didn’t see anything,” said a homeowner near Atlanta.
The attorney general’s investigation found homeowners did not understand the free money offers and its court filing called MV Realty’s telemarketing and sales pitches “deceptive and abusive.”
“For homeowners who signed those contracts, is this attorney general lawsuit a big deal?” Ulrich asked.
“This is, the attorney general says, we don’t care Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner if you signed this, this is an illegal contract,” said real estate attorney Karen Wonsetler.
Wonsetler told Ulrich that if the attorney general’s complaint is successful, it would force MV Realty to repay money wrongfully collected, and MV Realty would not be able to enforce existing lien contracts against homeowners. Liens that deprived homeowners of real equity.
“What the state is asking for, they’re asking for a court order to invalidate those liens, which make them not worth the paper they’re written on, recorded or not,” Wonsetler explained.
Ulrich contacted MV Realty at its corporate office near Fort Lauderdale. The company said its attorney is reviewing the complaint, and it is confident that the transactions were transparent and that its team acted in full compliance with the law.
The attorney general’s complaint alleges unfair and deceptive trade, and it demands that the real estate company change the way it does business in the future.
In its response to Action 9, MV Realty said it has more than 30,000 satisfied customers in Florida and across the country.
MV Realty Response:
“Earlier yesterday, the Florida Attorney General issued a press release stating that she had filed a complaint against MV Realty. Our attorney is reviewing the complaint. MV Realty has helped more than 30,000 satisfied customers across the country and in Florida through our Homeowner Benefit Program. Our company is proud to employ hundreds of locally licensed real estate agents, including many in Florida. MV Realty has always been committed to transparency in all our business dealings, and we are confident that any inquiry will confirm that our team operates in full compliance with the law.”
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