GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — You get a big check just for signing up – that’s part of the sales pitch from a real estate company doing business in metro Atlanta.
But you are also signing up for a contract that runs 40 years.
MV Realty is based in Florida and advertises a “Homeowner Benefit Program.” A check is cut right away when you sign up. It could be from $300 to $5,000 depending on the value of your home.
Then MV Realty has the exclusive right to sell your home for the next 40 years.
Wanda Babb currently sleeps in a motor home outside of her fire-damaged Gwinnett County home.
She was supposed to close on the sale of her house May 26 to move to Florida with her daughter.
But the sale was blocked because MV Realty has a lien on the property.
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MV Realty said it has the exclusive right to sell the property, not other realtors.
“They saw a sick person with a sick house and come after her,” Wanda Babb told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray.
“I have never heard of anything like this – never, not ever,” said Channel 2 consumer advisor Clark Howard.
The penalty to cancel a MV Homeowner Benefit contract is 3% of the value of your home.
In Babb’s case, that’s more than $6,000.
“Anytime somebody tells you, ‘Hey, we’re going to pay you just to list with us,’ there’s danger there. That’s not how the real estate business operates,” Howard said.
Babb said she was in bed recovering from a hospitalization for a fall when the MV representative showed up.
“She sat on the edge of the bed. I don’t know what all she said. I have no idea,” Babb said.
But MV Realty says it was Babb who originally contacted them. MV Realty told us in a statement:
“The allegations made by Ms. Babb and her attorney are unfortunately not true. The company at all times takes steps to ensure that its customers understand the program and enter into the program only if they choose to do so. Ms. Babb asked many questions about the program before she decided to join the program and was pleased when she entered into the program and collected the $700 paid to her under the program.”
Babb’s attorney, Jeffrey Jackson, said the MV agent should have been able to see she wasn’t well.
“That person should have known that no agreement should have been entered into. But they continued to enter into it,” Jackson said.
“Have either of you ever seen a 40-year listing agreement?” Gray asked the listing and buyers’ agents on the home. “Never, never,” they responded.
Both agents, Rebecca Broich and Jane Seanar, told Gray they have agreed to forgo their commissions so Babb can pay the penalty to MV Realty and sell the home.
“They’re holding her hostage, and this is paying the ransom to get out,” Broich said.
MV Realty says the homeowner benefit program is fully complaint with Georgia law.
MV said the homeowner does not have to sell the house. But if they do, it must be through them.
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