Lawsuit filed against company accused of luring homeowners into 40-year commitment with quick cash

ATLANTA, Ga. — There is a major new development in a Channel 2 Action News investigation.

The Florida attorney general is taking legal action against a Florida company accused of roping buyers into 40-year listing agreements that attorneys say swindle homeowners out of their home equity.

MV Realty has thousands of contracts in Georgia. A new 42-page lawsuit charges that the company’s 40-year listing agreements are “unfair and unconscionable” and that company employees “use deceptive and abusive telemarketing advertising practices ... with the goal of swindling consumers out of their home equity.”

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“If it’s unfair and deceptive, then they have violated the law and that’s what the Florida attorney general is asking here,” said Sarah Mancini, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray has been reporting on concerns with MV Realty’s homeowner benefit agreements in a series of exclusive Channel 2 Action News investigations.

The company cuts homeowners an immediate check for a few hundred dollars, but in return, they are required to sell their homes with MV Realty for the next 40 years or pay them 3% of the sale price of the home.


The company is based in Florida, but Gray found homeowner agreements in 33 states nationwide.

In the lawsuit, Florida’s attorney general is seeking to stop enforcement of MV contracts, return money to homeowners and impose civil penalties.

“I think the relief they’re seeking is very powerful, and is exactly the kind of relief consumers would be looking for,” Mancini said

MV Realty released a statement to Channel 2 Action News, writing:

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“MV Realty has always been committed to transparency in all of our business transactions, and we are confident that any inquiry will confirm that our team has operated in full compliance with the law.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the Federal Trade Commission also have open, active investigations into MV Realty.

The Florida AG’s office tells us Florida law gives them the authority to take action against Florida companies that affect out-of-state residents.

Homeowners who signed on the dotted line told Gray they didn’t read the fine print on a deal that could cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.

“Would you ever sign a 40-year contract?” Gray asked 75-year-old Julia Henry. “No,” she said. “I would never do that.”

Henry was looking for a grant to fix plumbing in her Columbus, Georgia home. In an affidavit, Henry said she left school in the sixth grade and can’t read very well, so her family taught her how to use a voice text function on her cellphone.

After searching online for grant help, she found herself on the phone with a company she said offered to give her about $500 to help with her house.

When a woman came to her home late February 2021 and asked Henry to sign paperwork to get $425, she said it didn’t seem unusual because she’d received grants in the past.

“She said, ‘Sign right there, sign right there’ and I just kept signing,” Henry said.

Henry said she later learned she signed a contract called a Homeowner Benefit Agreement with MV Realty to give them exclusive rights to list her home for the next 40 years. In court records, Henry said she never read the contract and was never given a copy of the paperwork. Henry was later sued by MV Realty for violating her contract after putting her home on the market with another real estate company.

By email, MV Realty told Channel 2 Action News that they believe Henry’s claim she can’t read is “dubious at best.” MV Realty dropped its lawsuit and canceled the lien on Henry’s home after her attorney fought back in court.

Disabled Navy veteran Ira Dorin said he got a call out of the blue from a telemarketer during dinner.

“I got a phone call from a gentleman that said, ‘This is from MV Realty,’” Dorin told Gray. “(He said), ‘We’re running a promotion in your neighborhood.’”

Dorin also received upfront cash from MV Realty for signing a Homeowner Benefit Agreement, but said he didn’t understand the terms. Dorin learned he was being sued by MV Realty when a Channel 2 Action News producer called to ask about the lawsuit. He learned there was a lien on his Cobb County home days before he was scheduled to close the sale.

“If you’d realize what you were signing, would you have signed a 40-year listing agreement?” Gray asked.

“No, I would have not,” Dorin said. “The gentleman said if I chose to opt out, I would just go ahead and give him the $817 and we’ll be on my merry way.”

Instead, Dorin paid MV Realty more than $9,000 for violating his contract.

According to Georgia Superior Court Clerk, there are 3,321 MV Realty Homeowner Benefit Agreements in 104 Georgia counties. About 2,000 of those were here in metro Atlanta.

Atlanta Legal Aid attorney Dina Franch told Gray she uses a magnifying glass to read MV Realty’s contracts because the print is so small.

“It’s really unconscionable and it’s a very lopsided contract by a sophisticated company against unsophisticated homeowners,” Franch said.

Atlanta Legal Aid started researching MV Realty after being contacted by Julia Henry. With help from a Georgia State University researcher and law students, they mapped homes with MV Contracts and found 71% are in majority-Black neighborhoods.

MV Realty refused our request for an on-camera interview, but in response to written questions, told Channel 2, “The company has gone to great lengths to disclose and re-disclose these key provisions of the agreement, so there is no confusion among our customers.”

“Does it seem like the business model is intentional confusion here?” Gray asked Franch.

“Definitely, in my client’s case,” Franch said.

Former employee raises concerns

MV Realty also maintains they only call homeowners who reach out to them.

“We do not cold-call. We only reach out to prospects who have opted in to receive information from us,” they said.

However, a former MV Realty employee, who asked not to be identified, said their job was to cold=-call homeowners.

“(My job) was a cold call to these people, and they were unsuspecting,” the employee said.

That employee eft MV Realty over concerns about the company’s ethics.

“I felt like I was taking advantage of people. It’s horrible,” the former employee said. “I didn’t want to make calls anymore.”

MV Realty’s own internal training materials obtained by Channel 2 Action News support the employee’s claims.

A slideshow presentation for new hires states, “At some point, these homeowners went online and filled out a form requesting some form of financial assistance – loans, refinance, mortgage, etc. MV purchased these leads from various sources.”

The training materials even contain different scripts for telemarketers to use, depending on the source of the lead.

Legal questions about the contract

Franch questions if the Homeowner Benefit Program is even legal in the first place. When MV Realty took Henry to court for allegedly violating her contract, Franch argued the company violated Federal Trade Commission laws. She also argued that in Henry’s case, Georgia law allows real estate brokers to lien commercial properties over listing agreements, but does not specify if that’s allowed in residential sales.

“So, in your mind, there’s some question is whether this is even legal under Georgia law?,” Gray asked.

“There is some question in my mind, yes,” Franch said.

Sarah Mancini with the National Consumer Law Center said MV Realty’s program could be considered a loan secured by a lien on the home.

“It raises a huge number of concerns about the legality,” Mancini said. “And if this is a loan transaction, which there are a lot of facts that suggest this is really a loan, if that’s the case, they violated the Truth in Lending Act.

MV Realty’s website was updated in recent weeks to include clear disclosures about the Homeowner Benefit Program at the top of the page.

The site now states the homeowner benefit agreement is “not a loan,” and they do not lien property but “file a memorandum … to serve public notice of the homeowner’s obligations.”

Channel 2 Action News teamed up with seven other Cox Media Group sister stations and spoke to homeowners across the country who signed MV Realty contracts and said they didn’t understand the terms of the agreement until it was too late to back out.

MV Realty said in a statement via email:

“MV Realty does a thorough legal analysis in every state we do business. Our agreement is compliant with all state laws, including those regarding real estate contracts.”

Henry told Gray her warning to homeowners who get a call from MV Realty:

“I ask everybody, ‘Y’all know MV Realty? Well, don’t get tied up with them. Those are some bad folks,’” Henry said.