ATLANTA — A controversial real estate company has been signing up thousands of Georgians for its 40-year listing agreements.
But since a Channel 2 Action News investigation in the fall, that all appears to have been put on pause.
Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray has found since our investigations into MV Realty started, there have been no new signed agreements filed here in Georgia.
But what we are seeing is more concerning the consequences of the agreements that have already been signed.
As attorneys predicted to us, the penalties for the deals stick around even after you are dead.
“I want somebody to wring their neck,” said Betty Weidenhoft, 85, who lost her 66-yea-old son Ron Glenn in August.
It wasn’t until months later when she was trying to settle his estate that she first heard about the company that’s now causing her both heartache and financial pain -- MV Realty.
“They robbed her. I mean, to me, they absolutely robbed her,” said Allan McPherson, Glenn’s partner of 17 years.
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In a series of Channel 2 Action News Investigates stories, Gray has reported on MV Realty and its 40-year listing agreements.
You get a small check now, but a potential big penalty later – 3% of the value of your home if you don’t use them as your real estate agent.
One of the things attorneys have been warning us about since the start is that these 40-year deals continue even after you are dead.
“I say, ‘He died. The contract is gone.’ Oh, no, it’s not a contract with him. It’s a contract with his property,” McPherson said.
According to the fine print, once you die, your heirs are on the clock.
Heirs must reach out to MV Realty within 10 days of the person’s death, or you owe MV money. A 3% early termination fee is triggered at death.
Sarah Mancini from the National Consumer Law Center said it might be the most concerning thing about the whole contract.
“Most people after the death of a loved one, they’re not going to be able to deal with this within 10 days, and they’re probably not even going to know about it,” Mancini said.
Her son signed with MV Realty while he was sick, just days after leaving the hospital, and never told her or Allen.
“They took advantage of an extremely sick, dying man,” McPherson said.
INVESTIGATIONS BY OUR SISTER STATIONS ON MV REALTY:
- Former MV Realty employee explains how company used ‘deceptive’ robocalls to target homeowners
- Florida sues realty company and reality-star founder for ‘swindling’ homeowners across U.S.
- Senators call on consumer protection agencies to investigate exclusive real estate listing agreement
- Florida Attorney General takes action against real estate company Action 9 first investigated last year
- Mass. AG sues Florida-based real estate company for “predatory” practices
In our Channel 2 Action News investigation in the fall, we found 3,321 MV Realty homeowner agreements in 104 Georgia counties. About 2,000 of those were in metro Atlanta.
But since our Channel 2 Action News investigations began airing in November, the agreements seem to have stopped.
There have been no new signed MV Realty homeowner agreements filed with court clerks in Georgia.
But there have been lawsuits launched by attorneys general in three states against MV Realty and enforcement action taken by the FCC.
But Weidenhoft’s son signed an MV contract before all that, so she was forced to pay MV $23,250. That’s 3% of what MV Realty values her son’s home at $750,000.
But to add insult to injury, the actual sale price of the house was only $530,000.
“I don’t mind paying something that’s honest and above board. But I don’t like to be taken advantage of. And I feel they’re taking advantage big,” Weidenhoft said.
MV Realty told Gray that they won’t answer any specific questions because of the lawsuits from the attorneys general.
They sent him a statement, that said, in part:
“New and innovative business models, like the HBA, can transform established industries and can sometimes draw questions from critics or outright hostility from those whose existing business model is threatened. However, to suggest that MV Realty has engaged in unfair or deceptive practices is simply false.”
That is something the lawsuits by the attorneys general dispute.
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