Home News Metro homeowners who signed up for quick cash say they didn’t know about 40-year commitment

Metro homeowners who signed up for quick cash say they didn’t know about 40-year commitment

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A real estate company is offering Subway homeowners a check for hundreds of dollars, but it comes with a 40-year commitment.

The homeowner signed in dotted line said Channel 2 Consumer Researcher Justin Gray They were misled about the terms of the deal that could cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.

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

Henry was looking for a grant to fix the plumbing at his home in Columbus, Georgia. In her affidavit, Henry stated that she left school in her sixth grade and that she could not read very well, so her family could not use her phone’s voice-to-text feature. I taught her After “asking Google” for her grant assistance, she offered to give her about $500 to support her own home, she said, calling her company and I noticed that you are doing

When a woman came to her home in late February 2021 and asked Henry to sign papers to receive $425, she said it wasn’t unusual because she had received grants in the past. .

“She said, ‘Sign now, sign now,’ and I kept signing,” Henry said.

Henry later said he learned he had signed a deal called the Homeowners Benefits Agreement with Florida-based MV Realty that would give him exclusive rights to list her home for the next 40 years.

Court records say Henry never read the contract and was never given a copy of the paperwork. Henry then put the house up for sale with another real estate agency before he was sued by MV Realty for breaching the contract.

More stories from the two investigators:

In an email, MV Realty said. channel 2 action news They believe Henry’s claim that she cannot read is “doubtful at best”. MV Realty dropped the lawsuit and canceled the lien on her home after her lawyers fought back in court.

Ira Dolin, a disabled Navy veteran, said she got a sudden phone call from a telemarketer during dinner.

“I got a call from a gentleman saying this was from MV Realty,” Dorin told Gray.[He said] We are doing promotions in your neighborhood. ”

Dorin also received an advance payment from MV Realty for signing a homeowners benefit agreement, but said she didn’t understand the terms. Dorin finds out he’s being sued by MV Realty. channel 2 action news The producer called to inquire about the lawsuit. He learned there was a lien on his home in Cobb County days before he was due to complete his sale.

“Would you have signed a 40-year listing deal if you knew what you were signing?” asked Gray.

“No, you wouldn’t,” said Dorin. “Gentleman, if I choose to opt out, I’ll go ahead and give him $817 and we’ll be on our merry way,” he said.

Instead, Dorin paid MV Realty over $9,000 for breach of contract.

According to the Georgia Superior Court Clerk, there are 3,321 MV Realty homeowner benefit contracts in 104 counties in Georgia. About 2,000 of them were here on the Atlanta subway.

Atlanta Legal Aid Attorney Dina Franchi told Gray she uses a magnifying glass to read MV Realty contracts because the print is so small.

“It’s really unconscionable and a very biased contract by a sophisticated company to an unsophisticated homeowner,” said Franch.

Atlanta Legal Aid launched an investigation into MV Realty after being contacted by Julia Henry.

With the help of Georgia State University researchers and law students, they mapped homes with MV contracts and found that 71% were in predominantly black neighborhoods.

MV Realty declined a request for an on-camera interview, but responded to written questions. channel 2 action news“We have made great efforts to disclose and redisclose these material terms of our agreements, so there is no confusion among our customers.”

“Does the business model here look like a deliberate mess?” Gray asked Fran.

“It’s definitely the case with my client,” Franch said.

Former employee voices concern

MV Realty also claims to only call homeowners who reach out to them. They said: We only contact prospective customers who have opted in to receive information from us. ”

But former MV Realty employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their job is to recruit homeowners. The whistleblower said it was “a cold call to these people, they were vulnerable.”

The employee said he left MV Realty over concerns about the company’s ethics. “I felt like I was taking advantage of people. It was horrible,” they said. “I didn’t want to call you anymore”

MV Realty’s own internal training materials acquired by channel 2 action news I support the employee’s claim.

In a slideshow presentation for new hires, he said, “At some point, these homeowners went online and filled out a form requesting some form of financial assistance, such as a loan, refinancing, or mortgage. purchased from various sources.

The training materials also include different scripts telemarketers use, depending on the source of the lead.

Contract legal questions

Attorney Dina Franchi Homeowner Benefit Program It’s even legal.

When MV Realty took Henry to court on suspicion of breach of contract, Franch claimed the company was violating Federal Trade Commission law. She also noted in Henry’s lawsuit that Georgia law allows real estate brokers to mortgage commercial real estate rather than listing contracts, but did not specify whether that was permitted in home sales. claimed not to.

“So, in your opinion, is there any question as to whether this is legal under Georgia law?” asked Gray.

“Yes, I have some questions on my mind,” Frank said.

Sarah Mancini of the National Consumer Law Center said MV Realty’s program could be viewed as a mortgage secured by a residential lien.

“There are so many concerns about legality,” Mancini said. “If this is a loan transaction, if there are many facts suggesting that this is indeed a loan, they are violating the truth of the lending law.

MV Realty’s website has been updated in recent weeks to include clearer disclosures about its homeowner benefits program at the top of the page. The site now states that homeowner benefit agreements are “not loans,” and that rather than mortgage the property, they “submit a memorandum of understanding … to publicly notify the homeowner of their obligations.” to …” he said.

channel 2 action news We spoke with homeowners across the country who have partnered with seven other Cox Media Group sister stations and signed MV Realty deals.

North Carolina and Florida Attorneys General are investigating MV Realty.

The office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in an email that it does not comment on public investigations, so it is looking into the company as well.

MV Realty said in an email: Our contracts are governed by all state laws, including those relating to real estate contracts. ”

Henry gives Gray a warning to homeowners who get a call from MV Realty. Well, don’t be bound by them. Those guys are bad guys. ”

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