A lot of people are looking for extra money.
A realty company offers fast cash to homeowners -- thousands of dollars in some cases -- with no interest or fees and you don’t even have to pay it back.
MV Realty calls it the “Homeowner Benefit Program.” The company will give you up to $5,000.
All you have to do is sign the contract, saying that if and when you go to sell your house, it has to be through MV Realty for the next 40 years. If you hire another realtor in those four decades, you have to pay MV Realty a penalty: 3% of the value of your home.
And if you die, the person who inherits your home is bound too.
MV Realty wouldn’t do an interview on camera, saying “short sound bites may not provide the clarity the issue deserves.”
So it emailed a statement, saying everything is right there in the contract and that the company still makes sure homeowners understand what they’re signing, that MV Realty goes over it in “plain English” as well as legalese and even gives clients a one-page summary which also mentions the 40-year commitment. Plus, people have three days to get out of the deal after signing.
The company changed its website in the last month or so. It now mentions the 40-year commitment in big lettering at the top.
“I felt like I was taking advantage of people,” a woman who says she used to work as a telemarketer for MV Realty said.
“We were required to make at least 450 outbound calls a day,” she said.
MV Realty said, yes, that’s “part of the job description and typical for a telemarketing role.”
“They were using a number spoofer for their phone, outgoing phone calls. It would spoof any area code that you want it to,” the former telemarketer said. MV Realty admits this too, saying spoofing is standard technology.
And the former telemarketer says MV Realty targeted people who were low-income or behind on bills. The company says that is not true and calls it “totally unfounded.”
A former U.S. airman, Patricia Bandy, told Stoogenke she was looking for a short-term small loan and went online. She thinks that’s how MV Realty found her. She says they offered her $900.
Bandy says she signed the contract.
“I did receive the contract. I did read it. I understood that I would need to go through MV Realty [to sell her home],” she said. “I didn’t realize 40 years, no.”
Bandy says, about a year later, her father passed away and she decided to make good on her dream: to move somewhere with lots of land. She found six acres in Winston-Salem she liked.
She says she tried to sell her house with MV Realty, but ended up hiring someone else.
“They sent me an initial letter stating that we were bound by the contract to utilize them and that we, by not utilizing them, we were in breach of contract,” she said.
Bandy says MV Realty demanded she pay that 3% penalty for hiring another realtor. “It was $14,000 and some change,” she said. “It’s an incredible amount of money, especially when you’re middle-class working America.”
She says MV Realty filed court papers -- similar to a lien -- until she paid, which basically meant she couldn’t sell the property, which meant she couldn’t buy the one she wanted. “It was a timeframe issue. We could have taken it to court. We could have won. But, if we had, we would have lost the whole reason we started this process to begin with, she said.
So Bandy says she paid the $14,000. “I’m angry. I’m angry. I don’t like being taken advantage of. I work hard for the money that I have. I have a family to take care of. And what they did essentially was try to stop us from having our piece of, what we consider, to be the American dream,” she said.
MV Realty disagrees. It told Stoogenke it was very quick to help sell Bandy’s house and that it even found her a buyer. The company says she didn’t have legal standing to cut ties.
Multiple states are investigating MV Realty’s practices: Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. Massachusetts says the company’s on its radar as well.
No matter what company you deal with:
Read the fine print.
If you have questions, ask someone you trust.
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