The Florida attorney general’s office is suing real estate brokerage MV Realty for what it calls a “complex and deceptive scheme,” that could swindle consumers out of their home equity, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
MV Realty’s Homeowner Benefit Program gives homeowners who sign up for the program $300 to $5,000 in cash as a loan alternative.
The lawsuit describes this program as “misleading and confusing” because the contract requires homeowners to give the brokerage the exclusive right to list their homes for 40 years.
If someone lists their property for sale during these four decades and does not use MV Realty as its listing broker, or if the home is foreclosed upon, or if someone wants to cancel the deal, the company would be paid 3% of the property’s value, according to the contract.
The program also allows MV Realty to place a lien on the home, which makes accessing home equity through refinancing, reverse mortgages and home equity lines of credit, difficult for the owners.
The Attorney General stated in the lawsuit that these liens are illegal under Florida law. It also stated the company used “deceptive and abusive telemarketing and advertising” tools and propagated the program as a loan alternative.
The lawsuit states MV Realty has made more than 9,123 public record filings that “cloud” homeowners’ titles and that Hillsborough County is one of the counties with a high number of public record filings.
Today, at least 588 people in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia have signed up to the program.
MV Realty spokesperson Diana London said the company’s attorney is reviewing the complaint and that the company stands for “transparency in all of our business transactions.”
The attorney general has asked the judge to stop MV Realty from enforcing any further contracts under the Homeowner Benefit program, to return any money it took from homeowners and to impose civil penalties on MV Realty.