TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that she is suing a Florida real estate company for “swindling” homeowners.
Moody said she filed a complaint for injunctive and monetary relief against Florida-based MV Realty.
Moody claims that the company used “deceptive, unfair and unconscionable business practices that result in homeowners signing away home equity for a paltry upfront payment.”
According to Moody, MV Realty offered homeowners $300 to $5,000 as a cash loan alternative in exchange for an agreement to use the company as an exclusive listing broker. However, after accepting the payment, Moody said the homeowner find out that the company filed a 40-year lien on the property that requires paying 3% of the value of the home to MV Realty, regardless of whether the company ever provides any real estate listing services.
“For many Floridians, their home is their most important asset and the cornerstone of their financial stability. For a company to prey on unsuspecting homeowners in a way that locks them into a 40-year obligation designed to siphon away equity from the property is disgraceful. Today, I filed legal action to end this deceitful practice and protect Florida homeowners from further harm,” Moody said.
The complaint says that MV Realty offers a small payment to consumers with the promise that there is no obligation to return the cash. It said the homeowner will owe MV Realty nothing unless the home is sold.
“However, what is not clearly disclosed is that the company records a lien on the home so that if at any time within 40 years the home is foreclosed upon or transferred to heirs upon the homeowner’s death, or if homeowners simply wish to cancel the deal, MV Realty attempts to take 3% of the home’s value,” the complaint said.
According to Moody, liens often make it difficult or sometimes impossible for the homeowner to refinance or otherwise tap into home equity.
Moody also said the company used “abusive and deceptive telemarketing practices” by calling millions of people on the National Do-Not-Call Registry and leaving millions of pre-recorded voicemails.
Moody said the action seeks to “enjoin enforcement of MV Realty’s contracts with consumers, enjoin future deceptive and unfair practices, return the money the defendants wrongfully took from homeowners and impose civil penalties for defendants’ willful violations of the law.”
To read the full complaint, click here.