An investigative report by WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta found that one "real estate" company is locking homeowners into a 40–year licensing agreement using predatory practices on the elderly and vulnerable in predominantly 'black' neighborhoods, according to Georgia State University data research.
Georgia homeowners: If you need quick cash, please read the fine print before signing the Homeowner Benefit Agreement contract with MV Realty.
This is a multi-state real estate company that is targeting Georgia homeowners that may not understand what they are signing up for.
This article shares what happened to one elderly woman and another man, a disabled Navy veteran, who both learned the real truth about the quick cash that turned into liens on their respective homes when they tried to sell.
They both spoke to Channel 2 Action News about the whole ordeal. Find out what happened.
MV Realty Coerced an Elderly Homeowner to Sign a Contract When She Needed Financial Assistance
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News reported on 17 November 2022 about an investigation into what appears to be predatory practices on some of the most vulnerable people in our community — the first story is about a woman who can’t read very well.
Channel 2 Action News investigator Justin Gray spoke to Julia Henry, a 75-year-old woman, that lives in Columbus, Georgia, about 1 hr. and 35 minutes south of Atlanta.
He first asked her if she would ever sign a 40-year contract, and she replied, "No, I would never do that."
She explained what she was trying to do when she first discovered MV Realty.
She was seeking out a grant to help her pay for her expensive plumbing bill.
She explained to Justin Gray that “she left school in the sixth grade,” which is why she can’t read very well.
In order to overcome this difficulty, “her family taught her how to use a voice text function on her cellphone. After “asking Google” for grant help, she found herself on the phone with a company she said offered to give her about $500 to help with her house.” (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
After finding this company (which turned out to be “MV Realty”) they sent a woman out to her house in late February of 2021 to “sign paperwork to get $425” but Julia Henry didn’t fully understand what was taking place.
She assumed she was signing for a grant to help her with her plumbing bills.
Julia Henry described when the woman from MV Realty came to her house.
“She said, ‘sign right there, sign right there’ and I just kept signing.” -Julia Henry, Columbus, GA homeowner (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
Julia Henry “later learned she signed a contract called a Homeowner Benefit Agreement with Florida-based MV Realty to give them exclusive rights to list her home for the next 40 years.”
Her case went to court, because “she never read the contract and was never given a copy of the paperwork. Henry was later sued by MV Realty for violating her contract after putting her home on the market with another real estate company.” (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
MV Realty responded to this claim after investigator Justin Gray reached out to them. They responded by email to Channel 2 Action News that they doubt the claim the July Henry can’t read, calling it “dubious at best.”
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News reported that MV Realty eventually dropped its lawsuit against Ms. Julia Henry when her lawyer “fought back in court.”
Now Julia Henry warns all of her neighbors against doing business with MV Realty, for obvious reasons.
She said to news investigator Justin Gray:
“I ask everybody y’all know MV Realty? Well don’t get tied up with them. Those are some bad folks.” -Julia Henry, Columbus, GA homeowner (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
Isn’t it sad when a “real estate company” is signing innocent old ladies to 40-year contracts?
The 'Homeowner Benefit Program' Offered by MV Realty
On MV Realty’s website, it advertises the “Homeowner Benefit Program,” that promises “between 300-$5,000 cash without taking out a loan.”
The company boasts the benefits of this program, such as:
- “No Obligation to Sell Your Home
- Not a Loan
- Absolutely No Credit Check
- No Need to Make Payments
- No Regrets 3-Day Right to Rescind
- A 40 Year Agreement — long term relationship”
It states on this website page, “In the event you sell your home without an agent or with another brokerage, you will owe a termination fee equal to the amount of commission.”
(Source: MV Realty)
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News reported that Henry’s lawyer, Dina Franch questions if the Homeowner Benefit Program offered by MV Realty is even legal under Georgia state law.
She argues that despite what their website claims, the money they provided to Julia Henry was a loan because they secured a lien on her home.
Dina Franch said to WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News:
“It raises a huge number of concerns about the legality,” Mancini said. “And if this is a loan transaction, which there are a lot of facts that suggest this is really a loan, if that’s the case, they violated the Truth in Lending Act.” -Dina Franch, Atlanta Legal aid (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News noted that MV Realty’s website was later updated to include these disclosures that the Homeowner Benefit Program is “not a loan.”
Dina Franch also said:
“It’s really unconscionable and it’s a very lopsided contract by a sophisticated company against unsophisticated homeowners.” -Dina Franch, Atlanta Legal aid (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News Spoke to a Former Employee and Whistleblower
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News investigator Justin Gray spoke to a former MV Realty employee and whistleblower that shared about their former employer’s business practices.
It should be noted that MV Realty maintains that they “do not cold call” and “only reach out to prospects who have opted-in to receive the information.”
The former employee and whistleblower said otherwise.
They told WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News:
“It was a cold call to these people, and they were unsuspecting. I felt like I was taking advantage of people. It’s horrible,” they said. “I didn’t want to make calls anymore.” -Anonymous former MV employee (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
MV Realty Signed up a Disabled Navy Veteran from a Cold Call
Another homeowner and disabled Navy veteran, Ira Dorin, ended up having to pay MV Realty over $9,000 for violating his Homeowner Benefit Program contract.
It all started when he was first contacted in a cold call by an MV Realty employee, that told him “they were running a promotion in your neighborhood.”
He too signed the Homeowner Benefit Program, and received upfront cash, despite not understanding the terms of the contract.
He didn’t even know he was being sued by MV Realty until he was contacted by a Channel 2 Action News producer to ask about the lawsuit, and then Dorin learned about the lien MV Realty placed on his home in Cobb County. The lien happened within days of when Dorin was supposed to close on the sale of his home.
Justin Gray asked him:
“If you’d realize what you were signing, would you have signed a 40-year listing agreement?”
“No, I would have not. The gentleman said if I chose to opt-out, I would just go ahead and give him the $817 and we’ll be on my merry way.” -Ira Dorin, disabled Navy veteran (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
So not only are the elderly being targeted but they are also being lied to about the terms of the agreement.
Investigator Justin Gray Asks Georgia State University for Data Research
WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News investigator Justin Gray contacted Georgia State University for assistance in researching the demographics of all of the homes in the Atlanta Metro area that have signed a contract with MV Realty.
After further research, Georgia State University found that “71% are in majority Black neighborhoods.” (Source: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News)
The map below shows their findings in the Atlanta metro.
From what WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News has uncovered, Atlanta homeowners should be aware of what looks like predatory practices by MV Realty.
It is a shady business practice to have homeowners sign 40-year contracts to cause harm to those that don’t truly understand what they are signing.
Most realtors use a standard 6-month term when signing a new client to sell their home, and rarely take a client to court if the client decides to back out of the agreement.
If you have experienced something like what is described in this article, please share your experience in the comments, and please share this article on social media so everyone can be informed about MV Realty.
MV Realty official website: “Homeowner Benefit Program”
Gray, Justin. “Homeowners who signed up for quick cash say they didn’t know about 40-year commitment.” WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News. 17 November 2022.