Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen has been calling out what he says are corrupt practices by MV Realty for months.

On Tuesday, March 21, NC Attorney General Josh Stein announced that his office had filed a lawsuit against the real estate brokerage firm as well as against the company’s leaders.  The suit alleges that the company “violated North Carolina’s laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices, usurious lending, abusive telephone solicitation practices, and unfair debt collection practices by tricking homeowners into signing oppressive, 40-year real estate agreements.“

According to a March 21 press release from the Attorney General’s office, the state’s Department of Justice has received over 20 complaints from people regarding MV Realty’s “unfair and allegedly unlawful practices.”

The company would entice homeowners into a contract with amounts up to $5,000. In return, the homeowner would enter into a four-decade long Homeowner Benefit Agreement (HBA) promising to retain MV Realty as the listing agent for the home and awarding it a commission.

Just before Christmas of last year, Thigpen wrote the Attorney General’s office about the practices.

“While like a listing agreement, MV Realty’s HBA agreement appears to use a sneaky and misleading tactic within their terms of agreement to create an agency relationship that equates to a scam on homeowners based on lawsuits filed in the last two weeks,” Thigpen wrote to Stein just days before Christmas, after other states began suing.

In the March 21 press release Stein stated, “We allege that MV Realty is preying on vulnerable people to trick them into unfair, long-term agreements. My office is taking them to court to put them out of business.”

Stein is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, restitution for consumers, and monetary penalties from MV Realty. Those who believe they’ve been scammed by the company should contact the North Carolina Attorney General’s office.

The company began operating in North Carolina in August 2020, and so far has signed Homeowner Benefit Program agreements with over 2,000 people in the state.

Across the country,  32,000 homeowners have entered into these types of agreements with MV Realty and many have claimed they were misled.

The press release states, “Through the program, MV Realty targets homeowners who are facing financial hardships and are in need of cash through online ads, robocalls, and texts. MV Realty claims it will pay a homeowner a small upfront cash payment with ‘no strings attached,’ as long as the homeowner agrees to use MV Realty as their listing agent if they sell their home. But MV Realty doesn’t tell homeowners that if they accept this deal, they are locked into exclusive 40-year agreements that even survive their deaths.”

In addition, according to Stein, MV Realty rushes signees into the agreements and the company then places a lien on the property to ensure it can enforce its agreement – even though it claims in its advertising that it doesn’t place liens.

“These liens make it difficult or impossible for homeowners to sell their homes or tap into its equity,” the release states. “And if a homeowner wants to be released from the oppressive agreement, MV Realty charges them a penalty that is at least 10 times the upfront payment they received.  MV Realty has even filed lawsuits against homeowners to prevent them from selling their homes and to collect its penalty.”

The realty company also misrepresents the level of service its real estate agents provide, according to the attorney general.  Sometimes the agents even fail to do basic things like put up a “For Sale” sign.