11 Investigates UPDATE: Florida AG sues MV Realty for blindsiding homeowners with 40-year liens

PITTSBURGH — A real estate company at the center of a Channel 11 News investigation is facing action tonight from the Florida Attorney General.

11 investigates reported exclusively last week that MV Realty was blindsiding homeowners here in the Pittsburgh area with liens on their property.

A search of PA real estate records showed MV Realty put mortgage liens on at least 215 homes in Southwestern PA and more than 1200 across the state.

Late today, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed suit against the company, which is based in Palm Beach, alleging the company is using “abusive and deceptive practices.”

Moody’s office announced the lawsuit this afternoon saying, “Attorney General Moody today filed a complaint for injunctive and monetary relief against Florida-based MV Realty and its principals for deceptive, unfair and unconscionable business practices that result in homeowners signing away home equity for a paltry upfront payment.”

PA Homeowners Impacted

11 Investigates discovered that MV Reality has been contacting homeowners all over Southwestern PA and offering them quick money now, in exchange for an agreement to use them as their listing agent later, if they decide to sell their property.

“Free money, that’s how they put it. It was free money to you,” Keith, a Shaler homeowner who asked us not to use his last name, told Channel 11.

Many homeowners we talked with said MV Realty did not tell them the contract would last for 40-years or that the company would put a lien on their property to enforce it.

“I didn’t know there was a lien,” 74-year-old Verona Homeowner Georgette Snowden told us, “I would never had of agreed to that had I known it was a lien.”

The contract and mortgage liens create a 40-year obligation for the homeowner to pay MV Realty 1000′s of dollars. Even if they don’t use the company, the homeowner still must pay 3-percent of the home’s value, as appraised by MV Realty. The only way to avoid it is if the house is not sold for all those decades. It’s also important to note the obligation lives on, even after the homeowner dies. The home can’t be sold, even by heirs, unless the lien with MV Realty is satisfied.

“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,” Florida AG Moody said in a news release.

FL suit could help Pennsylvanians

11 Investigates checked with the Pennsylvania AGs office to see if they plan to take any action or join Florida’s suit. A spokesperson told us they could not comment at this time.

Still, the Florida suit could mean help for Pennsylvania homeowners.

“The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act authorizes our office to investigate and file actions for conduct by Florida companies that affects out-of-state residents,” Florida AG Deputy Communications Director Kylie Mason said.

The Florida action seeks to stop MV Realty from enforcing these contracts with homeowners and to stop future deceptive and unfair practices.

The news release also says the suit seeks to “return the money the defendants wrongfully took from homeowners and impose civil penalties for Defendants’ willful violations of the law.”

The Florida AGs office is encouraging out-of-state consumers affected by MV Realty to file complaints with their office so they can investigate further. Complaints can be filed with the Florida AG by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or online at MyFloridaLegal.com.

You can also file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Attorney General by contacting the AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection online or calling 717-787-9707 for more information.

11 Investigates contacted MV Realty for reaction to the Florida AG’s suit. The company provided this statement:

“Earlier today, the Florida Attorney General issued a press release stating she filed a complaint against MV Realty. Our attorney is reviewing the complaint. MV Realty has helped more than 30,000 satisfied clients across the country and in Florida through our Homeowner Benefit Program. Our company is proud to employ hundreds of locally licensed real estate agents, including many in Florida. MV Realty has always been committed to transparency in all of our business transactions, and we are confident that any inquiry will confirm that our team has operated in full compliance with the law.”

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