Action 9

‘Thankful that I had a voice’: Action 9 investigation sparks legislation on homeowner contracts

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Action 9 investigation that started two years ago has now led to legislation that is likely to become law.

The bill is meant to protect consumers from 40-year listing agreements that Florida’s attorney general said swindled homeowners.

“I’m very happy that legislators are thinking this is a wrongdoing to homeowners. So, I’m really excited about the outcome,” Carla Turman said.

Turman is happy to hear about Florida’s future law, but last October she was singing a different tune.

“It felt awful. It felt humiliating. I felt trapped. I felt like I had to use a service that I would not ordinarily use for selling my home,” Turman told Action 9 five months ago.

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She is one of over 35,000 homeowners that signed up for MV Realty’s Homeowner Benefit Program nationwide.

“She didn’t tell me, well, this what you signed for about your house. I didn’t see no contract. I didn’t see anything,” Julia Henry said from her home in Georgia.

Many consumers claim they didn’t understand what they were signing. Under the agreements that could be enforced by liens, MV Realty out of Delray Beach would pay homeowners a fee up front, giving MV the exclusive right to sell their home for the next 40 years.

A multi-state investigation by Action 9 and our Cox Media Group stations has led to attorneys general in a handful of states, including Florida, to file lawsuits against MV Realty. Ashley Moody’s lawsuit called the real-estate listing contract a “complex and deceptive scheme.”

“We think that legislators across the country should make clear that these types of unfair service agreements have no place in their state,” said Elizabeth Blosser with the American Land Title Association.

Her organization urged state lawmakers to pass legislation that would take aim at residential loan alternative agreements, like MV Realty’s.

Blosser continued, “Every time a legislature passes a law restricting or limiting these types of agreements, it’s a win for consumer protections and it’s a win for people’s property rights.”

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The Florida bill sponsored by state senator Jennifer Bradley, prevents the use of liens to enforce agreements, doesn’t allow contracts to be transferred, mandates that listing services begin within 90 days of signing contracts and keeps companies from recording the agreements with the county clerk’s office.

The bill was unanimously passed by both chambers. Governor DeSantis is expected to sign it into law and would be set to take effect July 1st.

“I’m thankful that I had a voice and was able to speak the voice to what was wrong and the outcome it seems like it will be an outcome that will benefit all homeowners and that they won’t become victims,” Turman said.

MV Realty sent us the following statement regarding the legislation:

“MV supports the adoption of legislation that provides comprehensive oversight and licensure of participants in the marketplace. Any legislation should clearly spell out prohibited practices and outline specific terms that are transparent and easy to read in the language of the individual involved in the agreement.

“The bill the American Land Title Association is advocating for would rob homeowners of a valuable asset - the right to be compensated for providing a licensed realtor the listing of their home. Put simply – this bill will take money out of homeowners pockets and protect giant title insurance companies from their own negligence.

“Instead we hope to work with lawmakers to adopt legislation that would allow for the effective oversight and prevention of abuses and consumer protection, while allowing homeowners the option to be compensated for providing a licensed realtor the listing of their home.”