Action 9 investigation sparks new NC real estate law

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the Unfair Real Estate Agreements Act into law Thursday.

“I think it will help do the job to protect North Carolina homeowners for years to come,” he said.

The law prohibits contracts between realtors and homeowners that are “binding for more than one year,” bind “future owners,” or “create a lien, encumbrance, or other real property security interest.”

This all began in 2022.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke started investigating Florida-based MV Realty’s Homeowner Benefit Agreement. The company agreed to give homeowners who signed the agreements up to $5,000. In exchange, it got exclusive rights to sell their homes for 40 years. If homeowners hired another realtor, they’d have to pay MV Realty a penalty — 3% of the value of their home. But some say they didn’t realize all of that.

Stoogenke teamed up with Channel 9′s sister stations in six other states to investigate these contracts. Since then, MV Realty has stopped offering them. Six states, including North Carolina, have sued the business, and 16 states have passed laws because of the company’s practices. North Carolina is the latest.

“Predatory businesses will not be allowed to trick North Carolina’s homeowners without consequences – not on my watch,” said Attorney General Josh Stein in a statement. “I’ll keep fighting these bad actors, and I’m grateful to the legislature for passing and Gov. Roy Cooper for signing legislation to put an end to these unfair real estate agreements.”


Stoogenke asked MV Realty for its side of the story. It deferred to the Future Listing Purchasers Association, which speaks for the industry:

“Today citizens of North Carolina were stripped of a fundamental right by the Governor and state legislature at the behest of special interests. With Governor Roy Cooper’s signature of House Bill 422, homeowners across the state will no longer be able to receive compensation for the right to list their home - a right that now must be given away for free.

“It’s regrettable that an alternative to traditional real estate relationships that directly benefits North Carolina homeowners is somehow being presented as abusive or deceptive.

“Notably, those that have pushed for action by the state have a large stake in stopping a new business model that threatens their bottom-line profits.

“Representatives of groups like the National Association of Realtors - a trade association currently being sued for antitrust violations and previously found to engage in willfully anti-competitive behavior as recently as a few months ago - as well as large corporations like Zillow and Anywhere Real Estate who own real estate brokers Century 21 Real Estate, Coldwell Banker, Corcoran Group, and Sotheby’s Realty, have all worked with the intention to attack and undermine the credibility of this business model and stop this new alternative to traditional real estate relationships, that directly benefits North Carolina homeowners.

“The reality is more than 2200 North Carolina homeowners participated in Homeowner Benefit Agreements (HBA); of that, only 14 complaints have been identified following the attorney general’s two-year investigation. Moreover, in the specifics of those complaints, it’s clear there was no proof of deception or abusive practices.

“Tragically, the Governor and state legislator have allowed special interests to manipulate the government of North Carolina to stem innovation and consumer choice for homeowners across the state.”

This applies to all real estate contracts in North Carolina from now on. If you get locked into one, you can sue for whatever amount you suffered. In addition, the Attorney General can sue for up to $5,000 for each violation.

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