SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY – San Bernardino County tax officials are warning homeowners of a nationwide property scam where homeowners are tricked into assigning a lien on their property in exchange for an upfront cash payment. The scam is called the “Homeowner Benefit Program.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General is taking former “Big Brother” season 15 contestant Amanda Zachman and owner of MV Realty, to court for administering the Homeowner Benefit Agreement. Zachman went by Zuckerman on the show.
The Florida-based real estate company, operating a nationwide network, offers homeowners up to $5,000 cash in return for the homeowner signing a Homeowner Benefit Agreement.
The agreement gives the company the exclusive right to serve as the listing agent who will receive a 3% commission when the homeowner decides to sell their home. When the agreement is signed, the company files a memorandum lien with the county recorder’s office.
Unbeknownst to the homeowner – a 40-year agreement is attached to the property.
If a homeowner dies or gifts the property to another, the heir or new owner is obligated to the terms of the contract. If the homeowner wishes to cancel the agreement or avoid listing their property with the real estate company, they must pay an early termination fee equal to 3% of their home’s value.
Unfortunately, this arrangement is legal.
“As with any legal document, you should always read the fine print and I would encourage you to ask questions and seek appropriate legal advice,” said San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk Chris Wilhite. “Unfortunately, once a document has been signed, it can become legally binding.”
Wilhite and San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector Ensen Mason encourage residents to be careful when approached by companies offering real estate services and benefits that sound too good to be true.
“A couple thousand dollars may seem like a lot of money to someone in financial need, but what they don’t realize is that the median listing price of homes in San Bernardino County was nearly a half-million dollars in November 2022,” said Mason. “At that price, the 3% fee obligation to the company would be $15,000! With up to 40 years of future home price appreciation, that fee could easily grow to six figures.”
MV Realty maintains their innocence.
“MV Realty has helped more than 30,000 satisfied clients nationwide through our Homeowner Benefit Agreement (HBA) by providing our clients up to $5,000 that can be used to pay their mortgage, utility bills or improve their financial standing,” reads a statement from the company. “In return, we only ask to be their realtor if they sell their home during the term of our agreement.”
MV Realty says new and innovative business models, like the HBA, can transform established industries and can sometimes draw questions from critics or outright hostility from those whose existing business model is threatened.
“To suggest that MV Realty has engaged in unfair or deceptive practices is simply false,” reads the statement.