State order shuts down 'dishonest' real-estate firm
The Arizona Department of Real Estate has issued a cease-and-desist order to Virtual Realty, a company previously accused by the state Attorney General's Office of misleading homeowners who were facing foreclosure in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
The order says nine of the company's employees who should be licensed as real-estate salespeople or brokers are not, and that the company is using "misrepresentations and dishonest dealings" to acquire clients' homes without their knowledge.
Those allegedly victimized by the company said they were led to believe they were getting new loans or that they were transferring ownership to the company only temporarily to avoid foreclosure, the order said. One pair of Tucson-area homeowners discovered their home had been sold only when people interested in buying began showing up.
Kenneth D. Perkins, Virtual Realty's owner and agent, said Tuesday through an employee that he would not comment on the order until he spoke with his lawyer.
The order was sent to Virtual Realty and many of its employees last Thursday, said Amy Bjelland, administrative actions director for the Department of Real Estate.
The company targeted people who spoke English as a second language or who had trouble understanding contract terms in English, the order says.
Virtual Realty agents contacted homeowners whose properties were in jeopardy of foreclosure or who responded to newspaper or mailer advertisements, the order says.
Two of the seven complainants named in the order were Tucson residents when they came in contact with Virtual Realty. One residence was on the Northwest Side, the other on the Southeast Side. The others lived in the Phoenix area.
Members of a Tucson family that dealt with Virtual Realty said they had no idea the firm had sold their home to a third party, according to the order. The family "grew suspicious when real-estate agents began showing their home to prospective buyers," the order says.
The state Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit against the company on June 2 on grounds of misleading homeowners into signing over their homes to avoid foreclosure. At the time, Perkins told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought the allegations were likely to be dismissed as "foundationless and without merit."
Virtual Realty has 30 days to appeal the order and request a hearing. Even with an appeal, the company cannot conduct business unless the order is dismissed during the hearing.
● Contact reporter Andrea Kelly at 307-0773 or