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Utah’s “Quiet Title Law” Bypasses MERS, Awards Homes Free and Clear; One Homeowner Had $417,000 Debt Erased

Utah’s “Quiet Title Law” Bypasses MERS, Awards Homes Free and Clear; One Homeowner Had $417,000 Debt Erased


Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Monday, January 17, 2011 1:33 AM

The Salt Lake Tribune has an interesting article on Utah’s “Quiet Title Laws”, MERS, clouded titles, and record keeping. Several people won titles free and clear to their houses or condos when debts as great as $417,000 were dismissed in court. Here are a few snips.

A Utah court case in which the owner of a Draper townhouse got clear title to the property, even though he still owed $132,000 on it, raises new legal and financial questions about a property-records database created by mortgage bankers.

The award of a title free of liens means that whoever owns the promissory note on the Draper property — likely a group of faraway investors — no longer has the right to foreclose to collect on a delinquent loan. Indeed, the townhouse owner has sold the property and kept the money. Those who own the promissory note probably don’t even know what occurred.

Last year, the owner of the Draper property contacted attorney Walter T. Keane to help him deal with lenders, though Keane won’t say what the problem was and the owner declined an interview request.

The lawsuit over the title to the townhouse named Garbett Mortgage and Citibank FSB as the holders of promissory notes as recorded on trust deeds filed with the recorder’s office. Integrated Title Services was listed as trustee of the Garbett Mortgage trust deed, while First American Title was the trustee of the CitiBank trust deed.

But there also was another entity listed on the trust deeds called the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). The Mortgage Bankers Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents major mortgage lenders, created MERS in the mid-1990s.

Under the state’s quiet title laws, Keane said he did not have to name MERS or serve it legal papers in the lawsuit because it was not the legal owner of title to the property. Those were title companies. In addition, attorneys contend, MERS cannot be the “beneficiary” or holder of the promissory note because it readily has admitted it has no financial interest in any notes or mortgages.

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