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Embattled Virtual Mortgage Registry MERS Retains Top Lobbying Talent

Embattled Virtual Mortgage Registry MERS Retains Top Lobbying Talent


By Michael Beckel on January 5, 2011 12:00 AM

One company embroiled in the nation’s property foreclosure crisis is not unprepared for a fight.

In Washington, D.C., Merscorp Inc. has retained several well-heeled lobbyists and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying efforts since the start of the mortgage crisis and economic meltdown.

Merscorp Inc. is the parent company of Virginia-based Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), which serves as an electronic registry for 67 million U.S. mortgages — more than 60 percent of the country’s total.

MERS was created in the 1990s by the mortgage banking industry to save them significant sums of cash by capitalizing on the digital revolution. The firm’s motto is “process loans, not paperwork.”

The ease of this streamlining process has brought trouble and detractors, however, especially in the face of the $12 trillion real estate bubble’s burst, and the company’s role in helping banks foreclose on properties, as the Washington Post recently reported.

“Several state courts have rejected attempts by MERS to act on behalf of banks seeking to foreclose on delinquent mortgages,” the Post reported last week. “And Congress is weighing legislation that would bar home loan giant Fannie Mae from buying any mortgage listed in MERS, potentially a death knell for the registry.”


Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi recently
summed up the company’s status this way: “In short, the mortgage industry considers MERS owner enough to foreclose on you, but not owner enough to be sued, or reasoned with, or even to provide basic customer service.”

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in November, Merscorp Chief Executive Officer R.K. Arnold maintained his firm did not profit from foreclosures or decide when to foreclose upon a property.

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