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Lawmaker Questions Power to Foreclose “MERS”

Lawmaker Questions Power to Foreclose “MERS”

  • NOVEMBER 1, 2010, 7:53 P.M. ET

Lawmaker Questions Power to Foreclose


A Virginia lawmaker asked the state’s attorney general to launch an investigation of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, the middleman firm in millions of court filings that helps keep the mortgage-securitization machine moving.

Robert G. Marshall, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, requested that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli determine whether the Reston, Va., company violates state law because it doesn’t pay a fee every time a loan changes hands. Opinions differ as to whether MERS must pay local fees every time it sells an interest in a loan.

“There are too many people getting foreclosed on not properly,” said Mr. Marshall, who represents two counties near Washington, adding that he is drafting a Virginia law that would require lenders to pay county fees before being allowed to proceed with foreclosures. “The disdain with which the conditions of law have been treated by those who want to make money too fast is very troubling to me.”

Brian J. Gottstein, a spokesman for Mr. Cuccinelli, said the attorney general is required to produce an opinion on the matter but declined to comment “on any particular industry participant right now.”

R.K. Arnold, MERS’s chief executive, said the company’s activities are legal in all 50 states and have held up under previous scrutiny.

The challenge is the latest sign lawmakers and lawyers for borrowers are taking aim at MERS as the foreclosure mess drags on. Created 13 years ago by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and several large U.S. banks as an electronic registry of land records, the company’s name is listed as the agent for mortgage lenders on documents for 65 million home loans. But that same streamlining has made MERS a target of critics who say the company might not have the legal right that it claims to foreclose on borrowers.

In a state-court lawsuit filed in Georgia last week seeking class-action status, lawyer David Ates says MERS isn’t a secured creditor, meaning it lacks the power to foreclose on behalf of lenders, mortgage servicers or other parties.

Mr. Ates said he is seeking to have all Georgia foreclosures by the company “be declared invalid and the title be returned to the debtor.”

Mr. Arnold said the company’s role in foreclosing on a mortgage is unquestionable because every time a loan is registered with MERS, the borrower must sign a document saying the company assumes all rights and responsibilities on behalf of the creditor or lender.

“The legal concept is as sound as any concept in America: You made a loan to a homeowner,” Mr. Arnold said in an interview. “They granted you a mortgage, and that’s recorded in the land records, and the company that has the mortgage and can foreclose is MERS.”

Mr. Arnold added: “We can foreclose in all 50 states, and we will continue to do that.”

Tom Kelly, a spokesman for J.P. Morgan Chase, said last month that the New York bank hasn’t used the MERS record-keeping system since at least 2008 to foreclose in the bank’s name because “some local courts wouldn’t accept MERS.” J.P. Morgan still uses MERS for mortgages originated by other banks or brokers.

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.

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MERS Response to D.C. Attorney General’s Nickles Statement

MERS Response to D.C. Attorney General’s Nickles Statement

MERS Response to D.C. Attorney General’s Oct. 28, 2010 Statement of Enforcement

RESTON, Va., Oct. 28, 2010—In response to the Statement of Enforcement by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, we agree that no homeowners should be subjected to deceptive practices during the foreclosure process. To ensure that homeowners readily have necessary information available to them, the MERS® System provides free access to any member of the general public to identify the current servicer and the note owner, if the note-owner has agreed to be disclosed, on their loan. Ninety-seven percent of MERS members agree to be disclosed. The MERS® System is the only comprehensive publicly available source of servicing and ownership of more than 64 million mortgage loans.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) holds the security interest in the deed of trust when MERS is identified as the beneficiary of record, as nominee for the lender and the lender’s successors and assigns. At closing, the lender and borrower name MERS as the beneficiary. The deed of trust is recorded with the Recorder of Deeds in compliance with the District of Columbia’s laws. MERS executes an assignment if the security interest is transferred from MERS to another entity and the assignment is recorded. For example, if the mortgage loan goes into default, and MERS is not the foreclosing entity, then MERS will execute an assignment showing the transfer of the security interest from MERS to the note-holder who will be foreclosing. The assignment is recorded as required under DC’s laws.

When MERS forecloses, MERS is already recorded in the land records as the security interest holder and requires under its membership rules to be in possession of the note in order to be the note-holder. Under either option, in compliance with DC’s laws, the notice of foreclosure sale represents to the homeowner the identity of the note-holder and that the note-holder’s security interest has been recorded.

Any MERS member who experiences a problem related to the recent Statement from the Attorney General for the District of Columbia is asked to immediately notify MERS. We will take steps to protect the lawful right to foreclose that the borrower contractually agreed to if the borrower defaults on their mortgage loan.


Source: MERS

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.

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D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles Names MERS In Statement On Foreclosures

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles Names MERS In Statement On Foreclosures

October 27, 2010

Attorney General Issues Statement on Foreclosures in DC

Attorney General Peter Nickles issued an enforcement statement today describing when the notices used to commence foreclosures in DC may mislead homeowners and violate the District’s consumer protection law. The statement clarifies that a foreclosure may not be commenced against a DC homeowner unless the security interest of the current noteholder is properly supported by public filings with the District’s Recorder of Deeds.

A noteholder’s security interest in a DC home should normally be reflected in the public land records maintained by the District’s Recorder of Deeds. Under District law, in contrast to the laws of many states, each deed or other document transferring a mortgage interest must be recorded with the Recorder of Deeds within 30 days of execution. This requirement is not satisfied by private tracking of mortgage interests through the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS).

The District has a non-judicial foreclosure process that begins with a Notice of Foreclosure on a form prescribed by the Recorder of Deeds. The form requires identification of a “Holder of the Note” and a “Security Instrument recorded in the land records of the District of Columbia.” According to today’s enforcement statement: “The homeowner who receives such a notice is entitled to presume that the recordation of the security interest complies with District law, and that each intermediate transfer of the security interest between the original maker of the note and the current holder of the note is documented in the public record.”

When a foreclosure sale notice misrepresents to a homeowner that the foreclosing noteholder has a recorded security interest, the homeowner may fail to seek legal help in determining whether there may be a good basis for challenging the foreclosure in court. Misrepresentations of material facts, when made to homeowners or other consumers, violate the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which is enforced by the attorney general.

The enforcement statement invites “homeowners or their advocates” to inform the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) if foreclosures “continue to be commenced or pursued with deceptive foreclosure sale notices” so that the Office may consider bringing enforcement actions to stop foreclosure proceedings and seek restitution for consumers.

A homeowner should not be misled into believing that a threatened foreclosure is supported by the District’s public records when it is not,” Nickles said.

Continued use of deceptive foreclosure sale notices may be reported to the attorney general’s consumer hotline at 202-442-9828.

Foreclosure Statement*

Source: Office of D.C. Attorney General

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.

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