The web site, Crooks and Liars, has picked up a rumor that the lame duck Congress is planning a huge gift for the mortgage industry. They will retroactively legalize the MERS system to prove ownership.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition of MERS -
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) is a privately held company that operates an electronic registry designed to track servicing rights and ownership of mortgage loans in the United States. MERS asserts to be the owner (or the owner’s nominee) of the security interest indicated by the mortgages transferred by lenders, investors and their loan servicers in the county land records. MERS maintains that its process eliminates the need to file assignments in the county land records which lowers costs for lenders and consumers by reducing county recording revenues from real estate transfers and provides a central source of information and tracking for mortgage loans. MERS’ role in facilitating mortgage trading was relatively uncontroversial in its early days a decade ago but continued fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis has put MERS at the center of several legal challenges disputing the company’s right to initiate foreclosures. Should these challenges succeed, the US banking industry could face a renewed need for capitalization.
The computer program simply transacts exchanges of property. The only problem is that does not the fulfill the requirements of the law in most states. In most states you must actually go through a process and have actual documents. So, some five years ago, MERS went into operation with scant, non-existent or simple illegality.The really neat part about MERS is that no matter how criminally stupid or unlikely or straight up illegal your change of ownership is, it looks just beautiful and all proper on the computer.
So, the Congress of the United States of America is going to retroactively validate a computer system that shifts property five years after the thing began moving property around like pixels in a video game.
Does fairness and obedience to the law figure in Congressional decision making?
I bet if millions of homeowners had their property taken away with scant legal proof Congress would leap into protect them. But that has already happened without Congress acting.
Okay, I bet if hundred of billions, trillions of dollars, were lost by banks playing the world markets using casino chips made of mortgage backed securities, that Congress would punish the malefactors. But no one has been punished unless the homeowners are considered.
I could write about five or six more “already happened’s” and you could probably think of a few more.
But basically it boils down the this. If the financial industry has legal problems, Congress tends to rush in with legislation retroactively fixing the problem.
If a member of the great middle class gets into legal trouble, Congress is unlikely to be unduly concerned.
A society that puts value on fairness and justice should find these matters disturbing.
From the article -
Now it appears that Congress may attempt to prevent any MERS meltdown from occurring. MERS is owned by all the biggest banks, and they certainly do not want it to be sunk by huge fines. Investors in mortgage-backed securities also do not want to see the value of their bonds sink because of doubts about the ownership of the underlying mortgages.So it looks like the stage may be set for Congress to pass a bill that would limit MERS exposure on the recording fee issue and perhaps retroactively legitimate mortgage transfers conducted through MERS private database.
If only, we were all treated as if were banks.