MERS – The Quarterback

 

MERS has evolved into a totally different purpose today.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of MERSCORP Inc., located at 1595 Spring Hill Rd Ste 310 Vienna, VA 22182.

MERS was founded by the mortgage industry. MERS tracks “changes” in the ownership of the beneficial and servicing interests of mortgage loans as they are bought and sold among MERS members or others. Simultaneously, MERS acts as the “mortgagee” of record in a “nominee” capacity (a form of agency) for the beneficial owners of these loans.

To ensure widespread acceptance within the industry, MERS sought to have security instruments modified to contain MERS as the original mortgagee (MOM) language. MERS began to change decades of business practices after the two biggest mortgage funders in the U.S. the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Ferderal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) modified their Uniform Security Instruments to include MOM language. Their approval opened the doors to incorporate MERS into loans at origination.

Soon after, U.S. government agencies like the Veterans Administration, Federal Housing administration and Government National Mortgage Association (Ginne Mae), and several state housing agencies followed both Fannie/Freddie to approve MERS.

More than 60 percent of all newly-originated mortgages are registered in MERS. Its mission is to register every mortgage loan in the United States on the MERS System. Since 1997, more than 65 million home mortgages have been assigned a Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) and have been registered on the MERS System.

The mortgage-backed security (MBS) sector tested the viability of MERS because a substantial number of mortgages are securitized in the secondary market. In February 1999, Lehman Brothers was the first company to include MERS registered loans in a MBS.

Moody’s Investor Service issued an independent Structured Finance special report  on MERS and it’s impact of MBS transactions and found that where the securitzer used MERS, new assignments of mortgages to the trustee of MBS transactions were not necessary.

Since MERS is a privately owned data system and not public, all mortgages and assignments must be recorded in order to perfect a lien. Since they failed to record assignments when these loans often traded ownership several times before any assignment was created, the legal issue is apparent. MERS may have destroyed the public land records by breaking the chain of title to millions of homes.

IN MERS CEO’S OWN WORDS

In or around the summer of 1997, MERSCORP President and CEO R.K. Arnold wrote, “Yes, There is life on MERS” Mr. Arnold stated, “Some county recorders have expressed concerns that MERS will eliminate their offices nationwide or destroy the public land records by breaking the chain of title. As implemented, MERS will not create a break in the chain of title, and, because MERS is premised on an assignment recorded in the public land records, MERS cannot work without county recorders.”

In this same article Mr. Arnold also states “The sheer volume of transfers between servicing companies and the resulting need to record assignments caused a heavy drag on the secondary market. Loan servicing can trade several times before even the first assignment in a chain is recorded, leaving the public land records clogged with unnecessary assignments. Sometimes these assignments are recorded in the wrong sequence, clouding title to the property”. Mr. Arnold never mentions the fact that the mortgage notes have been securitized, thereby becoming “negotiable securities” under the Uniform Commercial Code.

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MERS, The Players