Judge says MERS doesn’t have right to transfer mortgages

You may have heard about this, but if not, it levels the playing field for some homeowners who are under water in their battle to stay in their homes. The company that tracks around half of all American home loans has no right to transfer mortgages, according to a ruling  last week (2-10-11) by Judge Robert Grossman of the U.S. bankruptcy court in Central Islip, NY. Judge Grossman’s ruling means that Merscorp Inc, a private company known as MERS and owned by large banks and mortgage processors, cannot act as an agent of the banks that own mortgages. If his ruling isn’t overturned by a higher court, or superseded by a new law giving it authority passed by Congress and signed by the President, it could significantly affect the foreclosure process nationwide.

MERS was designed to speed up legal recordkeeping of mortgages and sales of mortgage loans through securitizations, but critics– including borrowers’ lawyers and advocacy groups– contend it has no right to pursue foreclosures because it does not own the mortgage loans. If Judge Grossman’s ruling is picked up by other courts in other districts, and MERS is regularly found not to have authority to foreclose, many foreclosure proceedings could be halted indefinitely, and affected homeowners could end up with clear title to their homes. Watch how hard the banks push to have this changed by Congress!

Update: The ABA Journal reports that the state of New York is drawing up plans to use court-appointed attorneys to represent homeowners in some 80,000  foreclosure cases there.

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