“The court is saying that anybody other than the note holder cannot foreclose, she says. And that applies, too, to so-called “servicers”–usually banks that collect mortgage payments on behalf of the note holders, and often handle foreclosures too.”
Foreclosures Called Into Question by MERS Ruling; Thousands of Cases Could Be Affected
The state Supreme Court yesterday called into question numerous foreclosures that have been done in this state, and opened the door for lawsuits by homeowners given the boot. Just how many foreclosures are we talking about? “Hundreds if not thousands,” says Melissa Huelsman, a lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs in the case.
The case concerns that nebulous entity, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, known more commonly as MERS. The Virginia-based company became the Big Brother of the mortgage world. It was everywhere, yet few people knew exactly who was behind it or how it operated.
What is known is that the company started as a way for lenders to get around costly and time-consuming local deed recording procedures. MERS, acting on behalf of lenders, instead registered deeds electronically instead through a centralized system. But MERS’ involvement didn’t stop there. Somehow, the company also came to be listed as the “beneficiary” of deeds in many states, including Washington. And when it came time to foreclose, MERS often initiated the action.
As the court opined yesterday, this hand-off to MERS “has caused great concern about possible errors in foreclosures, misrepresentation, and fraud. Under the MERS system, questions of authority and accountability arise, and determining who has authority to negotiate loan modifications and who is accountable for misrepresentation and fraud becomes extraordinarily difficult.”