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MERS Has Cleaned Up Its Act, Chief Says

SANTA ANA — Until the foreclosure crisis, most people had never heard of the Mortgage Electronic Registry Systems, or MERS.

Then MERS surfaced amid accusations that it was a key villain in the loan crisis. Critics maintained it operated an electronic smokescreen to shield lenders from the borrowers, while helping banks cut corners on foreclosures.

The registry, critics claimed, wrongly foreclosed on lenders’ behalf and operated a system riddled with inaccuracies.

But the head of MERS told an Orange County gathering Wednesday that his mortgage registry got a bad rap, adding that a number of changes have been implemented to address critics’ concerns.

“One of the criticisms MERS received is we hide ownership (of loans),” said Bill Beckmann, president and CEO of MERSCORP Holdings Inc., MERS’ operator. “An important change we made over a year ago was to make sure it’s clear who owns the loan.”

...During the mortgage crisis, MERS began foreclosing on thousands of homes throughout the nation to reduce the time and cost for lenders to seize homes from delinquent borrowers. The action prompted scores of lawsuits, but courts upheld MERS’ authority to act in most of those cases.

Still, Beckman conceded that MERS may have goofed in taking on that responsibility.

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