In foreclosure controversy, problems run deeper than flawed paperwork

From the Washington Post (free registration required) By Brady Dennis and Ariana Eunjung Cha

Millions of U.S. mortgages have been shuttled around the global financial system – sold and resold by firms – without the documents that traditionally prove who legally owns the loans.

Now, as many of these loans have fallen into default and banks have sought to seize homes, judges around the country have increasingly ruled that lenders had no right to foreclose, because they lacked clear title.

These fundamental concerns over ownership extend beyond those that surfaced over the past two weeks amid reports of fraudulent loan documents and corporate “robo-signers.”

The court decisions, should they continue to spread, could call into doubt the ownership of mortgages throughout the country, raising urgent challenges for both the real estate market and the wider financial system. …

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday he is looking into the allegations of improper foreclosures, and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd(D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate banking committee, said he plans to hold hearings on the issue.

At the core of the fights over the legal standing of banks in foreclosure cases is Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, based in Reston.

The company, known as MERS, was created more than a decade ago by the mortgage industry, including mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, GMAC, and the Mortgage Bankers Association. …

Please read the entire article as it nice job of explaining how the credit industry created MERS to take shortcuts and in the process, may have skirted around many different laws to save time and money.