Get Ready for the Great MERS Whitewash Bill

John Carney, Senior Editor for takes a look at MERS and says he wouldn’t at all be surprised if Congress passes a bill to bail them out of their legal troubles.

If courts rule against MERS, the damage could be catastrophic. Here’s how the AP tallies up the potential damage:

Assuming each mortgage it tracks had been resold, and re-recorded, just once, MERS would have saved the industry $2.4 billion in recording costs, R.K. Arnold, the firm’s chief executive officer, testified in 2009. It’s not unusual for a mortgage to be resold a dozen times or more.

Perhaps even more devastatingly, some critics say that sloppiness at MERS—which has just 40 full-time employees—may have botched chain of title for many mortgages. They say that MERS lacks standing to bring foreclosure actions, and the botched chain of title may cast doubts on whether anyone has clear enough ownership of some mortgages to foreclose on a defaulting borrower. The problems with MERS system led JPMorgan Chase [JPM  39.61   -0.41  (-1.02%)   ] CEO Jamie Dimon to stop using MERS for foreclosures in 2008.

Now it appears that Congress may attempt to prevent any MERS meltdown from occurring. MERS is owned by all the biggest banks, and they certainly do not want it to be sunk by huge fines. Investors in mortgage-backed securities also do not want to see the value of their bonds sink because of doubts about the ownership of the underlying mortgages.