Legislate MERS Out of Existence

Abigail Field provides an in-depth analysis of MERS, what went wrong, what kind of problems it causes and how legislatures should act decisively to put an end to the damage and confusion the system has caused and recoup the costs associated with its existence (including the cost of sorting out and updating land records nationwide).

In replacing MERS, legislatures should consider modernizing and standardizing land records.  The mortgage industry’s frustration with the pre-MERS era is legitimate. But what is not legitimate was the industry’s unilateral decision to create a self-serving system that was indifferent to law and the public’s interest.

Think all that sounds over the top and extreme? Let’s recap what we know about MERS.

MERS is a company whose product is a massive electronic database called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. MERS Inc. has no employees, but some 20,000 “Certifying officers”. Certifying officers have included employees of mortgage servicers, law firms, and subcontractors. At least, people signing in MERS’s name have included such people. Whether any of them is really an officer of MERS with any authority is very doubtful. Doubtful because there’s solid evidence that Bill Hultman, who designated all these people as signing officers, lacked authority to do so.

Though there’s been a lot of criticism of MERS and some officials have started to dig into the ramifications of all of those MERS documents cluttering up their registries, we rarely see a full analysis of what MERS was trying to accomplish, why its processes are invalid and what kind of fallout we can expect from those shortcuts like the one Field provides here.