Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Car-Crash of Mortgage Markets

This will be a helluvamess.

MERS is the firm that (technically) holds 60 million US (securitized) mortgages on behalf of the actual buyers. They were created by a consortium of lenders in part to save money (on paperwork and recording fees) every time a loan changes owners. In the era of securitization, these savings amounted to billions of dollars.

But MERS also acts as a shield, making it all but impossible for many borrowers to deal directly with whoever happens to be holding their mortgage at the moment. As the NYT noted, it has “made life maddeningly difficult for some troubled homeowners.”

Now, the Kansas Court of Appeals has called foul. In Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 2009 Kan. LEXIS 834, the Kansas Court held that a nominee company called MERS has no right or standing to bring an action for foreclosure.

Ritholtz makes clear that this is a KANSAS ruling, not a Federal Court ruling, and that there may well be remedies available to the lenders (whoever they may be...), but it won't be quickly resolved no matter.

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