Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), the keeper of a major piece of the U.S. housing market’s infrastructure, has beaten back the latest court challenge to its national tracking system, even as criticism of the company keeps coming (Montgomery County v. MERSCORP, Inc., 2015 BL 247363, 3d Cir., No. 14-cv-04315, 8/3/15). In an Aug. 3 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a lower court ruling in favor of Nancy J. Becker, the recorder of deeds for Montgomery County, Pa., whose lawsuit claimed MERS illegally sidestepped millions of dollars in recording fees.
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MERS has faced an array of critics, including those who say its tracking system is cloaked in secrecy. MERS disagrees, and provides a web portal for homeowners seeking information.
A host of friend-of-the-court briefs filed in the Third Circuit blasted the company, including one filed in March by law school professors who said the MERS system “has introduced unprecedented opacity and incompleteness to the record of interests in real estate.”
One of those, Brooklyn Law School Professor David Reiss, Aug. 6 raised the question whether MERS, though not a servicer, might be the subject of increased oversight.
“The problems consumers faced during the foreclosure crisis were compounded by MERS,” Reiss told Bloomberg BNA. “Those issues have not been resolved by the MERS litigation, and it would be interesting to see if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will seek to regulate MERS as an important player in the servicing industry. It would also be interesting to see whether state regulators will pick the ball in this area by further regulating MERS to increase transparency and procedural fairness for homeowners,” he said.