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Registers of Deeds as Unexpected Foot Soldiers Fighting Mortgage Abuses?

As regular readers no doubt know, the reason for creating the electronic mortgage registry service MERS was to save on recording fees when notes (the borrower IOUs) were transferred through multiple parties when mortgage securitizations were set up. As MERS legal status has come under questions, a few local registers of deeds (the officers in charge of local recording offices) have made estimates of the losses to their county and have come up with significant numbers. As more and more information about mortgage abuses have gotten media coverage, some registers of deeds have dug further into their records to document their extent. So far. only a couple of local officers are undertaking these assessments, on their own initiative. At the same time, their efforts provide persuasive evidence of the extent of abuses, and thus help support the critics’ case. If more recorders were to take interest and start digging in their files and come up with tallies of various types of misconduct, this could have a significant effect on the debate. A favorite tactic of the banks has been to treat problems as “mistakes” and therefore exceptional. If more local level compilations show that “mistakes” are common or even pervasive, it will reveal that these alleged errors were a cynical profit maximizing policy dressed up as incompetence. And it would again show the banks to be liars.

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