Many of us who own homes have seen MERS appear on real estate documents. MERS stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. Whenever a mortgage is sold, Oregon law requires that the transfer is recorded in county records. As mortgages were sold and bundled into securities, banks came up with their own system to expedite and circumvent public recording. MERS was launched in 1997 as a registry for banks to record transfers of mortgages. This involved MERS being listed as the beneficiary or owner of record and making a lot of money that normally would be made for county recording fees.
Many lawsuits have been filed in recent years challenging this practice. A mortgage could have been sold five times, but the county recorders would have only one owner listed: MERS. Oregon law is a little different from many of the other states with failed lawsuits in that Oregon requires that the owner of the loan be listed on the records.
In 2012, Multnomah County filed a lawsuit against MERS and 16 associated banks. The lawsuit asked for damages, and corrections of past filings and proper filings in the future. Earlier this year, the lawsuit was settled with MERS agreeing to pay $9 million to Multnomah County. According to a blog on the Multnomah County website, it is estimated that MERS had cost counties around the nation more than $1 billion in recording fees.
Now, 11 Oregon counties are following suit (using the same attorney), seeking $50 million in unpaid recording fees. The counties are Clackamas, Coos, Crook, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Marion, Washington, and Yamhill.
This could be a lot of extra money for public agencies on lean budgets. A novel idea would be to place the funds collected in an affordable housing fund. I can't help but wonder how much Deschutes County lost during those years and why they are not participating in the lawsuit.
61381 Franke Ln., Bend, OR 97702
3 beds, 1 bath, 1,024 square feet, .26 acre lot
Built in 1977
Listed by The Broker Network of Central Oregon
19943 Cliffrose Dr., Bend, OR 97702
3 beds, 2 baths, 1,656 square feet, .15 acre lot
Built in 2001
Listed by Home Smart Central Realty
837 SW Theater Dr., Bend, OR 97702
3 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,840 square feet, .14 acre lot
Built in 2016
Listed by RE/MAX Key Properties