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A bank owned sign is seen in front of a foreclosed home on December 7, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Foreclosure sales made up 39.7 percent of home sales in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, up from 34.02 percent the previous quarter, according to a recent report.
Can your bank take your home? Yes, if they own it, but increasingly that ownership is being challenged in court as evidence of “robo-signings” and other careless documentation problems come to the fore. Recently a New York state judge, law professor and consumer attorneys testified before a Congressional panel that, in many cases, banks in fact have no legal standing to foreclose on borrowers due to a complicated electronic system known as MERS, which a majority of lenders use to document mortgage assignments. The confusion lies in the fact that MERS allows 20,000 people who work for lenders, not MERS, to sign mortgage paperwork in MERS’ name, obfuscating who actually owns the mortgage and with whom a homeowner can negotiate. Critics argue the judiciary system has actually exacerbated the current foreclosure crisis by too often accepting submissions without question from foreclosure-seeking lending institutions. Is this the first step in a massive overhaul of the MERS system and how can you trace your mortgage?
Katherine Porter, visiting professor of bankruptcy, consumer finance & secured credit at the Harvard Law School
Daniel Edstrom, head of the securitization auditing firm DTC-Systems