Friday, December 03, 2010

Fees for thee, not for me

This is getting even more interesting.
The gigantic mortgage database owned by the nations largest banks may have run afoul of Massachusetts strict property recordation filing laws, according to the elected Recorder of Deeds for the South Essex district of the state.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC, John O’Brien explained why he sent a letter to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley requesting an investigation into Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc.

“It’s a basic issue of fairness. MERS says that if you are a member of their club, you can avoid fees on assignments of mortgages forever. Those are fees that everyone else pays,” O’Brien said. “I’ve never before heard of a private company that has attempted to unilaterally take over such a public function as property recordation. Imagine if someone tried to do this with drivers licenses.”
Well, they would do that with drivers licences. That is, they would if they needed a way to make it easier to slice and dice drivers licenses into securities and other "exotic financial instruments" and dump them on unsuspecting investors in pursuit of a quick buck with no regard for the consequences.
O’Brien, who was named “Public Official of the Year in 2000 by the National Association of County Recorders Election Officials and Clerks, is unimpressed by MERS’s official response to his request for an investigation.

“Massachusetts has very clear cut rules. Recordation is not optional. It’s mandatory. It cannot be avoided,” he said.

MERS argues that it is saving recordation offices and homebuyers money by reducing paperwork and fees. It says that homeowners would be “directly or indirectly” responsible for paying the assignment fees if not for MERS.

“Nonsense. There’s no way homebuyers would be responsible for the fees from assigning a mortgage 15 times,” O’Brien said.

He also indicated that his office would be glad to handle the work that MERS says it is doing on his behalf. One of the arguments that proponents like to use in favor of MERS is that local recordation offices are too primitive. But the Essex Country office in Salem has an online electronic property database available free of charge on its website.
So MERS thinks it should be exempt from property recordation fees because of the valuable service nobody asked it to provide.

But before you feel too bad for MERS, keep in mind that we have a GOP-controlled House in the next Congress and Democrats who are too afraid of their own shadows to stand up for the homeowners they pretend to represent.

(Say what you will about the GOP: Sure, they're money-grubbing whores who sell themselves to the highest corporate bidder. But they don't even pretend to give a shit about what is left of the middle class. None other than likely incoming House majority leader and celebrity tanner John Boehner called yesterday's vote for a permanent extension of tax cuts for couples making LESS THAN $250,000 per year (and individuals making less than $200,000 per year) "chicken crap." Yes, that's the same John Boehner who famously handed out checks from tobacco lobbyists to legislators on the House floor while the House was considering a bill to end tobacco subsidies. And yes, this is the same GOP that this week wrote a letter signaling its intent to shut down all activity in the current session of the Senate unless it gets the tax-cut extension for the wealthy that it wants.)

So there's a good chance that this problem that MERS has will simply be legislated away. Is isn't fair or just, but who gives a fuck about that? The bottom line is that there is no way Congress is going to let the rich suffer for the gain of the rest of us.

Speaking of who gives a fuck about fairness or justice as they relate to the housing industry, read this story about how judges in Florida are helping banks forclose on peoples' homes more efficiently (Spolier alert: It involves ignoring a massive amount of fraud perpetrated by the banks). And this postscript to that story.

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