Hoo boy we might have a little of that bugaboo Human Error here, as in, "Some employees might have improperly prepared the necessary documents."
Shock therapy for Wall Street: Banking giants suspend thousands of foreclosures
MERS is simply an electronic data base. On its website and in assorted court pleadings, it declares that it owns nothing. It was set up that way intentionally so that it would be "bankruptcy-remote," something required by the credit rating agencies in order to turn the mortgages passing through it into highly rated securities that could be sold to investors. MERS not only has no assets; it has no employees. The thousands of people enlisted to sign affidavits on its behalf are merely conduits. The arrangement satisfied the ratings agencies, but it has not satisfied the courts. Increasingly, judges are holding that if MERS owns nothing, it cannot foreclose, and it cannot convey title by assignment so that the trustee for the investors can foreclose. MERS breaks the chain of title so that no one has standing to foreclose. The homes are effectively owned free and clear.
That does not mean the homeowners don't owe money to someone. They do. But the claim for relief is not in "law" (by virtue of an enforceable contract or rule) but in "equity" (a remedy provided just because it is fair), and MERS is not the proper plaintiff. Every MERS case involves a securitization, which means the real parties in interest are a group of investors somewhere; and before the homeowners can be made to pay, the investors have to come forward and prove not only that they are the parties owed the money, but the actual sums they are owed. In some cases they might already have been paid; for example, by insurers on credit default swaps held by the investment pool. The investors are entitled to recover in equity only so much as they are actually out of pocket, not the full amount of the original promissory notes, since they were not parties to those notes and there is no way to re-establish the chain of title.
Or as Ellen Brown put it here:
That means hordes of victims of predatory lending could end up owning their homes free and clear—while the financial industry could end up skewered on its own sword.
Oh God. Please.