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Michigan Supreme Court gives green light to MERS

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The Michigan Supreme Court reversed an earlier court of appeals ruling that found the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems did not hold the right to foreclose. Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. and three other judges wrote that the electronic mortgage database is a valid record holder in Residential Funding Corp. v. Saurman/Bank of New York v. Messner. "MERS owned a security lien on the properties, the continued existence of which was contingent upon the satisfaction of the indebtedness…(and) this interest in the indebtedness authorized MERS to foreclose by advertisement," said the justices in their opinion. "[T]he court of appeals’ conclusion to the contrary is inconsistent with established legal principles governing Michigan’s real property law, and specifically foreclosure by advertisement." A copy of the four-to-three decision is available by clicking here. It is not the only litigation MERS faces in the state. On Tuesday, two Michigan counties filed suit against MERS alleging the electronic registry avoided paying county recording fees when transferring property deeds in the past decade. Curtis Hertel Jr., the Ingham County Register of Deeds in the city of Lansing which is one of those two plaintiffs, responded that he felt the justice are acting on the part of special interests and not on behalf of the citizens. He calls the Supreme Court decision an "embarrassment." "MERS created a shadow registry system that makes it impossible for individual citizens and their government officials to track who owns a mortgage," he added. "At the Michigan Chambers request, they now have the right to masquerade as a bank and take a citizen’s home." Bill Beckmann, the CEO of parent-company Merscorp, said the ruling is one that will put the Michigan real estate industry "back to business as usual." "This will allow homeowners to resolve title issues and buyers to move forward with the purchase of foreclosed properties, which is good for neighborhood stability," said Beckmann, Merscorp’s president and CEO. "The Saurman ruling caused considerable confusion, delayed property transactions and triggered unnecessary litigation." Write to Jacob Gaffney. Follow him on Twitter @jacobgaffney.

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