Oregon amendment to resolve MERS issues dies in committee
An Oregon House Judiciary Committee delivered another blow to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, by refusing to pass an amendment to a bill that would have given parties like MERS more room to maneuver around Oregon's mortgage assignment rules. The amendment, which was attached to an affordable housing bill, would have allowed MERS room to launch a nonjudicial foreclosure without the recording of all mortgage assignments as required by state law, said Oregon State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) when discussing the amendment with HousingWire. Angela Martin, executive director of Economic Fairness Oregon, said with Oregon being a nonjudicial foreclosure state, laws on foreclosure are specifically designed to provide extra safety measures for homeowners. "One of those is that all assignments must be recorded," she said. "And that is the problem with MERS. They cannot go back and record all of the foreclosures." Martin said the amendment would have changed the beneficiary requirements to include an agent of the nominee secured by the trust, while also eliminating the requirement that all assignments of a trustee must be recorded. "It gets rid of that requirement of chain of title," Martin claimed. The proposed amendment also would have made the rules retroactive, impacting Oregon recording laws, Martin said. But parties representing the financial services industry say the amendment is not that simple, and organizations like the Oregon Bankers Association were supporting it to get a guidepost on the books for others to follow. A general lack of consistency in how the cases are decided by courts has caused "cloud of title" issues that stretch to about 80% of Oregon home loans, said Linda Navarro, president and CEO of the Oregon Bankers Association. "Our concern was to find a way to have some amendments that could remove a cloud that is really over a lot of homes," she said. "The concern goes well beyond the financial services industry. There does need to be clarification." She said consumers also would benefit from legislative clarity. "We are going to have to put our heads together going forward and figure out what the right solution is going to be," Navarro said. Bringing Oregon's nonjudicial foreclosure process into question is not a good idea either. Oregon law provides a lot of protections to consumers when they go through a nonjudicial foreclosure process." Sen. Bonamici said the affordable housing bill passed out of committee, but the attached amendment relating to assignment issues failed to gain approval. Navarro believes title issues will have to be addressed by lawmakers at some point, but she does not expect additional measures during the remaining few weeks of the legislative session. Write to Kerri Panchuk.