Rep. Mary Kaptur (D-OH) has made good on her threat (highlighted in the November 22 Advocacy Update) to introduce a bill requiring HUD to study a federal land title system. HR 6460, the “Transparency and Security in Mortgage Registration Act of 2010” specifically directs HUD to analyze and report on five items: 1) how a lack of electronic records and uniform recording standards across the states impacts land titling; 2) progress states have made in developing electronic recording systems with uniform standards and their best practices; 3) the current federal oversight role in the local recording process; 4) the feasibility of creating a system to maintain records without preempting state real property law governing the transfer of real estate; and 5) the feasibility of creating a federal land title recordation system.
The bill also bans Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae from purchasing, securitizing, owning or dealing in with a mortgage that is registered with the MERS system. Generally, they would have 6 months to either sell loans that use MERS as mortgagee or nominee or record new assignments in local land records to remove MERS from the mortgage and list the current actual mortgagee.
Though there is no chance that the bill will move in lame duck session, and it is expected to be re-introduced in the 112th Congress and could be the focus of serious conversation. In the worst case scenario, the bill could pave the way to a national Torrens system, making the U.S. look even more like Europe. It’s up to ALTA and the industry to make the case to Congress why the own land titling system is, in fact, the best in the world.