William & Mary Law Review


In the mid-1990s, mortgage bankers created Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) to escape the costs associated with recording mortgage transfers. To accomplish this, lenders permanently list MERS as the mortgagee of record instead of themselves to avoid the expense of recording any subsequent transfers. MERS’s claim that it is both an agent of the lender and the mortgagee, and the huge gaps left in the public record, give rise to a range of legal issues. This Article addresses whether security agreements naming MERS as a mortgagee meet traditional conveyance requirements and discusses the rights of counties to recover unpaid recording fees. The author explores the challenges facing judges, legislators, county recorders, and investors who must resolve these issues to rebuild confidence in real property recording systems.