Audit reveals Central Texas homeowners could face foreclosure

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY

kvue.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 28 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- Homeowners in Travis County and Williamson County are discovering unsettling information about their mortgages.

County clerks are warning families that the ownership of tens of thousands of Central Texas home loans could be in question because of a company called Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. or MERS.

It's a private registry that officials say has failed to file proper documents with county clerk's officers all over Texas and the United States.

According to the MERS website, the company was created in the 1990s by 3,000 of the nation's largest lenders to "streamline the mortgage sale process by using e-commerce to replace paperwork."

The site goes on to say it "is not a legal system of record nor a replacement for the public land records. No interests are transferred on the system. They're only tracked."

The Travis County Clerk estimates nearly 400,000 properties in the county are tracked by MERS and that the county has not collected at least $4 million in fees from documents that were never recorded.

Williamson County Clerk Nancy Rister estimates more than 70,000 properties in the county are in the MERS system. Rister said she learned that her own home mortgage had been sold to a new lender last year, yet her office had no record of the transfer.

How to check your mortgage:

For Travis County go to: http://deed.co.travis.tx.us

For Williamson County go to: http://www.wilco.org/CountyDepartments/CountyClerk/tabid/230/language/en-US/Default.aspx

On the left of that Web page, click on "Search Official Public Records." List your name under "Grantor," and for document type, click "deed of trust."

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