Forum will give lawmakers a closer look at N.H. foreclosure picture

Lawmakers should take a careful look at the mess caused by loose laws governing mortgage transfers and foreclosures, says Kelley Monahan, Grafton County’s register of deeds. And Monahan is going to give them an opportunity to do just that in a forum scheduled for next week that will examine some of the issues raised in an article in the June 1-14 NHBR, “The homeowner strikes back.”The forum will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, at the Legislative Office Building in Concord.Clerks working at registries of deeds around the state have had a front-row view of what Monahan calls the “shell game” involving sloppy mortgage transfers caused by a change in laws that allowed such transfers to take place through the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems without having to take that trip down to the county courthouse.This is why, Monahan says, there have been so many shortcuts taken.In Grafton County alone, according to Monahan, some 1,300 mortgages between 2007 and 2009 went through two companies known as notorious “robo signers.”Because of the “chaos at MERS, it is next to impossible to find out who holds the note. Homeowners think they have worked out a deal with the lender, end up being foreclosed on because the note was sold to someone else,” Monahan says.New Hampshire is in better shape than most states because the counties have retained control of their records. Other states’ registries just sold them off to the highest bidder. The Granite State is also one of the few states that don’t have judicial foreclosures, so there are fewer court challenges of the process.That’s changing, however, as homeowners and their attorneys increasingly raise foreclosure-related issues through the legal system.Monahan says the forum will examine: • What the Attorney General’s Office is doing with New Hampshire’s share of a multibillion-dollar settlement with five major banks • Whether New Hampshire should strengthen the state’s Consumer Protection Act to allow the AG to go after the banks • Whether the state should require banks to go through the courts when foreclosing on someone’s home.The forum will also look at federal legislation that would allow the MERS — a privately held company that operates an electronic registry designed to track servicing rights and ownership of mortgage loans in the U.S. — to continue to handle mortgages on the secondary market, albeit with some reforms.”We will start it all over again, because MERS is like candy to those traders that don’t want to let go of mortgage-backed securities,” says Monahan.Aside from Monahan, the forum will be led by Michael Dillon, a consumer and foreclosure defense advocate at Stellionata Consulting LLC in Manchester, and three attorneys who specialize in foreclosure and bankruptcy law: Margaret Seymour of Littleton; Mary Stewart-Law of Concord and Krista Atwater of Rye. – BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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