Title Land Edification Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to the questions we receive the most about our services. If we missed anything, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Title Land Edification offers clients protection from electronic and paper real estate title and recording fraud, including mortgage or promissory note fraud, by providing data breach solutions, complementary audits, and prospective homebuyer’s identity theft recovery.

We verify and detect real estate fraud via public land record investigation services, including mortgage loan originations and closings.

We issue mail and email alerts to inform subscribers of breaches in local government public land registration systems via timely data verification services.

We provide TLE e-NoteFraudAlert subscribers with a chronological history of public and private data affecting real estate recording instruments and documents via data comparison and authentication services.

More often than not, clients are unaware that land title insurance benefits the seller only. It does not protect the buyer against fraudulent claims on the home or land he or she plans to buy. Further, after taking possession of the property, all deeds are registered and publicly recorded in local government recorder and taxing offices where they can potentially be materially altered and registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry prior to the origination of a mortgage loan and without prior knowledge or consent from the prospective buyer. Such erroneous documents exist in the tens of millions and are often traded within the registry’s network of members.

We thus help our clients determine if and when a particular parcel identifier from a chain of title has been compromised during pre-mortgage loan origination as well as identify whether land title data filed in print or electronically contains deficiencies or has been breached.

In addition to these services, we collect data on local government policies, procedures, and practices related to the transfer of land and all other forms of real property from grantor to grantee by tracing and cataloging the number of (un)recorded electronic mortgages and related promissory notes registered in the National Mortgage Rights Registry. This allows us to provide accurate information regarding the chain of title by way of its members, from banking and real estate finance agents to government entities, from October 1, 2002 onward.

We are also building a nationwide investigative mapping tool database to trace and track the history of chains of title for tens of millions of promissory notes associated with mortgage loans originated and registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry as well as deeds publicly recorded in local government public land registration systems.

Available nationwide, our data can be utilized to determine the legitimacy of local government’s real property datasets, including the frequency of fraudulent deeds and false claims in connection with the sale, resale, and transfer of residential and commercial mortgage loans. This allows users to track the number of times electronic promissory notes registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry are traded between members as well as the number of resulting illegal deeds of foreclosures and evictions.

Protecting Your Property Rights

In order to protect clients’ real property rights, we . . .

  • Track the change of ownership of registered properties using eTitle Fraud Alerts

  • Identify breaks in the chain of title for mortgage loans, sales, transfers, and other registration documents in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry from October 1, 2002 onward

  • Monitor changes to registered parcel identifiers, such as tax map or parcel assessor identification numbers, that occur under local government authority

  • Detect illegal alteration of registered parcel identifiers associated with property that has been or will be pledged as collateral for a mortgage loan, whether pre-origination or post-closing

  • Document erroneous real estate tax bills and assessment notices associated with a property

  • Record pre-closing documentation, including registered parcel identifiers, permits, building logs, land titles, mortgages, liens, judgments, easements, plat books, maps, contracts, and agreements, to verify properties’ legal descriptions, ownership, and/or restrictions

  • Trace changes to a property’s first lien in both paper and digital registry systems

  • Plot the sale and transfer of mortgages and loan servicing rights involving electronic promissory notes registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry

  • Review the number of electronic promissory notes, including 18-digit mortgage identification numbers, registered and traded in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry

  • Track the number of members registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry

  • Submit up to 25 mortgage loans registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry for monitoring

Mortgage fraud is a material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied on by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan. This type of fraud is usually defined as loan origination fraud. Mortgage fraud also includes schemes targeting consumers, such as foreclosure rescue, short sale, and loan modification.

The idea to build a nationwide investigative mapping tool database to track and document the history of chains of title for tens of millions of electronic promissory notes connected to mortgage loans originated and registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry as well as those filed in the approximately 3,524 registration and recording jurisdictions for each county-level registrar of deeds, county clerk, or clerk of the court office nationwide began in 2008, when the US suffered its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

False claims and tax crimes associated with mortgage-backed securities securitization, coupled with the selling and trading of electronic promissory notes vested in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry, have severely damaged and continue to damage the integrity of public land records, causing an unthinkable and massive breach in chains of title before mortgage loan originations.

Prior to and since the founding of the Republic in 1776, real property rights have been a bedrock of America. For centuries, the American Dream of home ownership has been the aspiration of every citizen of these United States of America. In general, each county-level registrar of deeds, county clerk, or clerk of the court office has custody of and shall keep all books, records, maps, and court documents deposited in their offices as well as records stored in electronic format, whether the storage media for such electronic records are on premises or elsewhere. Further, each county-level local government recording office recognizes the importance of land title documents as a resource of genealogy and family history information related to land ownership. Hidden away in each county courthouse and throughout archives nationwide are traces of the aspirations and concerns of generations of Americans.

Before the enactment of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) in 1999, Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act) in 2000, electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry in 2002, and Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (URPERA) in 2007, paper recording was the standard for the keepers of land records. During this time, local and county recording officials did not have difficulty accurately recording paper real estate documents associated with local government public land registration. However, following the advent of electronic recording, the keepers of land records have had and continue to have trouble keeping pace with the significantly increased amounts of validation and cataloging required by datasets involving the original secured party’s interests. In spite of this, most registration and recording jurisdictions at the county level do not have policies or procedures for the prevention of paper or electronically filed real estate document or record fraud. Moreover, most local governments have failed to notify past, present, and future property owners when fraudulent deeds recorded against their property occur or when a change to a registered parcel identifier occurs. Consequently, it has become untenable for most local governments and current or prospective property owners to track a line of successive owners or a particular registered parcel identifier from October 1, 2002 onward.

The value of subscribing to Title Land Edification is the restoration of the sanctity and integrity of local government public land registration processes and the protection of clients’ property rights. We review mortgage-related documents, including local government agency records, before mortgage loan origination, before closing, and before recordation of paper and electronic real estate deeds and instruments.

Tens of millions of criminal and civil complaints have been filed by consumer borrowers describing identity theft and the altering, forgery, or purging of public land records in the possession of federal, state and local governments. This has resulted in a record high in the number of foreclosures, forcible evictions, and the displacement US families, resulting in the extraction of wealth and equity from hardworking and taxpaying American citizens.

In response, the US Department of Justice ordered the nation’s five largest third-party mortgage servicers (Ally Bank, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo), which included many members of the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry, to cease the filing of fraudulent paper and electronic real estate deeds and instruments in public land record systems. Subsequently, on February 9, 2012, it was announced that the five largest third-party mortgage servicers had agreed to a historic $25 billion agreement with the federal government and 49 states.

However, we contend there has been no enforcement of this agreement on the part of federal, state, or local governments. We further maintain the primary problem underlying these issues is the American public’s uncertainty regarding mortgage servicing rights, ownership, security interests, and releases associated with real property.

Our research analysis conducted to date suggests that there are significant risks and barriers with the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry as their members continue to file fraudulent mortgage-related documents in public land record systems without proper regulatory oversight from appropriate governing bodies. Indeed, since the early 2000s, tens of thousands of members registered in the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry have in essence acted as de facto recorders.

A deed of trust is a document which pledges real property to secure a loan, used instead of a mortgage in certain states. A deed of trust involves a third party called a trustee, usually a title insurance company or escrow company, who acts on behalf of the lender. When you sign a deed of trust, you in effect are giving a trustee title (ownership) of the property, but you hold the rights and privileges to use and live in or on the property. The trustee holds the original deed for the property until you repay the loan. When the loan is fully paid, the trustor requests the trustee to return the title by reconveyance. If the loan becomes delinquent the beneficiary can file a notice of default and, if the loan is not brought current, can demand that the trustee begin foreclosure on the property so that the beneficiary may either be paid or obtain title. Unlike a mortgage, a deed of trust also gives the trustee the right to foreclose on your property without taking you to court first.

Defective title refers to a title to real property which is invalid because a claimed prior holder of the title did not have title, or there is an inaccurate description of the property, or some other “cloud” over it, which may or may not be learned from reading the deed. To avoid a defective title problem, a purchaser will often research the chain of title.

Servicing Disclosure Statement is a disclosure wherein the lender indicates whether or not the servicing of the loan may be assigned, sold, or transferred to any other person at any time while the loan is outstanding. The disclosure is provided to the applicant by the processor or the loan originator/sales team of lender or the broker.

The lender or broker is required to send the disclosure is required as per Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) Regulation X 12 CFR 1024. Regulation X implements Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

The Servicing Disclosure Statement must be sent by the lender, table funding mortgage broker, or dealer that anticipates a first lien dealer loan. As a best practice, a lender must always deliver the disclosure to the consumer loan applicants as part of your 3-day disclosure packet.

The chain of title has considerable significance in real estate. In a real estate transaction, chain of title is researched on behalf of the consumer borrower, or buyer, by a title service firm, which summarizes all title conveyances, or transfers, and encumbrances in a title report. Title insurance is used by prospective buyers to protect against financial loss resulting from legal errors in the title report.

Numerous local government registration systems, such as the Torrens title system, have been established to track the ownership of a single lot of real property. In the US, the transfer of land issued by the title insurance service industry is based in the historical chain of title to the real property. Land title insurance firms thus sometimes maintain private title tracking of real estate titles, in addition to local government records. In other cases, the historical chain of title is created by an abstract of title, which is sometimes, although not always, certified by a licensed attorney.

Widespread lack of transparency in chain of title has resulted from a collective decision made by countless entities in the business industry in 1995: namely, the decision to use the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry system to enable the registering, buying, and selling of electronic mortgage notes without registration of changes of ownership with local governments.

To utilize electronic tracking, the third-party servicer of the mortgage loan assigns it a mortgage identification number (MIN) and then registers the loan with the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry electronic database. From there, the seller can originate the mortgage as well as initiate trading among database members designated nominees of the beneficiary. Finally, the seller assigns or records the assignment of the loan to the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry in county public land records, making the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry the mortgagee of record.

If the lender sells the promissory note, the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry will update its information regarding the mortgage and purports to notify the buyer. The third-party servicer of a mortgage loan can have it removed from the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry electronic database by sending a request to have it deactivated. The electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry will, in turn, notify the investor (e.g., Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae) of changes made to the promissory note. If the third-party mortgage servicer who controls the promissory note and the underlying collateral (i.e., deed of trust, or mortgage) wants to end their membership with the database entirely, they must notify the investor as soon as possible.

Cadastre: (1) a survey and valuation of real estate in a county or region compiled for tax purposes or (2) a public record, survey, or map of the value, extent, and ownership of land as a basis of taxation.

Legal cadastre: Parcel-based description of interests or rights in real property typically supported by titles or deeds and registry. 

Functions of a legal cadastre:

  • Define property rights, including those in conjunction with formal and case law

  • Describe the extent of property rights, both spatial and temporal

  • Support land conveyance (i.e., transfer)

  • Provide evidence of ownership (g., using land as collateral)

  • Administer programs (g., enforcement of laws, incentive targeting)

  • Overview public land management performed by local governments

A child parcel is created when the registered or “parent” parcel identifier is split, divided, or otherwise changed, resulting in an altered number of parcels.

The registered parcel describes how the parcel originally existed before any split, division, subdivision, or combination that created a change in parcel boundaries.

A plat map is generally drawn after a property has been described by some other means, such as a government survey system. Once a plat map is set, legal descriptions are defined in reference to the given map using the lot and block survey system.

A map of a town, section, or subdivision showing the location and boundaries of individual parcels of land subdivided into lots with streets, alleys, easements, and other relevant objects or structures generally drawn to scale.

transferor is one party to a transfer of property or services. The transferor transfers property to another party, known as the transferee, to complete a legal transaction.

A purchase-money mortgage is a note secured by a mortgage or deed of trust given by a buyer, as borrower, to a seller, as lender, as part of the purchase price of the real estate. It is a method of financing a home in which buyer borrows from the seller instead of, or in addition to, a bank. It is sometimes used when a buyer cannot qualify for a bank loan for the full amount. It may also be referred to as seller financing or owner financing.

There are generally two types of purchase money mortgages: (1) a mortgage given by the buyer of property to the seller to secure the balance of the purchase price (“seller take-back” loans) and secured by the property being sold (i.e., not by some other property); or, (2) A “third party” purchase money mortgage, given by lender to secure a loan which was used to pay all or part of the purchase price on the dwelling occupied totally, or in part, by purchaser. A purchase money mortgage involves the owner’s/borrowers’s risk of losing the property and the foreclosure’s impact on the owner’s credit.

Sometimes called real estate, real property refers to land and all articles permanently included within it (e.g., buildings, trees). If an individual owns a house, he or she has a title to it. When the individual sells the house, he or she sells not only the real property, but also the title as an intangible right of ownership. A real estate attorney or agent, in turn, is responsible for ensuring that a title is successfully transferred from one owner to another. Real estate attorneys and agents also frequently assist the buyer with purchasing an appropriate level of title insurance

In 1995, financial advisors and others in the mortgage lending industry created a private, members-only electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry clearinghouse, also known as MERS, that tracked ownership and servicing rights for residential mortgages. This electronic database system was designed to facilitate mortgage securitizations and circumvent traditional local government recordkeepers (e.g., county-level recorders, registrars of deeds, county clerks, clerks of the court). MERS principal place of business is located at 1818 Library St., Ste 300, Reston, VA 20190-6280. Over two-thirds of all newly originated residential electronic promissory notes linked to mortgage loans in the United States are registered in the unregulated MERS® System.

State laws often limit a recording office’s ability to refuse potentially fraudulent deeds and instruments. The primary role of a local government recording office is to ensure that deeds and instruments meet the statutory requirements for recording. If a deed or instrument satisfies the local government’s recording requirements, then the recording office is generally obligated to record it. The office does not and often cannot verify the information outlined in the deed or instrument due to state laws that limit its ability to refuse potentially fraudulent records.

The introduction of electronic recording to the public land recordkeeping performed by local governments, rise in the trading of electronic promissory notes linked to mortgage loans registered in the MERS® System, and increased popularity of mortgage-backed securities were all significant factors affecting the 2008 housing crisis, which sent the US and global economies into the largest housing collapse since the Great Depression. Since the housing crisis, however, local government recorder offices have failed to develop mechanisms or enact laws to prevent paper and electronic recording fraud.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., also referred to as the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry or, more simply, the Electronic Agent, is owned by the privately-held corporartion MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. (formerly known as MERSCORP, Inc.) as well as its Delaware-based parent company Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE). Operating from Reston, Virginia, the electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry records electronic promissory notes associated with mortgage loans in a MERS® System database.

MERSCORP Holdings operates as a subsidiary of ICE and is owned by Maroon Holding, LLC; ICE is the only publicly held corporation that individually owns 10% or more of Maroon Holding, LLC.

The electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry is a members-only private entity with more than 5,500 MERS® System members, and provides a network that links the most significant players in the mortgage industry. These include government-sponsored enterprises, such as the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), commonly known as Freddie Mac, as well as the Mortgage Bankers Association, various insurance and title companies.

MERS’s reported aim is to provide and maintain a registry of the transfer of mortgage servicing rights, ownership, security interests, and releases for use by those in the mortgage banking industry, including but not limited to mortgage originators, third-party mortgage servicers, warehouse lenders, wholesale lenders, retail lenders, document custodians, real estate attorneys and agents, title companies, insurers, investors, and county recorders. Further, since June 30, 2016, MERSCORP Holdings has been a member-based organization consisting of thousands of lenders, third-party mortgage servicers, subservicers, investors, and government agencies. All paper-based promissory notes have been replaced with the electronic equivalent, otherwise known as an eNote. Each eNote is electronically created, signed, secured, and then registered in the MERS® eRegistry, along with information on the original lender.

The series of conveyance paper deeds discovered via a review of local government public land records creates a “chain” that links landowners in concert through a series of residential and commercial real estate sale transactions (e.g., “Party A grants to Party B, Party B grants to Party C, Party C grants to Party D,” and so on).

A chain of title is the official public ownership record of a property or asset. Chain of ownership derives its name from its sequential nature: a chain of title traces historical title transfers from the present back to the original landowner. Given their critical importance in establishing ownership of a property or asset, rigorous and accurate title records are generally stored in local government registries or the electronic an electronic National Mortgage Rights Registry system. Moreover, a title to real property is evidence of a person’s right to, or interest in, that property: it is the means whereby the owner is enabled to assert or maintain his or her possession. The specific rights that the property owner holds are determined with reference to the manner in which his or her interest was acquired or the degree to which it was effectively transferred.

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