How to Find the Owner of Your Mortgage
To determine the ownership (rather than servicing), the best options that are:
2) Review the transfer of ownership notices that are required to be sent as of May 20, 2009 and thereafter under the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. This one won't help for loans bought and sold long ago, but at least Congress heard the message that tracking down ownership is a problem.
3) Send a "qualified written request" under the Real Estate Servicing Procedures Act (RESPA). While this statute primarily is aimed at servicers, John Rao points out that because the servicer acts as an agent for the owner of the mortgage, the request is related to the servicing. The servicer has 60 business days to comply, which may be too long for families facing foreclosure. Actual damages, costs and attorneys fees are available for violation. HUD provides a little information on how to make a qualified written request on its website.
It's important to note what is NOT on this list: the old-fashioned method of searching the land records. John includes that method in his list of six ways, but cautions not to rely solely on the registry of deeds because many assignments are not recorded. I think in a world of MERS, and missing paper, the land record system needs a hard look. The point of that system is to provide a public record of security interests in land, but it's clearly no longer serving that function in the way it historically has. In what ways is the land record system failing? How should we fix it? Do we need penalties for not recording assignments? Or federal regulation of MERS? Or something else entirely?