Selling Guide

Published October 2, 2019

B8-7-01: Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), Inc. (03/06/2019)

MERS is an electronic system that assists in the tracking of loans, servicing rights, and security interests. To initiate the electronic tracking, the seller/servicer assigns a special MERS Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) to the loan and registers it in MERS.

This topic contains information about MERS, including:

Naming MERS as the Nominee for the Beneficiary in the Security Instrument

A seller/servicer that wants to register a newly originated loan (but not a co-op share loan) with MERS may prefer to designate MERS as the nominee for the beneficiary in the security instrument. Doing so, eliminates the need for a subsequent assignment of the security instrument should the seller/servicer sell (or transfer servicing of) the loan to another seller/servicer that is a member of MERS. In such cases, the applicable security instrument must be modified to:

  • show MERS as the nominee for the seller/servicer,

  • define and name the originating seller/servicer, and

  • obtain the borrower’s acknowledgment of MERS’ role in the mortgage transaction.

If the seller/servicer encounters a situation where Fannie Mae is the owner of record for a loan because the original assignment of the loan to Fannie Mae was recorded in the public records, the seller/servicer must correct the error before it completes the MERS registration by:

  • preparing an assignment of the loan from Fannie Mae to MERS,

  • sending the assignment to Fannie Mae for execution, and

  • recording the assignment in the public records.

Changes that must be made to create a standard MERS security instrument for each jurisdiction may be found in the Instructions document for each state-specific security instrument (see Security Instruments), with the exception of loans secured by property located in certain geographic areas, as described below.

The seller/servicer is responsible for the accurate and timely preparation and recordation of the security instrument and any MERS-related documents required to be used in specific geographic areas. Sellers/servicers must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that information pertaining to MERS is updated and accurate at all times.

Even when MERS is named as the nominee for the beneficiary in the security instrument, it has no beneficial interest in the mortgage. All actions that MERS takes with respect to a loan are based on the instructions initiated by the originating seller, Fannie Mae, or the servicer. The originating seller remains responsible for all of its Contractual Obligations and any liability that it or Fannie Mae incurs as a result of the MERS registration, any MERS transaction, or the failure of MERS to perform any obligation with respect to a MERS-registered loan. In addition, the seller/servicer is solely responsible for any failure to comply with the provisions of its MERS Member Agreement, Rules, and Procedures.

Requirements for the Use of MERS in Specified Geographic Areas

MERS Rider

In the states listed below, sellers/servicers must use the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. Rider (MERS Rider) (Form 3158) when a newly originated loan will be registered with MERS. Sellers/servicers must also follow the Instructions to the MERS Rider and the applicable security instruments to make changes to the standard security instruments for the following states:

  • Montana,

  • Oregon, and

  • Washington.

As the MERS Rider must be used in these specified states, post-closing assignments to MERS are prohibited.

MERS Assignment Form - Maine

In the state of Maine, sellers/servicers must use the MERS Mortgage Assignment (Form 3749) to assign loans to MERS at origination or post-closing, as applicable. Loans in which the Maine security instrument has been modified to name MERS as the original mortgagee of record, solely as nominee for the seller/servicer, are ineligible for delivery to Fannie Mae.

MERS Registration

If a seller/servicer registers a loan with MERS before delivering it to Fannie Mae, the seller/servicer must ensure that the MIN is registered in MERS and names itself as the investor. Additionally, the seller/servicer must include the MIN in the delivery data. After Fannie Mae purchases or securitizes the mortgage, Fannie Mae notifies MERS to update its records to reflect Fannie Mae’s ownership interest in the loan.

Note: For loans registered in MERS iRegistration where MERS is not named as the nominee for the beneficiary in the security instrument, the MERS MIN should not be reported on the loan schedules.

If a seller/servicer registers a mortgage with MERS after Fannie Mae has purchased or securitized the loan, the seller/servicer must name Fannie Mae as the investor during registration and notify MERS of Fannie Mae’s ownership interest in the loan.

Use of the MIN

For each MERS-registered loan delivered to a document custodian, the seller/servicer must indicate the MIN on the security instrument and related documents. Because the status of a MERS-registered mortgage can change, the seller/servicer is not required to include the MIN on the note. Additionally, the seller/servicer is still responsible for making sure that the document custodian has sufficient information to determine whether a loan that is included in a subsequent transfer of servicing is registered with MERS at the time of the transfer. The seller/servicer must have adequate controls in its processes to enable it to readily identify MERS-registered mortgages.

The seller/servicer can choose from the following options:

  • place the MIN on the note when the loan is registered with MERS and, if the MERS registration is subsequently terminated for any reason, notify the document custodian to delete the MIN from the note;

  • wait to advise the custodian of the status of the MERS registration for a loan until a change in status actually occurs; or

  • notify the custodian about the status of the MERS registration for a loan at the time of a servicing transfer by providing the custodian with a listing of all MERS-registered loans that are included in the transfer and a certification that any and all other loans included in the transfer are not currently registered with MERS. (The listing may be prepared by the seller/servicer or, with the seller/servicer’s authorization, by MERS.) If there are more MERS-registered loans included in the transfer than there are unregistered loans, the listing may instead identify the unregistered loans—and, in that case, the certification should state that any and all other loans included in the transfer are currently registered with MERS.

Mortgage Assignment to MERS

If the originating seller/servicer is the beneficiary for a loan that it registers with MERS, they must prepare an assignment of the mortgage to MERS. Refer to the section above, entitled Requirements for the Use of MERS in Specified Geographic Areas, for additional information about, and restrictions on, assignments of loans to MERS.

By delivering a MERS-registered loan to Fannie Mae, the seller/servicer:

  • warrants that MERS is the mortgagee of record (either by being named as an assignee in a recorded assignment of the security instrument or as nominee for the beneficiary in the security instrument); and

  • warrants that the MIN is valid and properly registered in MERS naming the seller/servicer as the investor.

Sellers/servicers are not required to include a copy of the assignment of the loan to MERS in the delivery package they submit to the applicable document custodian. Also, sellers/servicers are not required to prepare and submit an unrecorded assignment of the loan from MERS to Fannie Mae (unless Fannie Mae specifies otherwise for a particular transaction or transactions).

Termination of MERS

If the seller/servicer decides to discontinue the use of MERS, they must request from MERS that the loan be “deactivated” in MERS. MERS will notify Fannie Mae about the deactivation of any loan in which it has an interest.

If the seller/servicer’s membership in MERS is terminated, the seller/servicer must promptly notify Fannie Mae’s MERS Program Office (see E-1-03, List of Contacts).

In the event that either its membership in MERS or the MERS registration for an active loan is terminated for any reason while Fannie Mae has an ownership interest in the loan, the seller/servicer must perform the functions outlined in the following table for each MERS-registered loan that it is servicing for Fannie Mae.

The seller/servicer must...
Prepare an assignment of the loan from MERS to itself.
Have the assignment executed.
Record the executed assignment in the public land records.
Prepare a recordable (but unrecorded) assignment of the loan from itself to Fannie Mae.
Submit the original of the recordable (but unrecorded) assignment to the applicable document custodian.
Provide the impacted Fannie Mae loan numbers to Fannie Mae’s MERS Program Office.

Related Announcements

The table below provides references to the Announcements that have been issued that are related to this topic.

Announcements Issue Date
Announcement SEL-2019-02 March 06, 2019
Announcement SEL-2018-03 April 03, 2018
Announcement SEL-2017-07 August 29, 2017
Announcement SEL-2014–03 April 15, 2014
Announcement SEL-2012–06 June 26, 2012
Announcement SEL-2011–04 May 24, 2011
Announcement 08-37 December 19, 2008