Unrecorded Assignment Of Mortgage Form 202

GREEN, J . In this appeal, the plaintiffs, Joseph L. and Mary R. Sullivan (Sullivans), challenge the title of the defendant, Kondaur Capital Corporation (Kondaur), to the Sullivans' former residence, based on their contention that Kondaur did not hold a valid interest in the mortgage it foreclosed on the property in October, 2009. A judge of the Land Court allowed Kondaur's motion to dismiss the Sullivans' amended verified complaint, and thereafter denied (on grounds of futility) the Sullivans' motion to further amend their complaint. Though several of the Sullivans' challenges are without merit, we conclude that the complaint sufficiently stated a claim that Kondaur's title to the mortgage was defective at the time of the foreclosure, and reverse the judgment.

Background. We draw the following factual background from the allegations in the Sullivans' verified amended complaint. [Note 2] On or about August 16, 2004, the Sullivans acquired title to property located at 98 Wild Hunter Road in Dennis (property). The property is registered land, and upon registration of the deed conveying the property to them, certificate of title no. 174074 issued in their names, evidencing their title. On January 11, 2006, the Sullivans executed a mortgage, conveying the property to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), "solely as nominee for [WMC Mortgage Corp. (WMC)] and [WMC's] successors and assigns," to secure payment of a promissory note the Sullivans executed in favor of

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WMC. The mortgage thereafter was duly filed for registration with the Barnstable registry district of the Land Court. By instrument dated May 21, 2008 (first assignment), MERS purported to assign the mortgage to Saxon Mortgage Services, Inc. (Saxon). [Note 3] Thereafter, by instrument dated February 12, 2009 (second assignment), Saxon purported to assign the mortgage to Kondaur. Both assignments were duly filed for registration with the Barnstable registry district of the Land Court. [Note 4]

On October 15, 2009, acting in exercise of the statutory power of sale contained in the mortgage, Kondaur foreclosed on the property and thereafter executed, and filed for registration, a foreclosure deed purporting to convey the property to itself. [Note 5] Kondaur thereafter commenced a summary process action in the Orleans Division of the District Court Department; that action concluded with the entry of an agreement for judgment between the parties, in which the Sullivans agreed to surrender possession of the property to Kondaur but reserved their rights to challenge Kondaur's title to the property.

By complaint dated March 9, 2010, after commencement but before conclusion of Kondaur's summary process action, the Sullivans commenced an action in the Superior Court, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief based on their claim that Kondaur did not hold a valid interest in the mortgage at the time of the foreclosure, and that it accordingly was without valid legal authority to exercise the statutory power of sale contained in the mortgage. A judge of the Superior Court endorsed a memorandum of lis pendens, but thereafter transferred the matter to the Land Court, under G. L. c. 212, § 26A, because the complaint concerned claims of title to registered land over which the Land Court has exclusive jurisdiction. See G. L. c. 185, § 1(a 1/2 ); Feinzig v. Ficksman, 42 Mass. App. Ct. 113 , 115-117 (1997). As we observed above, a judge of the Land Court thereafter allowed Kondaur's motion to dismiss the complaint, and denied

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the Sullivans' motion to further amend the complaint. This appeal followed.

Discussion. The essence of the Sullivans' complaint is that Kondaur's title to the mortgage was defective because each of the two assignments of the mortgage was defective for various reasons, discussed in more detail below. Before considering the Sullivans' claims, however, we first address Kondaur's contention that the Sullivans are without standing to raise a question of defects in assignments to which they are not a party, as well as its contention that the Sullivans are precluded from raising any question concerning Kondaur's title to the property by virtue of the issuance of certificate of title no. 190346 in Kondaur's name on December 21, 2009, evidencing its title to the property. [Note 6]

1. Standing of a mortgagor to challenge the validity of a mortgage assignment. Observing that the Sullivans are neither parties to nor intended beneficiaries of the first assignment or the second assignment, Kondaur contends that they are without standing to challenge the validity of either instrument. It is of course true that a nonparty who does not benefit from a contract generally is without standing to enforce rights under it. See, e.g., Cumis Ins. Soc., Inc. v. BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., 455 Mass. 458 , 464 (2009). However, that is not the position the Sullivans occupy, since they are not seeking to enforce any rights under either assignment. Instead, by their complaint they seek to challenge Kondaur's claim of title to the property the Sullivans formerly owned, which derives from foreclosure of the mortgage Kondaur claims to have acquired by virtue of the first and second assignments. Kondaur held legal authority to conduct the foreclosure, under the statutory power of sale contained in the mortgage, only if it held a valid title to the mortgage at the time it gave the notice of foreclosure required under G. L. c. 244, § 14, and at the time it exercised the power of sale. See U.S. Bank Natl. Assn. v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637 , 647-648 (2011). If it did not hold a valid title to the mortgage at

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the relevant times, the foreclosure would be void, as would Kondaur's claim to have extinguished the Sullivans' equity of redemption. Id. Put another way, the legally cognizable interest the Sullivans seek to protect by their complaint is their ownership interest in the property, based on their claim that Kondaur's purported foreclosure was void by reason of its lack of legal authority to conduct it. [Note 7] We accordingly conclude that the Sullivans have standing to challenge the validity of the assignments by which Kondaur claims to have acquired the mortgage. [Note 8]

2. Registered land. There is likewise no merit to Kondaur's assertion that the Sullivans are precluded from challenging the validity of its title by virtue of the issuance of a transfer certificate of title in its name prior to the commencement of this action. [Note 9]

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See G. L. c. 185, § 54. [Note 10] To be sure, "the underlying purpose of title registration is to protect the transferee of a registered title." Wild v. Constantini, 415 Mass. 663 , 668 (1993), quoting from Kozdras v. Land/Vest Properties, Inc., 382 Mass. 34 , 44 (1980). However, the conclusiveness of a certificate of title is not entirely without exception. For example, G. L. c. 185, § 45, allows "any person deprived of land, or of any estate or interest therein," to challenge a judgment of registration obtained by fraud by complaint filed within one year after entry of the judgment, provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest during the intervening time. Similarly, G. L. c. 185, § 62, provides that, following the original judgment of registration, "any subsequent registration procured by the presentation of a forged deed or other instrument shall be null and void." In addition, the Supreme Judicial Court has recognized "two exceptions to the rule that holders of a certificate of title take 'free from all encumbrances except those noted on the certificate,' " applicable in circumstances where facts described on the certificate of title would prompt a reasonable purchaser to investigate further other certificates of title, documents, or plans in the registration system, or if the purchaser has actual knowledge of a prior unregistered interest. Doyle v. Commonwealth, 444 Mass. 686 , 693 (2005). See Jackson v. Knott, 418 Mass. 704 , 711 (1994). More broadly, G. L. c. 185, § 114, authorizes any "registered owner or other person in interest" to bring a motion to correct a certificate of title upon various grounds, including "that any error or omission was made in entering a certificate or any memorandum thereon," provided that "nothing shall be done or ordered by the court which shall impair the title or other interest of a purchaser holding a certificate for value and in good faith." In Doyle v. Commonwealth, supra at 695, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the authority established under § 114 extended to cancellation of an erroneously issued certificate of title, where the error was apparent on the face of the certificate; because the error was apparent from documents referenced on the certificate and available in the

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registration system, the purchaser of the lot did not "enjoy the status of a purchaser holding its certificate in good faith."

In the present case, we are not confronted by an innocent third party who purchased the property for value. As discussed above, as the foreclosing mortgagee Kondaur was required to establish its title to the mortgage by reference to instruments of assignment transferring the mortgage to it following the Sullivans' conveyance of the mortgage to MERS in the first instance. Accordingly, it is fairly charged with knowledge of any deficiencies in the effectiveness of the assignment instruments on which its claim of title is based, and is subject to a challenge to its certificate of title based on a break in the chain of mortgage assignments. [Note 11]

3. Validity of the mortgage assignments. Having concluded that the Sullivans have legal standing to challenge the validity of the assignments, and that their challenges are not barred by Kondaur's certificate of title, we turn to the grounds on which they contend the assignments are deficient. [Note 12]

a. Validity of assignment by MERS as nominee. Observing

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that MERS held the mortgage solely as nominee for WMC and appears to have held no ownership interest in the debt secured by the mortgage, the Sullivans contend that any assignment by MERS to another entity is invalid unless supported by evidence of authorization of that assignment by the owner of the debt. The argument is without merit. [Note 13]

We begin by observing that until quite recently, a foreclosing mortgagee was not required to demonstrate ownership of the debt secured by the mortgage, principally because the note typically is not recorded. See Eaton v. Federal Natl. Mort. Assn., 462 Mass. 569 , 587-588 (2012). The rule announced in Eaton was given only prospective effect, to foreclosure sales for which the mandatory notice of sale was given after the date of that opinion (June 22, 2012). [Note 14] Accordingly, to the extent the Sullivans' challenge to Kondaur's legal status as "mortgagee" (with authority to foreclose the mortgage) rests on Kondaur's failure to demonstrate unity of legal and equitable interest in the loan by reference to the unrecorded mortgage note or any unrecorded assignments of the equitable interest in the mortgage itself, they are without benefit of the holding in Eaton to do so. [Note 15] Moreover, their argument would represent a significant expansion of the Eaton rule, insofar as they suggest that a

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"mortgagee" must hold both legal and equitable interest in the loan not only at the time of foreclosure but at the time of any previous transfers of the recorded mortgage interest.

In any event, as Eaton itself recognized, the legal interest in a mortgage permissibly may be separated from the beneficial or equitable interest in the debt it secures; in such instances the party holding the bare legal title to the mortgage holds it in trust for the party owning the debt. See id. at 576- 577. Accordingly, the Sullivans' challenge is without merit to the extent that it suggests that MERS's interest in the mortgage was inherently invalid because it was separated from ownership of the underlying debt. Moreover, even at the time of foreclosure it is not essential that the holder of a bare legal title to the mortgage physically possess the note; all that is required is that it be able to demonstrate either that it holds the underlying note or acts as an authorized agent for the note holder. [Note 16] Id. at 586. In short, although a foreclosing mortgagee must demonstrate an unbroken chain of assignments in order to foreclose a mortgage, see U.S. Bank Natl. Assn. v. Ibanez, supra at 651, and now must also demonstrate that it holds the note (or acts as authorized agent for the note holder) at the time it commences foreclosure, see Eaton, supra, nothing in Massachusetts law requires a foreclosing mortgagee to demonstrate that prior holders of the record legal interest in the mortgage also held the note at the time each assigned its interest in the mortgage to the next holder in the chain. It is accordingly of no moment that WMC may not have held any ownership interest in the note or mortgage at the time MERS assigned the mortgage to Saxon, because MERS at the time of the first assignment still held the record legal interest in the mortgage. [Note 17], [Note 18]

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b. Authority of the signatory to the second assignment. The Sullivans fare better (at least for purposes of surviving a motion to dismiss) with their contention that the second assignment is deficient because it does not demonstrate the authority of the individual who executed it on Saxon's behalf. The second assignment identifies Saxon as the assignor in its first paragraph, identifies Kondaur as the assignee in its third paragraph, and identifies the mortgage as the assigned interest in its fourth paragraph. The assignment is signed by an individual named Natalie Flowers, whose signature appears on a line beneath Saxon's corporate name. No designation of Flowers's office or other capacity appears next to her signature. The paragraph preceding the signature block reads as follows:

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for WMC Mortgage Corp. has caused these presents to be signed by its duly authorized officer and its corporate seal to be hereunto affixed, this 12 day of February, 2009."

Following the signature block, the assignment includes an acknowledgment by a Texas notary public, attesting that "on 2-12-2009 before me, Jimmie Hernandez, personally appeared Natalie Flowers personally known to me (or proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence) to be the person(s) whose name(s) is/are subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in his/her/their authorized capacity(ies), and that by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument the person(s), or the entity upon behalf of which the person(s) acted, executed the instrument."

Ordinarily, under Massachusetts law, an instrument transferring an interest in land held by a business corporation and executed by an individual officer will bind the corporation only if the officer is authorized or directed by the board of directors

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so to do. See G. L. c. 156D, § 8.41. Recordation of such an instrument in turn requires evidence of the authorizing vote and incumbency of the officer, typically in the form of a certificate by the secretary or clerk of the corporation. [Note 19] See generally Crocker's Notes on Common Forms, §§ 318-319 (10th ed. 2013). However, in the case of various instruments affecting a recorded mortgage (including, as pertinent to the present case, an assignment of the mortgage) the formal requirements are markedly more relaxed. Pursuant to G. L. c. 183, § 54B, such instruments shall bind the entity assigning or discharging the mortgage if "executed before a notary public, justice of the peace or other officer entitled by law to acknowledge instruments, whether executed within or without the commonwealth, by a person purporting to hold the position of president, vice president, treasurer, clerk, secretary, cashier, loan representative, principal, investment, mortgage or other officer, agent, asset manager, or other similar office or position, including assistant to any such office or position, of the entity holding such mortgage," without need of any vote affirming such authority or further evidence of their status as such an officer. [Note 20]

Even viewed against such relaxed requirements, however, the second assignment falls short. We reiterate that Saxon was the assignor under the second assignment. The only reference to the status of the individual signatory to the second assignment, Natalie Flowers, as an officer of any kind of any entity is in the paragraph immediately preceding the signature block, which recites that MERS "has caused these presents to be signed by

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its duly authorized officer." While we agree with the Land Court judge that the presence of MERS in that reference is likely a scrivener's error which need not itself invalidate the assignment, the absence of any other indication that Flowers is or was an officer of Saxon fails to satisfy even the very broad latitude afforded by § 54B. Put simply, nowhere on the face of the instrument is there any indication or evidence that Flowers was, or in any manner purported to be, an officer or other authorized agent of Saxon. [Note 21] Nor can the notarial acknowledgment supply the missing evidence; it merely recited that Flowers acknowledged that she executed the assignment "in [her] duly authorized capacity," without describing what that capacity might be, or with whom. Proof of Flowers's authority to assign the mortgage on Saxon's behalf (to the extent she was authorized) accordingly requires more evidence than appears either on the face of the second assignment or in the record. Sadly, the second assignment is further illustration of the phenomenon observed in the concurrence to U.S. Bank Natl. Assn. v. Ibanez, supra at 655 (Cordy, J., concurring) ("what is surprising about these cases is . . . the utter carelessness with which the [foreclosing lenders] documented the titles to their assets"). We accordingly are constrained to reverse the judgment of dismissal, and remand the matter to the Land Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. [Note 22]

So ordered.

Real Property – Mortgage Satisfaction – Oklahoma

Assignments Generally: Lenders, or holders of mortgages or deeds of trust, often assign mortgages or deeds of trust to other lenders, or third parties.  When this is done the assignee (person who received the assignment) steps into the place of the original lender or assignor.  To effectuate an assignment, the general rules is that the assignment must be in proper written format and recorded to provide notice of the assignment.

Satisfactions Generally: Once a mortgage or deed of trust is paid, the holder of the mortgage is required to satisfy the mortgage or deed of trust of record to show that the mortgage or deed of trust is no longer a lien on the property. The general rule is that the satisfaction must be in proper written format and recorded to provide notice of the satisfaction.  If the lender fails to record a satisfaction within set time limits, the lender may be responsible for damages set by statute for failure to timely cancel the lien. Depending on your state, a satisfaction may be called a Satisfaction, Cancellation, or Reconveyance.  Some states still recognize marginal satisfaction but this is slowly being phased out.  A marginal satisfaction is where the holder of the mortgage physically goes to the recording office and enters a satisfaction on the face of the the recorded mortgage, which is attested by the clerk.

Oklahoma Law

Execution of Assignment or Satisfaction: An assignment or satisfaction must be signed by the mortgagee or his authorized agent.

Assignment: An assignment must be in writing and recorded.

Demand to Satisfy: If, after 50 days following the satisfaction of the mortgage, the mortgagee has not satisfied the mortgage of record, then the mortgagor may, in a writing, request that the mortgagee do so. If the mortgagee fails to do so within 10 days of the written request, the mortgagee shall then forfeit and pay to the mortgagor a penalty of one percent (1%) of the principal debt not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for each day the release is not recorded after the ten day period has expired and the penalty shall be recovered in a civil action in any court having jurisdiction thereof, but the request for the release shall be in writing and describe the mortgage and premises with reasonable certainty. Provided that, the total penalty shall not exceed one hundred percent (100%) of the total principal debt.

Recording Satisfaction: Any mortgage on real estate shall be released by the holder of any such mortgage within fifty (50) days of the payment of the debt secured by the mortgage and the holder of the mortgage shall file the release of the mortgage with the county clerk where the mortgage is recorded.

Penalty: See above text under Demand to Satisfy.

Acknowledgment: An assignment or satisfaction must contain a proper Oklahoma acknowledgment, or other acknowledgment approved by Statute.

Oklahoma Statutes

§46-15.  Holder must release – Penalty – Mortgagor defined.

A.  Any mortgage on real estate shall be released by the holder of any such mortgage within fifty (50) days of the payment of the debt secured by the mortgage and the holder of the mortgage shall file the release of the mortgage with the county clerk where the mortgage is recorded.  If, at the end of the fifty-day period, the holder has failed to release the mortgage, the mortgagor may at any time request in writing the holder of the mortgage to release the mortgage and the holder of the mortgage shall have ten (10) days from the date of the request to release such mortgage.  If the holder of the mortgage fails to release the mortgage by the end of such ten-day period, he shall then forfeit and pay to the mortgagor a penalty of one percent (1%) of the principal debt not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per day each day the release is not recorded after the ten-day period has expired and the penalty shall be recovered in a civil action in any court having jurisdiction thereof, but the request for the release shall be in writing and describe the mortgage and premises with reasonable certainty. Provided that, the total penalty shall not exceed one hundred percent (100%) of the total principal debt.
B.  For purposes of this section, “mortgagor” shall include any subsequent purchaser of the mortgaged real estate.

§46-16.  How released.

A mortgage on real property may be released by written instrument, duly signed and acknowledged and recorded in the office of the county clerk as register of deeds.

§46-14.  Release by attorney.

Any agent or attorney duly authorized to collect the debt secured thereby shall have power and authority to release a mortgage.

§46-13.  Assignments of existing mortgages – Recording within four months – Mortgages on record for six months.

All assignments of mortgages at present existing, bearing date prior to the taking effect of this act, shall within four (4) months next succeeding the taking effect of this act be recorded in the proper county of this state, in accordance with the provisions of Section 1, of this act, whether such assignments be acknowledged or not, and in case such assignments are not recorded within the time herein provided, the payment of any interest or principal on the debts secured by such mortgages to the mortgagees or the assignees whose assignments appear last of record after the expiration of the time herein provided, and before the recording of such assignments, shall be and constitute a complete defense to any action on such mortgage or note or other evidence of indebtedness secured thereby as against the mortgagor, his heirs, personal representatives, or assigns: Provided, however, that the last assignee of an unrecorded assignment shall have a right of action against the assignor to whom such interest or principal is paid; and provided further, that where the mortgagor, his heirs, personal representatives, or assigns have actual notice or knowledge of such assignment or transfer, then in such case such payment shall constitute no defense, and none of the provisions of this act shall apply.  Provided, this section applies only to mortgages which have been on record six (6) months or more.

§46-12.  Assignment – Unrecorded – Payment.

In cases where assignments of real estate mortgages are made after the passage of this act, if such assignments are not recorded, the mortgagor, his heirs, personal representatives, or assigns, may pay all matured interest or the principal debt secured thereby, prior to the recording of such assignment to the mortgagee, or if any assignment of such mortgage has been made that duly appears of record, then such payment may be made to the last assignee whose assignment is recorded in accordance with the provisions of this act, and such payment shall be effectual to extinguish the debt secured by such mortgage and all claims against such mortgagor, his heirs, personal representatives, and assigns, for or on account of such interest or such principal indebtedness; and no transfer of any note, bond or other evidence of indebtedness, by endorsement or otherwise, where such indebtedness is secured by mortgage on real estate within this state, shall prevent or operate to defeat the defense of payment of such interest or principal by the mortgagor, his heirs, personal representatives, or assigns, where such payment has been made to the mortgagee or to the assignee whose assignment appears last of record under the provisions of this act:  Provided, however, that in all such cases the assignee who may hold such unrecorded assignment shall have a right of action against his assignor to recover the amount of any such payment of interest or principal made to such assignor as upon an account for money had and received for the use of such assignee:  Provided, this section applies only to mortgages which have been on record six (6) months or more.

Related Oklahoma Legal Forms

Related Oklahoma Legal Forms

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