MBA Taking Back MISMO Operations from MERS

Mortgage & Real Estate

The Mortgage Bankers Association will resume running the day-to-day operations of its MISMO subsidiary on Dec. 1, taking the task back from Merscorp, which has been handling those duties since February 2009.

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The 20-member Residential Governance Committee was briefed on the MBA’s plans last week during MISMO’s trimester meeting in Denver.

When contacted by Mortgage Technology, Janis Smith, vice president of corporate communications of Merscorp, declined to go into the specifics of why the change is happening.

MISMO belongs to the MBA, “and it always has been theirs,” Smith said. “They were contracting us to just run it and I think that we’d have to let them speak for themselves in their own words as to why they might be ready to do it themselves.”

MISMO, officially known as the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, is a volunteer group started in 1999 that develops data standards for the mortgage industry. During its first decade, MBA was in charge of running its day-to-day operations. In 2009, the MBA contracted with Merscorp of Reston, Va., to handle those tasks.

Others familiar with the situation characterized it as a joint decision made possible by MBA’s improved financial position. “MERS stepped in to help the MBA and help MISMO when the MBA was struggling financially, and it was never supposed to be a permanent thing,” a source said.

“MBA is back on solid footing and is taking MISMO back in house,” the source added. “That’s a step that could be beneficial to MISMO and MBA both in terms of adoption of MISMO standards.”

But frustration abounds with at least some members in MISMO’s volunteer corps—which includes technologists and executives from the industry’s leading mortgage technology, lending and servicing institutions—over how MERS has managed its task of supporting MISMO’s activities.

There were lots of different little things, one longtime volunteer said. “It kind of felt like the governance committee did all the work and prodded MERS to get things done and get things out in front of governance, the way a proper association support function should be done,” the source said.

Preliminary discussions on the move began more than a year ago, but intensified amid MERS’ regulatory scrutiny tied to the national robosigning scandal and its electronic registry regarding servicing chores and foreclosures.

“Fair or unfair, MERS is getting a lot of negative press right now. There’s some perception that MISMO would feel more comfortable being back under the MBA umbrella as opposed to being tainted by the association with MERS,” a source said, who emphasized MERS’ publicity issues were a factor, but not a “big issue” in the decision.

Rick Hill, the MBA’s associate vice president of industry technology, will assume new responsibilities related to MBA’s operation of MISMO. Other staffing issues pertaining to the move are still pending. The success of MISMO under this new model will be predicated on the resources the MBA commits to supporting the group and its data standard initiatives, the longtime volunteer said.

“If they skimp on resources and stretched too thin to provide the support MISMO needs, it will be a very negative experience,” the volunteer said. “If MBA does step up the plate and get the right resources in place it would be very good for both groups.”

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