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Mortgage Assignment

Manalapan, NJ |
Filed under: Real estate

In going through some old documents I ran into my old mortgage that was paid off through a refi and the very 1st page was an Assignment of mortgage from Wells Fargo but the area whom it's supposed to be assigned to is left blank and the doc was never recorded. Is this document valid? Also, the mortgage has been assigned 3 times since the original. What happens to those assignments, if anything?

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Attorney answers 3


It has been common in recent years for banks to sell or assign bundles of mortgage loans and sell them to other financial institutions. Unfortunately, many of those transactions were not properly completed. Some are missing signatures and some were never recorded. The newspapers are full of such stories.

What is the status of the refi? Were those documents recorded? Hypothetically, I would imagine if a borrower went to refinance a loan, the proceeds of that refi would have made their way to the owner of the debt; and the lender providing the refi should then record its first priority lien.

A thorough review of your mortgage and refinance documents are in order. Contact a real estate attorney quickly.

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The refi took place in 2003 with HSBC and when I paid that off with another refi (always to lower my interest rate) I did not receive a mortgage assignment with my paid docs that I received in the mail. It is after this refi that the mortgage was assigned 3 times and why I'm questioning the original assignment that was never recorded nor had a transfer named in the doc. Just want to know what happens to these other assignments if this original one had never been recorded? Thank you.


It depends. If the mortgage lender was a member of MERS, then the assignment may have been handled internally within MERS and not recorded in the county clerks's office (the purpose of MERS was, among other things, to reduce bank costs by not having to pay for the filing of multiple assignments).

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.

Adam Lefkowitz

Adam Lefkowitz


MERS was meant to simplify the process; but my understanding is recording of real estate documents is valid only upon recording in the clerk's office. I think it is the clerks office which serves to put the world on notice as to all issues affecting real estate. My understanding is while MERS assists real estate professionals; someone still has the obligation to record the documents in the clerk's office. From my reading of newspaper articles these past few years, I know many documents should have been recorded but were not. I think there was litigation as to whether a listing in MERS was sufficient to satisfy the recording requirement, and I believe the court found only a recording with the clerk's office satisfied that obligation. Unfortunately, I am out of the office and do not have the cite to the case with me. I suggest to the person originally asking this question to follow up with their attorney.

Michael T Millar

Michael T Millar


I have handled matters for MERS. Typically, the first document assigns the mortgage to MERS - which puts the world not notice that MERS is the assignee. Then, within the MERS world, lenders are free to transfer the mortgage as often as the like because the filed assignee - MERS - has not changed. Some have objected to this private recording system and it is the subject of many lawsuits.


I would take all of your paperwork to a local real estate attorney to get an accurate answer. It might be worth a consultation to make sure that you get a proper answer. Good luck!

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