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These changes in the foreclosure environment have negatively affected our foreclosure timelines, credit-related expenses and single-family serious delinquency rates, and we expect they will continue to do so. We believe these changes also will delay the recovery of the housing market. These changes could also negatively affect the value of the private-label securities we hold and result in additional impairments on these securities. In addition, the failure of our servicers or their service providers to apply prudent and effective process controls and to comply with legal and other requirements in the foreclosure process poses operational, reputational and legal risks for us. The servicer foreclosure process deficiencies have generated significant concern and are currently being reviewed by various government agencies and the various state attorneys general, which could lead to additional new laws, regulation or rules that negatively affect our ability to foreclose expeditiously or increase our costs.
Challenges to the MERS® System could pose counterparty, operational, reputational and legal risks for us.
MERSCORP, Inc. is a privately held company that maintains an electronic registry (the “MERS System”) that tracks servicing rights and ownership of loans in the United States. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), a wholly owned subsidiary of MERSCORP, Inc. (“MERSCORP”), can serve as a nominee for the owner of a mortgage loan and, in that role, become the mortgagee of record for the loan in local land records. Fannie Mae seller/servicers may choose to use MERS as a nominee; however, we have prohibited servicers from initiating foreclosures on Fannie Mae loans in MERS’s name. Approximately half of the loans we own or guarantee are registered in MERS’s name and the related servicing rights are tracked in the MERS System. The MERS System is widely used by participants in the mortgage finance industry. Along with a number of other organizations in the mortgage finance industry, we are a shareholder of MERSCORP, Inc.
Several legal challenges have been made disputing MERS’s legal standing to initiate foreclosures and/or act as nominee in local land records. These challenges seek judicial relief ranging from money damages to the voiding of completed foreclosures in which MERS appeared in the chain of title. These challenges have focused public attention on MERS and on how loans are recorded in local land records. As a result, these challenges could negatively affect MERS’s ability to serve as the mortgagee of record in some jurisdictions. These challenges also could result in court decisions that void our completed foreclosures in certain jurisdictions, which would require that we re-foreclose on the affected properties, thereby increasing our costs and lengthening the time it takes for us to foreclose on and dispose of the properties.
In addition, where MERS is the mortgagee of record, it must execute assignments of mortgages, affidavits and other legal documents in connection with foreclosure proceedings. As a result, investigations by governmental authorities and others into the servicer foreclosure process deficiencies discussed above may impact MERS. On April 13, 2011, federal banking regulators and FHFA announced that they were taking enforcement action against MERS and MERSCORP to address significant weaknesses in, among other things, oversight, management supervision and corporate governance at MERS and MERSCORP that were uncovered as part of the regulators’ review of mortgage servicers’ foreclosure processing. Failures by MERS or MERSCORP to apply prudent and effective process controls and to comply with legal and other requirements could pose counterparty, operational, reputational and legal risks for us. If investigations or new regulation or legislation restricts servicers’ use of MERS, our counterparties may be required to record all mortgage transfers in land records, incurring additional costs and time in the recordation process. At this time, we cannot predict the ultimate outcome of these legal challenges to, or the enforcement action against, MERS and MERSCORP or the impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
A failure in our operational systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties, could materially adversely affect our business, impair our liquidity, cause financial losses and harm our reputation.
Shortcomings or failures in our internal processes, people or systems could have a material adverse effect on our risk management, liquidity, financial statement reliability, financial condition and results of operations; disrupt our business; and result in legislative or regulatory intervention, liability to customers, financial losses and damage to our reputation. For example, our business is highly dependent on our ability to manage and