Publish the Mortgages on Line

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Dan O’Neill (of Everyblock fame) is calling for publication of all mortgages that the government (read “we”) is going to buy in the bailout bill.

…. I’d like them to publish a list of all of the mortgages they purchase — the loan number, the address of the property, the lender, the amount of the loan, the status of the loan, the plaintiffs and defendants in any associated foreclosure cases, and so on.

As far as I can tell, it’s not currently possible for the public to determine the underlying assets of any of the mortgage security instruments that have been the subject of so much pop-culture sturm und drang. We all know that this is a big story, because the papers scream it and the numbers are enormous.

But we also know that it’s a big story because it is a local story. Foreclosures are plainly visible all of us, all over the country. We all know people — or are someone — affected directly by failing mortgages, decreasing home prices, and the accompanying social problems like crime, blight, homelessness, downward mobility, and despair.

Though it goes without saying, we assume Dan’s talking about publishing these lists with an API or in a downloadable format so that the information can be mashed by developers.

Do you hear us Congress? (I’m going to note this suggestion at PublicMarkup.org.)

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  • I’d have to agree with Dan O’Neill on this one. After all is said and done and the American taxpayer has ponied up $700 Billion, we own those mortgages. It’s our right to have a list of those properties we just purchased.

    Jason Kiesel
    Founder & CEO
    http://www.freedomspeaks.com

  • lrobb

    I am a title abstractor. Once you have either the name of the borrower or the address of the property, the rest of the information is readily available at your local county courthouse in whichever office records deeds and mortgages, at the Clerk of Court where you can find judgment information, at the Treasurer where you can find property tax status, and at the Asseessor where you can get the current estimated value of the property.

    Most county courthouses have their records on line these days. Even if they don’t, all of these are public records, and you have a perfect right to simply walk in and inspect them.