The Tale of a Lost Mortgage

The Tale of a Lost Mortgage
Anthony Suau / for TIME

In the six years after Douglas refinanced his home, the loan on it was bought and sold five times; seven financial institutions were involved. As his mortgage passed from one financial institution to another, the document that proved who the owner of the loan was would have, in theory, crisscrossed the country, with a stop in Tampa, two in New York, one in California and then one in Minneapolis (that is, assuming all the parties concerned followed proper protocol); the law says that in order for a sale of a piece of property to be complete, the loan documents behind it must change hands as well.

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