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Money Talks


U.S. homeowners are falling behind on their mortgages at increasing rates, and efforts to address the foreclosure crisis with loan modifications are falling short, according to an authoritative government report being released today.

The report identified what makes loan modifications more effective - lower monthly payments - a point that may inform future efforts to help struggling homeowners.

Mortgage problems are spreading beyond the troubled subprime category into Alt-A and prime mortgages made to borrowers with better credit, according to the report from the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Those two agencies, which oversee the nation's largest banks and thrifts, directed the institutions to provide data on the mortgages they own and service.

Loan modification is a process that allows homeowners and lenders to change the terms of a loan in order to help the borrower stop foreclosure. A loan modification is NOT a new loan. It is the renegotiation – or loan restructuring – of an existing mortgage note. For homeowners behind on their mortgage, or those with a low credit score, a loan modification is often the only option available because they are unable to get approved for a mortgage refinance or a short-refinance.

A loan modification can be done in several ways or combination of ways listed below:

the loan’s interest rate may be decreased the interest rate could be changed from an adjustable to a fixed rate the period of time the borrower has to pay the loan back can be lengthened the type of loan could be changed altogether.
Many borrowers are facing foreclosure because their interest only or variable rate loan interest terms have sky rocketed beyond what they could have imagined. A loan restructuring is an agreeable way for both the lender and the borrower to avoid the cost and hassle of the foreclosure process.

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