""HOPE NOW"":http://www.hopenow.com/ announced a major milestone Tuesday-the completion of 5 million mortgage loan modifications since the group began tracking modifications in 2007.
[IMAGE] HOPE NOW is a voluntary alliance of private sector servicers, investors, insurers, and nonprofit counselors.
""When HOPE NOW started reporting data at the end of 2007, loan modifications were barely measurable,"" said HOPE NOW executive director Faith Schwartz in a press release Tuesday. ""Homeowners either paid their mortgages or forfeited their homes.""
She continued, ""However, over the past four years the housing crisis has taught us to re-think helping distressed homeowners through an unprecedented level of collaboration, funding, manpower and expanded resources.""
According to HOPE NOW's third quarter data, the industry completed 4.97 million permanent modifications since 2007, and since then, the industry has brought the number past 5 million.
More than 4.11 million of these modifications were completed through private-sector programs, while 856,974 were completed through the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).
While Schwartz and members of the alliance noted the significant milestone in a conference call Tuesday after-[COLUMN_BREAK]
noon, their accomplishments were tempered by the fact that the housing market remains weak and millions of homeowners still struggle to pay their mortgages.
""We know that much more needs to be done,"" Schwartz said during the conference call.
Steve Bartlett, CEO of the ""Financial Services Roundtable,"":http://www.fsround.org/ echoed her sentiment, saying, ""We're not declaring victory today."" Still he called the milestone ""quite significant,"" especially considering fewer than 20 percent of all modified loans redefault.
Colleen Hernandez, president and CEO of the ""Homeownership Preservation Foundation"":http://www.995hope.org/ also spoke on the conference call. She called the 5 million mark a ""halfway point,"" adding that ""we cannot lose site of the current situation.""
According to HOPE NOW's third quarter data, loan modifications completed in the quarter totaled 256,000. About 162,000 of these were proprietary modifications, while 93,903 were completed through HAMP.
Eighty-two percent of all proprietary modifications left borrowers with reduced principal and interest payments.
Almost the same percentage Ã¢â‚¬" 81 percent Ã¢â‚¬" were fixed-rate modifications with initial fixed periods of five years or more.
Also, 66 percent of proprietary modifications included principal and interest payment reductions of at least 10 percent.
HOPE NOW reported some positive findings in the market in its third quarter report, including an 11 percent decline in delinquencies from the same quarter last year.
Foreclosure starts also declined over the year, falling 15 percent to 600,000 in the third quarter of this year.
Foreclosure sales saw an even greater decline , falling 36 percent from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011. Total foreclosure sales for the recent quarter were 200,000, according to HOPE NOW.