Mortgage servicers have been more successful modifying loans that are held on their own books than those that are owned by mortgage investors. Nearly half of investor loans were at least 60 days delinquent nine months after they were modified compared with about 30% of loans that are held in bank portfolios. Servicers said they have more flexibility to rework loan terms for mortgages they own than for those held by investors.
Modifications can result in higher monthly payments because, by the time loans are worked out, borrowers often are behind on their payments. Lenders frequently have been adding these past-due amounts, which can include principal, interest, taxes and insurance, driving monthly payments higher.
Servicers have stepped up their efforts to modify loans and reduce borrowers' payments in response to pressure to reduce foreclosures. The percentage of modifications that reduced loan payments by more than 10% increased to 37% in the fourth quarter from 26% in the third quarter. Still, roughly one in four borrowers saw their payments increase after their loan was modified.