In February, nearly 250,000 homeowners received either mortgage modifications or repayment plans from their lenders, according to Hope Now, the coalition of lenders, investors and community advocacy groups put together to combat the foreclosure plague.
About 134,000 of the workouts completed were mortgage modifications, which typically lower the interest rate on loans, lengthen mortgage terms or reduce principal owed to make loans more affordable. Modifications are considered more comprehensive and effective than repayment plans, which simply tack the late payments on to the end of the loan but don't reduce payments.
"The mortgage lending industry is responding to the needs of its customers and offering solutions that are appropriate to the current market and economic conditions," said Hope Now's director Faith Schwartz.
But in spite of these efforts, the number of foreclosures started in February rose to 243,000 from 217,000 in January. About 87,000 homes were repossessed by banks during February, a 28% jump from the 68,000 foreclosures completed in January. Since the mortgage meltdown hit in July 2007, 1,395,044 homes have been lost.
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