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RISMEDIA, February 5, 2011—(MCT)—Mortgage loan servicers negotiated 1.76 million permanent loan modifications for homeowners last year, but more than two-thirds of them were completed in-house and not as part of the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program.

A year-end report from Hope Now, a private-sector group of mortgage servicers, investors, insurers and nonprofit counselors showed that mortgage servicers arranged 1.24 million proprietary permanent modifications, compared to the 512,712 modifications begun under the government’s more rigorous HAMP program. In 2009, more than half of the total number of loan modifications made were through HAMP.

It’s unclear how many of those permanent in-house modifications received during 2010 are still current. The Treasury Department recently said one in five homeowners who received a permanent HAMP modification during 2009’s final quarter was at least 60 days delinquent on their mortgage payments at the end of 2010.

In an indication of the serious difficulties that lie ahead for consumers and the housing market this year, the number of consumers who were at least 60 days behind on their mortgage totaled 2.87 million in December. Still, 60-day loan delinquencies are 30% lower than they were at the end of December 2009.

Hope Now’s data also showed a significant fourth-quarter drop in foreclosure starts and sales, compared with the third-quarter, but that is largely the result of mortgage servicers temporarily suspending foreclosure actions while they and states investigated their back-office procedures.

© 2011, Chicago Tribune.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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