With the recent economic troubles, loan modification becomes increasing important for many people seeking to reduce their mortgage payments and keep their homes. It is a process where revised loan terms are negotiated between a lender and borrower. This occurs with a wide variety of loan, but it usually involves the revision of mortgages.
Under normal circumstances, a borrower makes periodic payments on a loan. A loan is comprised of principal and interest. Principal is the value of the loan itself. A $200,000 home loan starts off with $200,000 of principal owed. Interest is the fee charged, usually monthly or yearly, for the loan service. If $100 was still owed in principal and the interest rate was 10%, then $10 of interest would be owed for a total payment of $110. Until the loan is completely paid, the lender holds a lien over the property to ensure that they will receive their money back.
This type of loan change is usually done when the mortgagor cannot afford to pay the required payments. They are also sometimes implemented when new laws or industry norms require the changes. In almost all cases, it is to the borrower's benefit.
Loan modification can benefit you in a number of ways. More favorable interest rates and fees are the primary benefit usually extended when receiving modified mortgage terms. The loan term can be lengthened to spread out payments over a longer period of time. In some cases, the lender may also offer to reduce a portion of the principle or to limit minimum payments based on household income.
The state of a loan does not impede the ability to apply for mortgage modification. Even if you have faulted on your loan or face foreclosure proceedings, you can still file an application for modification. However, even if you are up to date or ahead on your loan, you can still seek modification. Banks and finance companies are not obligated to offer modified terms, but it is often in their favor to do so. Borrowers with a good payment history are likely to refinance and pay off their original loan, depriving the bank of the loan profit. For poor payment histories, altered terms and lowered expenses make it more likely to be profitable than a costly and inconvenient foreclosing process.
While there are a few limited mandatory programs, lenders are free to offer modifications of existing loan agreements on a voluntary basis. Despite this, the federal and state government do offer a wide variety of tax breaks and other incentives for financial institutions to offer more opportunities for mortgage modification.