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What Banks Are Looking for to Grant a Loan Modification

What Banks Are Looking for to Grant a Loan Modification

If you are a homeowner considering a loan modification, keep in mind that a bank is as interested as you are in avoiding foreclosure. If you are a borrower who can continue to make payments, a bank will make every reasonable effort to help you modify your loan. However lenders will not grant loan modifications to every applicant. If you are a borrower and you cannot show the ability to repay the loan on time and consistently for the foreseeable future, then a bank would lose more money in the process and there is little benefit for the lending institution to do a loan modification with you. Foreclosure is a better option for the bank.


A loan modification becomes more of a liability than a foreclosure to the bank when the borrower stops making the payments. Foreclosure is designed to rectify this situation while incurring the least amount of losses from the borrower.

The notion behind turning around a liability is based on income. What amount of income can a homeowner allocate to the mortgage payment while still making ends meet? Is this a reasonable number for the bank to agree upon for a loan modification and let the homeowner stay in the house? What is the loss comparison between the proposed loan modification and the foreclosure? Can that homeowner actually make the loan modification payments that are proposed? What proof of income and cash flow is provided to back up these proposals?

If a bank agrees to a loan modification in lieu of foreclosure and the borrower still cannot make the payment, the bank is likely to lose even more. When a loan modification is agreed upon, the borrower usually has a forbearance period. The borrower’s status is also made current and past due balances are erased. Sometimes those balances are forgiven and other times they are added to the principal balance. Here is an example of the losses that the bank will take if the borrower still cannot meet the modified loan payments:

If a borrower is 90 days late when a loan modification is agreed upon and the forbearance is for three months, the bank is not receiving any payment during that time. The borrower then becomes current and is given a fresh start. But if after the loan modification is complete, the borrower starts missing payments again, the bank must now start the entire foreclosure process again.

Lenders generally will give the homeowner a few months into the loan modification before they file a notice of default, leading to foreclosure. Lenders will eventually foreclose on the property and get about the same in return at auction as they would have had they not engaged in a loan modification with the borrower. The difference is that if the property had gone into foreclosure, they would have had the money months earlier and not spent the time and resources modifying the loan. Loan modifications are very expensive to the bank, especially when they do not work, which is why banks place more stringent requirements on borrowers now to prove their ability to meet the loan modification standards in lieu of foreclosure before adjusting the terms.

More specifically, it is difficult to say exactly what the banks are looking for prior to granting a loan modification, however, ideal candidates have a number of the following characteristics:

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