Servicers supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency completed fewer loan modifications in the first quarter as the number of delinquent borrowers who need assistance appears to be shrinking.

The OCC Mortgage Metrics Report released Wednesday morning shows the nine servicers had 867,500 loans that were 90 days or more past as of March 31, down 12% from the fourth quarter and 17% from a year ago.

The percentage of loans 30 days to 89 days past due fell to the lowest level since financial crisis in 2008.

Meanwhile, the number of loan modifications fell by 20% from the fourth to the first quarter.

OCC mortgage expert Bruce Krueger told reporters that the ongoing reduction in delinquent mortgages is occurring in early-stage delinquencies and in late-stage delinquencies.

He attributes this reduction in delinquencies to improving jobs numbers in the first quarter, firming house prices and refinancing programs.

Nevertheless, servicers completed 92,150 loan modifications in the first quarter including 36,500 HAMP mods.

There are still a substantial number of persons receiving modifications each month. “Those who do qualify are significantly better off and performing quite well,” Krueger said.

He noted that 20% of borrowers that obtained a HAMP modification in the first quarter also benefited from a principal reduction.

Meanwhile, the nine servicers completed nearly 185,800 foreclosure sales, short sales and deed-in-lien transactions in the first quarter, up 2% from the previous quarter and 8% from a year ago.

The nine OCC-regulated servicers are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, HSBC, MetLife, PNC, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and OneWest Bank.

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