Residential servicers completed 20% fewer proprietary loan modifications in February than the month prior, according to new figures compiled by the Hope Now servicing alliance.

Hope Now servicers completed 44,550 modifications during the month, down from 55,775 in January.  In February 2011, servicers completed 60,800 modifications. 

The number of modifications (excluding HAMP mods) has averaged 55,000 per month for nearly a year.

The sudden 20% drop could mean that loans most likely to modify have already gone through the process, leaving mostly harder-to-qualify mortgages.   

Meanwhile, the new Hope Now report shows the bump up in foreclosures sales and starts that occurred in January dropped back to December levels.

Foreclosures starts fell to 167,100 units in February from 200,450 the prior month.  Foreclosure sales totaled 69,250, down from 78,700 in January.

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