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New plan to jump-start loan mods

Web portal would centralize communication, break logjam

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With no end to the housing crisis in sight, the need to modify loan contracts to make payments more affordable is greater than ever. While the number of modifications is rising steadily, it is running far behind the need. In the first quarter of 2009, the loan servicers reporting to the government reduced the interest rate or loan balance on only 120,465 loans. This is an annual rate of about half a million, which is no more than one-fifth of what is needed. Modifying a mortgage is not that big a deal. According to Joseph Smith of Default Mitigation Management LLC, who has been modifying loans on a small scale for several years, "After you get the borrower's complete package, it takes only about 45 minutes from beginning to end to modify a loan. This includes reviewing a budget with the borrower (20 minutes), determining surplus income (two minutes), completing the loan modification analysis worksheet (10 minutes), generating a special forbearance and mailing it out (...