Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why don't banks want to modify mortgages with principal reductions?

Basically, lenders get to write-off loans from their balance sheet to their income statement when they allow a short sale or foreclosure. This results in a loss which can be offset against other income, resulting in a tax savings for the lender.

When lenders agree to reduce principal, they still have to carry the loan on their balance sheet at the original value, plus get a smaller payment. The teenie bitty incentive payment (around $1,000) to allow modification is a small drop in the bucket. Thus, there is absolutely no tax incentive to allow principal reductions.

When lenders agree to reduce the interest rate, they typically add any reduction back to principal (remember negative amortization?) and can actuall INCREASE the asset shown on the balance sheet.

Unless the tax treatment is equalized, don't look for voluntary principal reductions.

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