The nation's largest banks are offering sweeping modifications on millions of mortgages. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi alone have promised to restructure 1.3 million more loans.

But how efficiently loans can be reworked will depend in part on how heavily institutions have invested in loan technology, and how easily the systems can accommodate new rules. If all those origination documents are in manila folders in the basement, restructuring half a million loans will be a long slog. "For lenders that are electronic, it's a large effort, but something they can get done in two-to-three quarters," says Dain Ehring, CEO of lending technology leader Dorado. "If they're not electronic I think it's two-to-three years."

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