The number of homeowners who receive loan modifications rose to roughly 44,000 in January — up 2% from the previous month, according to a report from the mortgage industry group Hope Now.

The January total includes roughly 29,000 homeowners who received proprietary loan modifications and 15,729 homeowners who received modifications through the government's Home Affordable Modification Program, according to the report.

Homeowners completed 11,742 short sales in January, down 21% from the previous month.

Foreclosure starts fell to 75,000 in January, a 5% decline. Foreclosure sales increased by 25%, to 48,000.

"At the end of the day, the number of modifications and short sales is generally more than foreclosure sales, which shows progress," Hope Now spokesman Brad Dwin said Tuesday.

Serious delinquencies (mortgage payments that were late by 60 days or more) remained basically flat at just under 2 million.

"This is the first time [since the financial crisis] that we've seen serious delinquencies dip below 2 million," Dwin said. At the peak of the crisis, serious delinquencies swelled to over 4 million. "This shows that things are recovering slightly."

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