Can a Loan Modification Hurt Your Credit Score?

Applying for a loan modification can affect your credit score while you wait for your loan application to be processed. 

Q: Unfortunately, I am stuck with one of the worst monster mega banks for my loan modification. When I applied for a loan modification, they classified me as “delinquent” while they were processing my application. Finally, they lowered my interest to 5 percent from 5.75, much less than the other lenders were willing to do.

Apparently, I cannot apply for refinancing for 7 years, and my “bad record” will expire after one year. I get upset every time I need to talk to them. Is there anything I can do?

A: If you have been a regular reader, you’d have seen the many columns we’ve written on how the banks gave the appearance of trying to help their borrowers with loan modifications while at the same time making their lives worse by destroying their credit histories and credit scores.

Back when lenders started to offer loan modifications, lenders said if you made three temporary loan modification payments, the modification would become permanent (a sentiment echoed by President Obama).

However, lenders never clearly disclosed (and often denied) to their borrowers that the loan modification process allowed the bank to report the lower temporary loan payments as a negative piece of information on their credit history.

On the other hand, you appear to have received a permanent loan modification. While you might not feel that the 5 percent rate is great, you got something that most other borrowers that applied for a loan modification did not. Most other borrowers that applied and paid temporary lower payments ended up without a permanent loan modification and with a credit history far worse than when they first met with their lenders.

You should look at your credit history and see if there is anything else that might be hurting your credit score. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com and obtain at least one credit history available to you free of charge. The three largest credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) manage this site and by law, they must each provide you with a free copy of your credit history, once a year.

While your credit history is free, getting a copy of your credit score will cost you around $10 – but we recommend you do it so you can see a rough approximation of what your lender sees. Once you receive your credit history, you can review it for inconsistencies, mistakes and start to understand whether there is anything you can do other than allowing time to pass that will improve it.

If you clean up your credit history, your credit score will improve. Once your credit score is over 720, you should be able to refinance your loan with a different lender. The real issue is whether you have any equity in your home.

You could have received the loan modification from your lender even if you had little or no equity in your home. That means that your lender modified your loan even if the amount you owed on your home exceeded the value of the home. If you wanted to refinance today and your home’s value was still lower than what you owe the lender, you wouldn’t be able to get a new loan. In fact, the only way you’ll be able to get a new loan is to wait for your home’s value to go way up or sell the home in a short sale and then buy a new home several years down the road.


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One Response to Can a Loan Modification Hurt Your Credit Score?

  1. Sharon says:

    WF just let me know that I need to SKIP two months of the modified loan amount in order for the loan modification papers to generate and allow the lower payment to become permanent. I’ve been paying the lower rate for around 6 – 7 months, after a double-dip mistake by the lender.

    After 6 – 7 months and no change to the initial report of a lower income level, isn’t there anyway to avoid this intentional hit to my credit??? Why do they require this???

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