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About 290,000 foreclosure starts were reported in the third quarter - a decline of more than 10% compared to 323,000 recorded during the second quarter, and a decline of about 42% compared to the 499,000 recorded in the third quarter of 2012, according to HOPE NOW, a voluntary, private-sector alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, mortgage insurers and nonprofit counselors.

Completed foreclosure sales in the third quarter totaled 167,000, compared to 158,000 in the second quarter - an increase of 6%.

About 181,000 homeowners received permanent loan modifications from mortgage servicers in the third quarter, a decline of about 22% compared to the approximately 233,000 loan mods in the third quarter of 2012. Since 2007, the mortgage industry has completed more than 6.71 million total permanent loan modifications for homeowners, according to the group.

Of those loan modifications, more than 5.4 million were proprietary programs, and nearly 1.3 million were completed under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Of the 181,000 loan modifications completed for the third quarter, 136,000 homeowners received proprietary loan modifications, and 45,136 homeowners received loan modifications completed under HAMP.

Short sales totaled 67,000 - a decline of 17% compared to 81,000 recorded in the second quarter and a decline of 39% compared to the 109,000 recorded in the third quarter of 2012. Nearly 19,000 short sales took place in September, according to HOPE NOW.

A total of 1.39 million short sales have been recorded since December 2009.

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