Hope Now's mortgage servicing partners completed 56,000 loan modifications in August, which is virtually unchanged from a month earlier, bringing its four-year loan mod total to 4.86 million. Hope Now is a consortium of mortgage servicers, lenders and housing counselors working together to preserve homeownership. Meanwhile, the inventory of loans more than 60-days past due hit 2.8 million last month, down slightly from the previous month's delinquency inventory of 2.81 million loans. "Hope Now’s servicing partners continue to complete permanent loan modifications at a rate consistent with past months — in spite of tremendous negative impact of the continued housing and unemployment crisis," said Faith Schwartz, executive director of Hope Now. "And, in cases where modifications are not possible, the industry is working hard to educate at-risk homeowners about the options available to them." Completed foreclosure sales in August rose 5% from 68,000 in July. Foreclosure starts increased 18% in August, rising to 218,000 from 185,000 in July. So far this year, Hope Now has modified 690,000 loans. About 478,000 are proprietary modifications, while 211,749 were completed through the Home Affordable Modification Program. Write to Kerri Panchuk.