More than 1 million American homeowners received permanent loan modifications from mortgage servicers in 2011, down 40% from 2010, Hope Now said Tuesday.

Last year, 1.05 million permanent loan modifications were finalized, compared to 1.76 million in 2010.

In December, Hope Now completed 80,000 loan mods, including 56,000 proprietary loan modifications and 23,374 that were finalized through the federal Home Affordable Modification Program.

Overall, modification activity outpaced foreclosures in 2011, with 843,000 foreclosure sales during the year, compared to 1.07 million in 2010.

"2011 was yet another challenging year for the nation's housing market and the economy in general," said Faith Schwartz, executive director of Hope Now. "However, great strides continue to be made on behalf of at-risk families across the country. Since 2007, more than 5 million permanent, sustainable solutions have been offered and in the past two years, almost 3 million have been done."

Loan modifications that employed a reduced principal and lower interest payment strategy accounted for 80% of all proprietary loan modifications, or approximately 555,000 mods.

Fixed-rate modifications accounted for 82% of all proprietary loan modifications in 2011, or about 572,000 mods.

Meanwhile, 60-plus day delinquencies for the month of December hit 2.79 million, compared to 2.87 million a year earlier. 

Hope Now is an alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, loan counselors and mortgage insurers who are busy working with distressed borrowers.