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Let the Short Sales Begin

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Today the Administration's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative Plantakes effect, offering incentives to borrowers, servicers, investors and second lien holders to push short sales through the system. Yep, everyone gets a cut of government funds to get these troubled borrowers out of their homes and get them sold, even if the sale price is less than the value of the loan.

I find it interesting that before the plan even went into effect today, the Administration upped the incentives a week ago, doubling the amount of cash to $3000 offered as borrower "relocation expenses" and juicing the payoffs to the others as well. Of course they want to push short sales because of course they know that their modification program isn't working as planned.

But the biggest impediment to the plan is the lenders themselves, who have to weigh what's going to save them the most money and cause them the least bleeding on their books.

Is it a short sale or a foreclosure sale?

We're already seeing inventories shrinking way down out West, where banks are holding on to foreclosed properties and manipulating prices to their advantage.

I'm also starting to hear rumblings among the number crunchers that the wave of foreclosures we keep hearing about is about to hit with a thunderous roar.

Servicers are ramping up the mod process and pushing those who don't qualify out the door more quickly than ever. A big jump in inventories, which we already saw last month, right in the midst of the Spring market will turn home prices on their heels.

Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the jump we saw today in the Pending Home Sales Index, but there was just something a little too hesitant in the Realtors' report. They seem to be talking about hints and hopes, rather than real change.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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