Even before the government put pressure on them to embrace short sales, more banks were starting to take their lumps, do the short-sale deals and move on.

Three years into the housing meltdown, short sales have tripled to 40,000 in the first six months of 2009, compared to the same time period a year ago, according to data from the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Wells Fargo, Bank of America Corp., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. this year have hired and trained more staff to handle short sales and also developed software for expediting them.

It's really finally dawning on banks that they're better off with a short sale, said Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I think banks were in denial.

Source: Bloomberg, John Gittelsohn and Margaret Collins (12/4/2009)