In a report that may be considered numerical ammunition to the argument that short sales are heating up faster than modifications, Equator announced that it ushered along more than 125,000 short sale transactions, from November to February, since launching an automated short sale platform. Comparatively, the 113 servicers participating in Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) conducted 170,000 permanent modifications since its launch in March 2009. Short sales are growing in demand, and other outsourcing and technology firms are flooding the market with new ways to make the transactions easier. But, because short sales require a sign-off from so many different parties, the pipeline often bogs down easily. Chris Saitta, CEO of Equator said it could take more than six months to get a short sale completed, but the new platform pares that time down significantly. Short sales sold through Equator averaged 88 days from initial contact to close. One property, Saitta said, closed in 17 days. The platform gathers the financial information from borrowers and provides regular status updates. The system also automates the servicer valuation and decision process. There is already a complaint system built in for the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program. HousingWire broke the news of the program back in October and the risk of potential fraud. The US Treasury Department will provide incentives to servicers participating in HAFA to conduct short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure for borrowers who are not eligible for a HAMP. Despite early warning signs of misuse, the program is sparking demand for some. Ari Afshar, the co-founder and vice president of Housing Assist of America, which brokers short sale deals in California, said business is picking up. “This HAFA program will definitely expedite short sales, and increase the volume drastically. We are already seeing a huge influx of deals as a result of the news,” Afshar said. “It should add incentive for them to move forward, while still mitigating their losses.” The program launches April 5, 2010. Write to Jon Prior.