For homeowners trying to do short sales, some good news will kick in next month.

Announced last year and finally here, short sale incentives under the federal rescue of troubled homeowner will start April 5 with participating lenders and loan servicers. It’s called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, part of the Making Home Affordable program, and cash will be given to borrowers, lenders and investors who make such deals.

A short sale is a home sale in which the lender agrees to take less than what’s owed on the mortgage, usually because the homeowner can’t pay the mortgage and the house is appraised for less nowadays.

Short sales have become more common, but they’ve been hard to pull off.

One big problem: Homeowners would have to get buyers to sign a contract, submit it to the lender and wait for an answer on whether the price is acceptable. This can take months and even more than a year, attorneys and real estate agents have complained.

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That left real estate agents and sellers guessing on the price, said Melville-based attorney Peter Goodman, who represents homeowners on short sales and foreclosures. Some sellers submitted contract after contract in search of lender approval, he said.

But the new federal incentive program on short sales calls for lenders to cite a price before the homeowner goes through the selling process, the attorney said: “It will allow the homeowners to get a price on the property before submitting the contract. They can know how much the bank is willing to accept as their net before having to go to contract.”