One of the worst things that distressed Central Coast homeowners do is waiting until the clock is ticking before contacting a short sale agent. When does the clock start ticking? I tell people it starts ticking when you stop paying. Ideally, if you know a financial hardship is imminent, you should begin exploring your options, including a short sale, before any payments are even missed. In its recent Open Letter on Short Sales, the California Association Realtors reports that according to surveyed California Realtors® only about three out of five short sales close.