Saturday, May 9, 2009

Help for Military Being Forced to Sell Their Homes

"I am being transferred," said my client, a navy captain . I hated to break the news to him that his home value in San Diego had fallen $100,000 since he had bought it in 2005. I discussed his options which included a short sale. However, since he owned another home in Florida this might not have been the best option for him. The banks could potentially attach a lien to the small amount of equity that he had in that property. I encouraged him to talk to a Military lawyer and to talk to his commander. Fortunately, he was able to delay his transfer. However, not all military personnel are so fortunate.

It didn't seem fair. The military serving our country and risking their lives, and as a result of being transferred, at no fault of their own, they could lose everything and face financial ruin. Finally, help is on the way.

Recently, as the result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, The Department of Defense(DOD) Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) was expanded to include military members affected by the housing market, who face financial hardships as a result of being permanently reassigned during the mortgage crisis.

Below are the eligibility requirements:

1. Permanent reassignment requiring move of more than 50 miles.

2. Reassignment ordered between 1 February 2006 and 30 September 2012 (or earlier date designated by SECDEF (Secretary of Defense).

3. Property purchased (or contract to purchase signed) before 1 July 2006.

4. Property sold by owner between 1 July 2006 and 30 September 2012, or earlier date designated by SECDEF.

5. Property was the primary residence of the owner.

6. Owner has not previously received these benefit payments.The process is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, however each base should have a focal point (MPF or housing office) for this program to provide local guidance/oversight and to validate eligibility based on PCS (permanent change of station) orders.

According to the Homeowners' Assistance Program--Department of Defense website the funding policy process is still being worked out, and according to some sources may be available as soon as May 15, 2009.

The instructions and application can be downloaded from the website above. The link provides all the information about the program and specifically on PCS eligibility when you click on "Service Members Homeowners on PCS".

While the application processing will commence as soon as possible after the DOD guidance is posted, they encouraged potential service members to submit an application. The application is found under "How to Apply". They will process the applications based on the implementation guidance.

Having two sons who are veterans and one that is still in the reserves, it is good to know our country is offering the military help during a difficult time.

Virginia Hall, ABR®, GRI® , e-Pro
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

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