One of the biggest sources of confusion I find with Eglin Air Force Base HAP sales from the seller comes at closing. First, if you don’t know what HAP is – it’s the Homeowner Assistance Program from the Department of Defense. It’s designed to help military members who have permanent change of station orders (PCS), and are “upside down” in their home values, i.e. owe more on their mortgages than their property’s market value. HAP will pay the mortgage deficit under certain circumstances, which helps the service member avoid the credit impact of short sale or foreclosure due to their mandatory relocation.
One of the stipulations of HAP is that the Eglin airman is current on his mortgage payments, taxes and association dues, or that is the extent to which the benefits apply. For example, if you were six months behind in your mortgage, HAP would not pay the amounts in arrears to satisfy your bank. You must. So what’s the issue? Even service members who are “current” on their mortgage payments will normally owe a pro-rated amount of mortgage interest, taxes and maybe association dues at closing. Remember, mortgage interest is paid in arrears. If you have a payment due on March 1, that would cover the interest for the month of February, not March.
My last HAP seller asked me why he had a bill for almost $1500 at time of closing from the U.S. Government title agent. I told him it was probably his mortgage proration. He said, “But I made my mortgage payment!” I said, “Yes, but that covered the previous month.” If your closing is mid-month, you would owe about two weeks worth of interest to your mortgage company, which will be collected by the title agent to pay your lender at closing. That goes for taxes and association fees, too.
Florida’s state taxes are paid one year in arrears (not all states handle their property taxes the same way). That means that the tax bill for your Navarre, Niceville, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach or Destin property covers the previous year (arrears). If you close on September 1, for example, the buyer will still receive the tax bill for the time YOU owned the property during the past year. That wouldn’t be fair, would it? So at time of closing, you have to reimburse the buyer the eight months to apply to the tax bill they will be getting at the end of the year. Yes, your mortgage company normally (but not always) escrows this amount in your total mortgage payment. You will get a reimbursement check after closing for any remaining balance in your escrow account. But forthe HAP closing, you will owe the year-to-date taxes that are due. The same applies to homeowners association dues. The government won’t pay those on your behalf.
So what is a reasonable expectation for funds the Eglin service member might
need for closing? Set aside enough to cover one mortgage payment, and potentially, almost a year tax obligation. You probably will not need all of it, but be prepared “just in case”.
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: [email protected]