Homeowners Assistance Program: How do you apply?

Part 3 in an ongoing series on the Homeowner's Assistance Program

If you believe that you meet the eligibility criteria for Expanded HAP, as broken down in Part II of our blog, the next step is to submit an application with the Army Corps of Engineers for your respective district. 

Application packages can be downloaded from the Army Corps of Engineers HAP website, located at http://hap.usace.army.mil, along with mailing address for the respective district where they should be mailed. 

There is a checklist of items included with the application package that you will need to include, and in order for your application to be more readily processed, the Corps of Engineers recommends that you submit all requested documentation at one time. 

An important thing to remember is that if you qualify as a service member on PCS orders, and you have not yet sold your home, in order for you to receive Expanded HAP benefits, you must procure a buyer for your property.  If you do not have a buyer, the Corps of Engineers may determine that you would superficially be entitled to benefits, but they will not be able to determine your full eligibility until they have a signed contract. 

Also, you will need to include a contingency clause in the contract for HAP assistance, and you will have to use whatever language you believe will best protect your interest, as the Corps of Engineers will not provide any specific language.

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an automatically-generated email message acknowledging receipt of your application.  The email will provide you with the contact information for your designated Realty Specialist, and will also state that a determination of your benefits cannot be determined until the Corps of Engineers has received all the necessary information they may request from you. 

As your application is processed, it is possible that the Corps of Engineers will need additional documentation from you, and it is important for you to provide that documentation in a timely fashion in order for your application to proceed.  

If you are a PCS applicant, your best goal is to sell your house for 10% less than your original purchase price, and be within 10% of the current fair market value.  The Corps of Engineers will submit your application and contract to their appraisers to determine whether or not your contract falls within those parameters. 

If you are using a real estate agent, you should have them prepare a Current Market Assessment (CMA) to assist in justifying the sales price.  This will assist the appraiser in making a final determination of the legitimacy of your contract.  Please note, it may take up to two (2) weeks for the appraiser to make a final determination, and if your contract is approved, your file will then be passed to a Benefits Specialist.

It is also important to keep in mind that the process of applying for Expanded HAP assistance through your settlement date will be a very lengthy process.  As I mentioned in Part I of this blog series (insert link here), as of August 11, 2010, HAP has assisted 2,622 service members and civilian employees, and there are another 5,003 eligible applicants that are awaiting benefits, and just as many pending applications to be approved, if not more. 

Your assigned Realty Specialist will not be able to respond to emails or voicemail messages quickly, but they will respond to you.  It can take anywhere from seven (7) to twenty-one (21) days for your completed application to go through the initial determination of eligibility, and it is important to include this information with your potential buyer.  In addition, depending on the type of benefits you are requesting, you may need to include an additional thirty (30) to sixty (60) days before you are able to go to settlement.

Once your application is determined to be complete and you are entitled to benefits under the program, it will then be necessary to determine what benefits you are eligible for. 

Please stay tuned for Part IV – What Are the Benefits?

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