Military Members Need Immediate Correction to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Rulnick Realty, Inc.

joint strike fighter

I am privileged to represent Major Jason M. Trew, a pilot with the United States Air Force, as a real estate client.  Major Trew is stationed at Eglin Air Force Base.  I have Major Trew's home listed for sale in Freeport Florida because he is being required to relocate by the Air Force to a new base.  Like many others in the military, his property value has declined to an amount lower than his mortgage balance. Major Trew is not a property flipper nor a speculator.  He earnestly relocated to the Emerald Coast of Florida for the military, as directed by the United States government, and invested in a home for his family in March 2007.   I am printing his letter to Congress, with his permission, of grave concern regarding the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and its affect on our military by establishing an arbitrary cut-off date for aid to military members who purchased homes with values now below mortgage balances:

The Honorable Dave Obey

Chairman, Committee on Appropriations

Room H-218, The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman,

Section 1001 of the ‘‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009'' includes a provision extending temporary homeowner assistance for members of the armed forces permanently reassigned during this mortgage crisis.  However, I strongly disagree with the stipulation that the property must have been purchased before July 1, 2006.

When the Military Officers Association of America asked the Appropriations Committee staff for the rationale for that cutoff date, the committee indicated the sense that the home market decline was underway at that point, and the intent was to protect people who purchased homes before they had any warning to expect a decline.

Contrary to this assumption, the fact that home prices had decreased was an incentive to purchase a home.  In fact, the National Association of Realtors launched a $40 million campaign in fall 2006 to encourage home purchases.  Within the Florida real estate market, a survey released just after the July 1, 2006 cutoff date found that:

                -Only 16% of homeowners listed a "fear of a price bubble"

                -Only 5% said they were concerned about falling home values overall

                -58% were optimistic that home values in their own community would continue to increase

In January 2007, a Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) report that indicated "the market correction has plateaued and the local real estate industry is likely on the rebound."  That same month, the FAR president stated that, "now is the time to take advantage of homeownership opportunities."

After reading articles like these, we purchased a home in March 2007 because we assessed that the market's decline was near the end and we did not expect a further decrease.  Obviously, we purchased at a bad time in the real estate market, just as those who purchased before July 1, 2006.

Starting last summer, we attempted to sell our home for a loss that we could personally absorb.  In seven months, no one inquired about the house and a recent comparative market analysis estimated the value at $70,000 less than our mortgage balance and $120,000 less than the appraised value at the time of purchase.  We are now pursuing a short sale and deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure.  Either option will significantly impact our credit for many years.

As an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, the current wording of the ARRA provides us no relief as we prepare to move to our new assignment.  Many other military families are in the same situation. 

The 1 July 2006 date was a faulty decision that sacrificed effectiveness for the sake of simplicity and I request that you to introduce legislation that corrects this costly mistake.


Jason M. Trew

4 Attachments:

1.  New York Times article, "Realtors Say the Stars Are Aligned for Housing" (6 November 2006)

2.  Orlando Sentinel article, "Poll: Homeowners fear storms, not lower values" (8 July 2006)

3.  Bradenton Herald article, "Realtors predicting home sale uptick" (26 January 2007)

4.  PR Newswire article, "Florida's Existing Housing Market: Median Price Up, Sales Down in 2006" (25 January 2007)


Senator Bill Nelson (D- FL) 

Senator Mel Martinez (R- FL) 

Representative Jeff Miller (R - 01) 


Contact Wendy Rulnick, Broker

Destin Florida real estate and the Emerald Coast

Rulnick Realty, Inc.



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Wendy Rulnick, Broker/Owner Rulnick Realty, Inc.

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

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Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore - Little Egg Harbor, NJ
Your Realtor Down the Shore!

Great letter, I'd love to hear about the response.  I sure hope its more than the usual "Thanks for your letter and comments"

Feb 27, 2009 01:07 AM #1
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Laura - Jason did a lot of research, and he has very valid points.  My area is heavy military, three bases Eglin, Hurlburt and Duke (also Tyndall and Pensacola).  These military people are ordered to move.  They've just been good citizens to our community while here.  Why a stupid cutoff of 2006?

Feb 27, 2009 01:11 AM #2
Sergio Rebollo Jr.
Real Estate TeamMates - Miami, FL

Kudos to you Wendy for circulating to all out there situations that need fixing.  This is not the first time that you are creating an awareness for an issue that needs correcting.  The internet medium has a viral way about itself and you never know what your efforts may accomplish for your clients.  Good job!!  I'll repost if you don't mind.

Feb 28, 2009 02:14 PM #4
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Thank you, Sergio.  Yes, please re-post.  I am waiting for the details of this assistance plan to the military.  Even their commanders don't know what it entails, the guys have told me.  I have one client signing up to see what will happen, then I'll let everyone know.

Mar 01, 2009 03:13 AM #5
Kathy Torline
ERA Herman Group Real Estate - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Real Estate Blog 719-287-1049

Wendy:  I also live in an area that has many military bases.  Any suggestions on where I can find out more about "extending temporary homeowner assistance"?

Mar 07, 2009 11:35 PM #6
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Kathy - I've seen packages from some of my military guys, but I think they need to ask their commanders for details, according to my fellows.

Mar 08, 2009 03:00 AM #7

Hi! The current guidlines do not address homeowners who meet all eligibility, but for two criteria.  Under the DOD guidlines (when they were actually posted), those applying for PCS moves had to meet two additional criteria:

  1. There had to be a 10% in the area since July 2006

 2. The home has to show a 10%  individual loss of value in the sales price of the home  and its purchase price.  So, a home purchased in 2004 for $200,000 has to be listed today at $180,000 to be eligible.

Under the litmus test, those who purchased a home prior to July 2006 and took a second mortgage or a HELOC between the acquistion of the home and July 2006, when the market supported such decisions,  are now not eligible yo receive assistance, because now the balance due is more then PFMV (defined by DOD as the purchase price of home).   In the example above, suppose a military member purchased a home in 2004 for $200,000, took out a HELOC for $50,000 in 2005, and received orders in June 2007.  The member now owes $250,000, but according to DOD must still sell at $180,000, which isn't feasible as the member is now upside down. The member is now at risk for foreclosure, short-sale, or the family must decide to live apart and maitain two households. Either way, the member's credit is at risk, and the family is subjected to even more stress, seperations before/during/after deployments, and economic hardships.

Is there anything being to done to address this issue or have you heard that help may be forthcoming for such individuals?  Thank you!




Jun 22, 2009 08:13 AM #8
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Hi Concerned,  Thank you for your comments.  My conversations with HAP indicate they don't have clear interpretations of the guidelines.  You are correct- they had them up there for a few days, then they were mysteriously taken down.  I don't have high hopes that alternatives can be avoided for our pcs'ing military.  Please post any news you get, and I will do the same.

Jun 22, 2009 09:04 AM #9
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