Search Results for: HAP money

Eglin HAP Question – Why Does Seller Bring Money to Closing?

Eglin HAP
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.

Eglin HAP PCSMy 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 forEGLIN HAP PCSthe 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”.

It’s Wendy!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.

Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy:

How to Sell Faster and For More Money – List – Sale – Price Ratio

List Price Real estate vs Sale price

Time and again, I’ve seen sellers reject a first and often “fast” offer on their property.  What a mistake.  Here is how to get a better list-to-sale price ratio, and sell faster and for more money.

Here is a typical scenario I am talking about:

1. Home is listed at $640,000.

2. An offer comes in three days later for $590,000.

3. The seller responds with $635,000.

4. After a little negotiating, the buyer goes  to $600,000 and the seller $632,000.

5. No contract

This scenario usually happens when the list price is too high.  If the list price were closer to market value, the offer would probably be higher. For example, market value for this property listed at $640,000 was really $610,000.  If the seller had listed for $619,900, the buyer may have come in at $610,000 or more! And the house would have been SOLD. Instead, it will sit on the market for months. The seller “may” lower his price, little by little, with nudging from his agent. Eventually, months later, it may sell for $590,000.

Real estate questions?

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy:

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, has been featured in “Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine” and “Florida Realtor Magazine”.  Wendy Rulnick sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Crestview, Rosemary Beach, Mary Esther, Shalimar, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Panama City Beach.

What Happens at Closing?

Most states in the US use title and escrow companies (usually one company combining both services) to facilitate real estate transactions. Some states use attorneys which act as intermediaries for the same purpose. This discussion, viewed from a home buyer’s perspective, includes the role of a title and escrow company.

A title and escrow company fulfills two functions: escrow holder and title insurance provider. An escrow holder is an agent who takes possession of money and written instruments until such time as certain conditions are met. In the simplest terms, the escrow company receives the seller’s grant deed, your money, then makes the exchange: you get the deed, the seller gets the money.

Several days before the transaction is scheduled to close (funds disbursed, deed recorded), you’ll sign your closing documents. Presented below are the closing procedures relative to signing documents.

Pre-document Signing

A good guide to understanding your duties throughout the escrow process is your purchase agreement (contract). The contract identifies the duties of buyer and seller. Your tasks may include:

  •  Ordering, reviewing and approving (or negotiating findings of) property inspection reports stipulated in the contract (roof, structural, pest control, etc.).
  • Inspecting any completed work designated in such reports.
  • Applying for financing, including receiving and understanding a Good Faith Estimate.
  •  Identifying an insurance agent.

Document Signing

Document signing usually occurs at the title and escrow company. Your real estate agent may accompany you. You may have your attorney present. At minimum, in attendance will be the buyers and an escrow company employee, who may also provide notary services. The escrow company employee will answer any questions about their documents and will guide you through the signing process. You’ll be reminded ahead of time to bring to the appointment two official photo IDs and a cashier’s check (if funds will not be electronically transferred) for the balance of your down payment.

The principle documents you will read and sign include:

  •  Escrow instructions (based upon and adding to the purchase contract) which will include:

             − the purchase price and terms

             − agreement regarding mortgages

             − title vesting

             − matters of record affecting title

            − inspection reports to be delivered into escrow

            − proration adjustments

            − date of possession

            − disbursements to be made

            − identification of all charges and who pays for them

            − closing date

  •  Loan documents (promissory note, loan agreement, deed of trust, Truth In Lending)
  •  Fire Insurance (and other requested) coverage
  • Structural Pest Control (and other reports) for acceptance
  •  Other documents as required

The escrow company is required to execute escrow instructions. The escrow company will not:

  •  Interpret your purchase contract
  •  Act as mediator or advisor
  •  Participate in controversy
  •  Arbitrate disputes
  •  Offer legal advice
  •  Act in a discretionary capacity

Post-document Signing

Between the time you sign documents and close of escrow, the title and escrow company will:

  •  Request funds from the new lender (if required).
  •  Verify that checks, drafts, etc. have cleared.
  •  Order recording (includes title search and document recording).
  •  Provide the HUD-1* (when required). This document must be made available at least one day prior to closing.
  •  Close escrow:

             − confirm recording

            − prepare settlement statements

            − deliver documents to parties of the transaction

  •  When the deed has been recorded, you are entitled to the keys to your new home.

* The HUD-1 Settlement Statement is an accounting of the closing. All money flowing into and out of settlement appears on the form.

You Should Consider HAP for Eglin PCS to Avoid Foreclosure or Short Sale

Eglin HAP agent


HAP is the Homeowners Assistance Program that helps Eglin Air Force Base or Hurlburt Field airmen PCSing to new bases who have upside-down equity in their homes. That is, their mortgage balances are more than the fair market values of their properties. HAP helps those military members who are ordered to transfer to new bases avoid foreclosure, short sale and VA Compromise Sale by paying off the mortgage balance not covered by the sales proceeds due to declining market values.  If you qualify for HAP, there are three main programs for assistance:  Government Acquisition (GA), Government Assisted Private Sale (GAPS), and Private Sale (PS).


In this article, we’ll example the Government Assisted Private Sale (formerly called Private Sale Augmentation).  Will it work for you? Let’s see….


GAPS is a more complicated HAP program, but you could end up putting dollars in your pocket if the calculations work in your favor. To figure out how much of your mortgage and closing costs it will cover, HAP calculates  90% of your prior fair market value (your purchase price plus costs of improvements), adds about 7% for closing costs, then subtracts out your new purchase price and mortgage payoff, plus any buyer credits and actual closing costs.  If you have put enough improvements into your home, or the purchase price is high enough, or your mortgage payoff low enough, that’s where this program makes sense – your mortgage and closing costs will be covered and you get money back at closing. Let’s look at an example.


For our example, let’s start with these numbers.


Original Purchase Price             $300,000

Improvements                             $20,000

Total Prior Fair Market Value    $320,000 (PFMV)

PFMV $320,000 x 90% =              $288,000 (HAP benefit)

Sale Price                                    $200,000

HAP Closing Cost Estimate       $14,000 (sale price x 7%)

Outstanding Mortgage               $250,000

Seller Subsidy,Closing Costs    $7000
Now, to put our calculations together….

Property Benefit = .90 X 320,000(PFMV) = 288,000 – 200,000 (sale price)  = $88,000 (property benefit)

Estimated HAP Benefit = 88,000 + 14,000 (est closing costs)  = 102,000
Cash to Closing = (200,000 purchase price  + 102,000 = 302,000) – (250,000 mortgage balance  + 7,000 seller subsidy = 257,000) = 45,000
SELLER GETS $45,000 Back at closing!


How would the GAPS HAP Program not work for the Eglin AFB Service Member? Let’s alter the numbers, and pretend the outstanding mortgage balance were higher, let’s say $285,000, and the sale price lower, like $180,000, and all the other numbers were the same.


In that case:

Cash to Closing = (180,000 purchase price  + 102,000 = 282,000) – (285,000 mortgage balance  +7,000) = 292,000) =  -10,000 Uh Oh!! Seller would have to bring $10,000 to closing! This GAPS program would not work to the benefit of the Eglin or Hurlburt airman.


What’s the alternative? Use the standard HAP Government Acquisition (GA) program. In the GA program, HAP will simply pay off the mortgage balance at closing, plus 3% buyer credit of allowable closing costs.  There would be a closing first between the U.S. and the service member, then a same-day closing between the U.S. and the buyer the service member found through his Realtor who specializes in HAP.


There are more detailed criteria that apply to each HAP scenario.  If you are PCSing, need to sell, and want to avoid foreclosure, short sale or VA Compromise Sale, HAP may be your best option.  Questions?  Give me a call.

It’s Wendy!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.

Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204

Email Wendy:

Eglin AFB Short Sales & Pre Foreclosure Help.

Read Wendy’s Eglin AFB Real Estate Blog

How Can You Make Your Fort Walton Beach Forida Home Sell Quicker and for More Money?

Do you think landscaping doesn’t make much difference in the curb appeal of a home?  Think again!  Look at the two photos below of a Fort Walton Beach Florida home I have listed for sale.







Isn’t the difference in the “Before” and “After” photos are striking?  In the Fort Walton Beach market area, this curb-appeal change may bring the homeowner $5,000 – $10,000 more in sale price.  The investment?  Only a few hundred dollar for wood chips and cleaning the exterior siding.  Sure, if this home already looked good, and just a few flowers were added, it might help with “salability”, but not so significantly dollar-wise.  But what if a home lacks any landscaping pizazz, and has perhaps overgrown bushes, weeds, and no obvious attention?  That’s when the return-on-investment can be huge.

Finally, buyers’ first online impressions can make or break the decision to see your home at all.  The more buyers who want to view your property – the more quickly it will sell. Since about 90% of buyers search for Fort Walton Beach Florida homes online, you need to pay attention to curb appeal!

It’s Wendy!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.

Call toll-free 1-877-ITS-WNDY (1-877-487-9639) or local 850-650-7883 ext 204

Email Wendy:

Fort Walton Beach Florida Real Estate

Fort Walton Beach Short Sales & Pre Foreclosure Help.

Read Wendy’s Fort Walton Beach Real Estate Blog

HAP – No HELP for Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field PCS

Flag U.S.


HAP, where are you?

HAP is the Homeowner Assistance Program for U.S. military members “who face financial loss” when selling their homes in order to PCS, or “permanent change of station” to a new base.  In other words, if you are an airman stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field or any other base and you have “orders” to move and your mortgage amount is more than the current value of your home- HAP is supposed to help you.  HAP was meant to help cover a significant portion of your losses so you can dispose of your real estate to PCS, even if you are upside-down in  your mortgage, without facing foreclosure.

But what is HAP doing?  I am sorry to say- NOTHING!  Thousands of servicemen have applied for help and many have already relocated – with no financial assistance. I have written a series of posts with information every time I get updates about the HAP program.  Each time I write a new blog, HAP changes its story and so far has done NOTHING to help upside-down Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field airmen who are forced to relocate to new bases.  On a previous blog I posted a link to the Department of Defense Directive that detailed the new HAP policy for PCS moves.  When I checked the blog links about a week later- I found the information had been REMOVED from the HAP site.   Further, the HAP site used to have an expanded FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section that answered many questions about the new PCS help.  Those questions have been since REMOVED.  But not before I quoted them in another post.

Our military members are good citizens and purchased homes when they moved to Eglin AFB or Hurlburt Field.  Now, forced to PCS, they are faced with a choice:

1. Rent out their property, for an amount insufficient to cover their mortgage payment, due to declining rentals.  Most military do not have enough to cover the shortfall.

2. Let the property go to foreclosure.

3. Do a short sale.

4. Bring money to closing to cover the loss- highly unlikely since most Fort Walton Beach, Crestview and Navarre Florida homes purchased in the last few years are $100,000 or more upside-down.

5. Wait for HAP while doing any of the above.

When HAP finally puts an assistance policy in place, these servicemen may get reimbursed part of the loss on their upside-down mortgages.  But my question is-  what good is a reimbursement after a lender has foreclosed or a short sale has been completed?  By the time HAP starts working, it would be too late.  There will already be a hit on the airmen’s credit.  HAP representatives have suggested to me that the affected homeowner “borrow” an amount sufficient to cover the loss in a short sale, then wait for HAP funds.  My question – “HOW can an airman who earns $50,000 borrow a $100,000 note to “cover” an upside-down mortgage?”  He cannot.

HAP, you’ve got to help…  NOW.

It’s Wendy!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, CRP, CRS, GRI, ABR     Rulnick Realty, Inc.

Emerald Coast FL Real Estate

Emerald Coast Short Sales & Pre Foreclosure Help.

Read Emerald Coast Real Estate Blog

Call toll-free 1-877-ITS-WNDY (1-877-487-9639) or local 850-650-7883 ext 204

Email Wendy to sell your home or buy a home:

Call Wendy Rulnick, Broker/Owner Rulnick Realty, to list and sell your home or condo on the Emerald Coast of Florida in Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County-  Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Crestview, Rosemary Beach, Mary Esther, Shalimar, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field.   Wendy is a short sale and pre-foreclosure specialist and has been featured in “Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine” and “Florida Realtor Magazine”.

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Emerald Coast Holiday Events 2016

Emerald Coast Holiday Events 2016

There are so many events happening between now and the end of the year, I have compiled an Emerald Coast Holiday Events 2016 list just for you!

Santa to arrive at Destin Commons with fireworks
November 18, 2016 6:00-8:00 PM
Santa Claus is coming to town at Destin Commons on November 18, 6 – 8 pm. At 7 pm, join in Santa’s arrival with a festive holiday celebration parade down Main Street and the official lighting of the center’s spectacular 50’ Christmas tree. Delight in a fireworks finale to kick off the holiday season. Activities and entertainment for the whole family include musicians playing traditional holiday favorites, kid’s craft projects, and free photos with Santa at Bass Pro Shops. Kids can visit Santa at Bass Pro Shops throughout the rest of November and December. Visit for Santa’s hours.

Baytowne on Ice
Everyday until mid-February
The Village of Baytowne Wharf
A seasonal ice skating rink with the first hour of each day reserved for kids 12 and younger.
(850) 267-8184 | dates/hours

The Nutcracker
November 18 & 19 – 7:30 PM; November 20 – 2:30 PM
In November, NFB will present their thirty-seventh annual performance of the brilliant holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. Performances will feature the return of international ballet stars Adiarys Almeida Santana and Joseph Michael Gatti in the principal roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince. Several other international guest artists, the NFB Company and over 100 local children round out the cast.
Mattie Kelly Arts Center, 100 E College Blvd, Niceville, FL | (850) 729-6000

Sparkling Wine & Holiday Lights
November 19, 2016 4:00-6:00 PM
The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Cruise the twinkling lights and greenery, as you sip a variety of champagnes with featured menu items from various Village restaurants.

Festival of Trees, Grand Boulevard
November 22, 2016 – December 25, 2016
Grand Boulevard’s seventh annual “Festival of Trees” will showcase 12 uniquely decorated Christmas trees from area non-profit organizations, November 22 – December 25 in Grand Park. The public is invited to attend the kick-off on Tuesday, November 22, 4:00-6:00 PM, as the trees are lighted, judged on their decorations and winners are announced at 6:00. A People’s Choice winner will be selected by the voting public that night as well. Refreshments will be served, making this a fun kickoff to the holidays for the entire family. The trees will be on display through Christmas and open to the public to enjoy at no cost. This free event is presented as part of the Coastal Culture calendar of events, made possible by Grand Boulevard Arts & Entertainment Program.
(850) 837-3099 |

Santa’s Arrival at HarborWalk Village
November 25, 2016 noon-4:00 PM
Santa makes his grand entrance to the Destin Harbor at their holiday season kick-off! Kids will enjoy free activities and can visit with Santa Claus! The event is free and open to the public. This day and evening is sure to get you into the holiday spirit!

Rosemary Beach Wine Spectacular Showcase
November 25, 2016 5:00-8:00 PM
Don’t miss the most spectacular event of the season as they transform the town into a winter wonderland of amazing sights and live entertainment! Rosemary’s greens will be filled with a bevy of characters that will amaze and entertain all! Take a photo in a life-size snow globe and enjoy dazzling performances from our cast of entertainers that include Stilt Walkers, Balloon Artists, Face Painters, Ariel Artists a Snow Queen, Fortune Teller and several spectacular shows to fill your evening with holiday spirit and joy!

Holiday Movie Night under the Stars
November 25 – 26, 2016 6:00-9:00 PM
The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Enjoy a holiday movie under the stars on Friday night followed by Santa’s arrival and tree lighting on Saturday night with fireworks over the lagoon.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Rosemary Beach
November 25, 2016 6:00-6:30 PM
Tree Lighting Ceremony on South Barrett Square. Don’t miss the excitement as we “turn on the town!” Enjoy musical performances by the Charles Dickens Carolers, see Santa’s big arrival and take a carriage ride through town.

Chautauqua Winery’s Christmas on the Lawn
November 26, 2016 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
364 Hugh Adams Rd, DeFuniak Springs
Music, free wine tastings, vendors.
(850) 892-5887

Breakfast with Santa, Rosemary Beach Town Hall
November 26, 2016 8:00-10:00 AM
Bring the kids to Santa’s Workshop for a magical morning filled with delight! Included are a boxed breakfast, a professional color photo with Santa and a special goodie bag from Gigi’s! Tickets are $15 per child (adults are complimentary) and are available at the door. (100% of money from ticket sales will be donated to a local Children’s Charity to help spread some holiday joy to children.)

Visit with Santa
HarborWalk Village
It’s time for the children to bring their wish list and visit with Santa Claus. All of Santa’s guest receive a special treat!

Sequins & Suits Auction and Wine Tasting
December 1, 2016 7:00-10:00 PM
Superior Residences at Bluewater Bay, 4595 Highway 20, Niceville
Silent and Live Auctions, Wine Tasting, Delectable Small Plates, Live Music, Festive Holiday fun and prizes! Benefitting Charities: Sharing & Caring and Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Inc.
buy tickets

12 Nights of Lights
Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday between December 2 – 31, 2016
The Village of Baytowne Wharf
A festive light show in the Events Plaza set to holiday music with shows at 6:00, 7:00, and 8:00 PM.
(850) 267-8117

Wednesday Night Concerts
Every Wednesday between December 7 – 21, 2016 1:00-3:00 PM
The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Every Wednesday in December come listen to the holiday edition of the Concert Series with a light show and Ole’ St. Nick. Free admission.
(850) 267-8117

Mattie Kelly Sounds of the Season
December 2, 2016 7:00 PM
Village Baptist Church, 101 Matthew Blvd, Destin
21st annual evening of spectacular holiday music.

Christmas In The Park and Navarre Community Christmas Parade
December 3, 2016 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Navarre Park at the foot of the Navarre Bridge

Navarre Jingle Bell Run-5K-Walk
December 3, 2016 7:00-10:00 AM
Bring out the whole family, even the dog, and start off the holiday season with the Jingle Bell Run 5k at Navarre Main Fire Station (behind McDonald’s). Race starts at 8:00 AM. Dress up for the season – a special prize will be awarded for the most festive participant.
more info and sign up

Santa’s Workshop, Navarre Conference Center
December 3, 2016 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
The Navarre Garden Club will again sponsor Santa’s Workshop Craft Fair.

Niceville Christmas Parade
December 3, 2016 10:00 AM-noon
Niceville Christmas Parade sponsored by the Niceville Valparaiso Rotary Club.

Santa’s Arrival at Silver Sands Premium Outlets
December 3, 2016 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Join Silver Sands Premium Outlets Saturday in the courtyard in front of Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH to greet Santa as he arrives on a fire truck. Enjoy photos with Santa, complimentary treats from Carrabba’s Italian Grill & Pino Gelato Cafe, coloring with Disney Store Outlet, face painting & crafts provided by Abrakadoodle and more! Be sure to bring your camera for photos with Santa. Sponsored by ZT Motors of Fort Walton Beach.
more info

Dig In! Holiday Brunch – Trees Destin
December 4, 2016 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Destin Bay House, 127 Calhoun Ave, Destin
Join Trees Destin as they Dig In! and celebrate the holidays at their brunch event. Proceeds will benefit the local non-profit, which is dedicated to improving the Emerald Coast’s tree canopy and enhancing the area’s beauty through planting, conservation and education. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children (age 10 or younger). Live entertainment will be provided along with a fabulous full brunch buffet, courtesy of The Local Market/La Paz; Bloody Mary Bar, sponsored by Timbercreek Distillery and Lulu’s Destin; and much more! The event will also showcase a fabulous silent auction.

Holiday Pops
December 9, 2016 7:30-9:30 PM
The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra’s 30th Season continues with their popular annual HOLIDAY POPS concert in the Mainstage Theater of the Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center in Niceville. Ring in the season with all your holiday favorites as the NFSO is joined by the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorale and the talented NWF State College Madrigal Singers and Belle Voci Women’s Ensemble. $25 adult/$18 Active-duty Military & Youth.
(850) 729-6000 | more info

Tuba Christmas
December 10, 2016 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
The Village of Baytowne Wharf
More than 30 brass instruments will play holiday music with entertainment for the kids.

Yule of Yesteryear – A Traditional Holiday Festival
December 10, 2016 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
The Spirit of Christmas will fill the air with musical performances from local choirs, musicians, dancers and historic theatrical performances. The Walton Guard Civil War Re-enactors will portray a living history in Perrine Park across the street from the Museum. Visit their camp and experience life as it was 155 years ago during the Civil War Christmas of 1861. There will also be historic craft demonstrations including blacksmithing, basket, seat and loom weaving. The museum will be open with free admission all day. Discover the history of Northwest Florida with exhibits about the areas first inhabitants, early industries including, fishing, boat building, turpentine and pioneer living. Kids will play and learn in the “Discovery Room” while everyone will enjoy “Paradise Gardens”. There will be ornament making for children, a holiday bake sale and free picture taking with Santa Claus. Feast on fabulous favorites and shop for unique one-of-a-kind gifts from talented art & craft vendors and find affordable stocking stuffers in the Museum’s Gift Shop.
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, 115 Westview Avenue, Valparaiso

Smooth Jazz and Jingle Bells
December 10, 2016 7:30 PM
Mattie Kelly Arts Center, Northwest Florida State College, Niceville
“A Peter White Christmas” with trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Euge Groove.

Tee Off for Toys
December 10 – 11, 2016 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Raven Golf Club / Baytowne Golf Club / The Links Golf Club
Donate new, unwrapped toys or gift cards with a value of $15.00 or more in exchange a game of golf with golf cart fee. Toys and donations will be given to Harvest House’s “Hope for Holidays” and Children in Crisis programs.
(850) 267-8155

Breakfast with Santa
December 10, 11, 17, and 18, 2016 8:00-11:00 AM
Grande Vista Bar and Grill, Emerald Grande
Ring in the holiday cheer and have breakfast with Santa Claus at Grande Vista Bar and Grill!

30th Annual Destin Harbor Boat Parade
December 11, 2016
Harborwalk Village
The Destin Harbor will be dancing with holiday lights and cheer during the 30th Annual Destin Boat Parade. Come enjoy live music, children’s arts and craft and hot chocolate! Visit with Santa Claus from noon-4:00 PM at HarborWalk Village’s Main Stage. Boat Parade will light up the harbor beginning at 6:00 PM.

27th Annual Destin Christmas Parade
December 13, 2016
The City of Destin presents the 27th Annual Christmas Parade! “Christmas Past, Present and Future” is the theme of this year’s parade that will travel down Harbor Boulevard.

Santa Pub Crawl with the Destin Nights
December 17, 2016 7:00 PM
Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village 10 Harbor Blvd, Destin
Dress in your Christmas best (tacky sweaters, Santa outfits, elves and more) and spread Holiday cheer through HarborWalk Village with cheerful drink specials at every stop. Passes can be purchased in advanced or on the day of the event.
more info

Dreamcatcher Vocal Performance Studio’s Make It Shine Concert
December 18, 2016 5:00-7:00 PM
Harborwalk Village, Destin
No instrument is more deeply moving than the human voice. Watch talented young vocalists perform at this stirring musical holiday experience.

Gingerbread Tea
December 22, 2016 1:00-3:00 PM
The Pearl Ballroom, Rosemary Beach
Bring the kids to The Pearl Ballroom for an afternoon tea and individual gingerbread house decorating!
$25 per Adult | $15 per Child | $25 per additional Gingerbread House
Reservations Required

Chanukah Menorah Lighting
December 26, 2016 5:30-7:30 PM
Enjoy a grand menorah lighting on the main stage with hot latkes, Chanukah music and kids activities.
more info

New Year’s Eve Street Party
December 31, 2016 – January 1, 2017
Park once and party all night with thousands! Celebrate with free live concerts by Flow Tribe and Departure: the Journey Tribute band, two fireworks shows at 8:00PM and Midnight, and the 9th Annual Ball Drop over the Harbor. This will be Destin’s most exciting place to be on New Year’s Eve!
(877) 443-4005 | more info

Bank of America DOJ Settlement – Avoid Short Sale – Foreclosure – Crestview FL

Bank of America Department of Justic settlement

If you have a Bank of America mortgage and are facing foreclosure, part of your principle may be forgiven if you qualify for the Bank of America – Department of Justice SettlementThis settlement was negotiated between Bank of America and DOJ to make reparation for past lending practices, primarily for prior Countrywide and Merrill Lynch mortgages.  Certain Florida homeowners will qualify for mortgage modifications, principal forgiveness, forbearance, or extinguishment of their home equity lines of credit.

I just had such a success story with a Crestview Florida home seller whose Veteran’s Administration (VA) mortgage was reduced by over $60,000, or 25% of the balance, as part of this program. He was notified of the opportunity during an attempt at VA Compromise Sale (type of short sale) of his Crestview home.  We had just received a contract for purchase, when the DOJ settlement offer came from Bank of America.  They proposed that he enter a trial mortgage payment period at a reduced interest rate and succeed at making payments for three months. Even though this was a stretch for him since he was in a VA Compromise Sale situation, we figured out that at the new principle balance, he could sell his Crestview home and actually make a profit!  He accepted the offer from Bank of America, and we changed the terms of the purchase and sale agreement to remove “short sale” and add a contingency for the successful completion of loan modification and principle reduction.  The buyer was more than happy to wait the 90 days, as that is about how long a short sale would have taken and the risk of approval was far less than with a short sale.  (I was happy to have less of a headache, too, without all the short sale paperwork!)

The question came up – “Could the seller actually put his property on the market and receive an offer during the DOJ Settlement trial modification period?” The answer was “yes” from Bank of America.  Sellers who receive this offer might be struggling to make their mortgage payments and have actually stopped making them, contemplating foreclosure or short sale.  This DOJ Settlement with Bank of America is a financial windfall for these sellers because it will  significantly boost their financial situation.

Do you qualify for the Bank of America – Department of Justice Settlement in Florida? You will need to call Bank of America at 1-877-488-7814 and ask them. If not, there may be other solutions for you to avoid foreclosure, reduce the impact on your credit, and possibly save your home with a different type of modification, or by doing a short sale.


It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy:

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, has been featured in “Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine” and “Florida Realtor Magazine”.  Wendy Rulnick sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Crestview, Rosemary Beach, Mary Esther, Shalimar, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Panama City Beach. 

7 Tips for Negotiating Your “For Sale By Owner” Contract

tips for negotiating for sale by owner contracts

You’ve been trying to sell your For Sale By Owner property for a while, and finally, there is an interested buyer! In fact, you just finished showing your home and he’s standing in the foyer by the door.  He said he really likes your property, and you can tell that he has an air of excitement he is trying to hide…. What should you do?

Here are considerations for negotiating your sale:

  1. CLOSING:  You say, “Well, what’s next?” Now be quiet!!!!!!!! You have just asked the buyer a closing question. This is the moment of truth.  Do not say another word, just allow your buyer “think”.  This is a professional sales technique. (Many a sale did not happen due to the interruption of the buyer when he was about to say “yes”.) Good news! The buyer, after an unbearable full minute of quiet, says, “I would like to offer you $530,000 for your home”.
  2. GET IT IN WRITING:  The buyer just made a verbal offer. What does it mean? Nothing, really.  Anyone can just toss out a number, but until you get it in writing in the form of a contract, there is no agreement.  The thoughtfulness that goes into a written offer is much more than words at the door.  On a contract, the buyer will have to specify exact financing terms, inspection periods, earnest money amount, closing date, and so on.
  3. PRICE IS NOT EVERYTHING: If a buyer offers you your asking price, would you take it? For example, would you still do so if he wasn’t going to close until his house sold?  Or would you take slightly less from another buyer who didn’t have a house to sell? Just a thought!
  4. EARNEST MONEY: Would you accept the buyer’s offer if he gave you no earnest money deposit? If you do, and he decides to cancel for no reason, you will have lost valuable marketing time and have nothing to show for it. The buyer has no “incentive” to stay in the contract if there is no  earnest money deposit.  You, on the other hand, have a lot to lose.
  5. HOME INSPECTION:  Is the buyer accepting your home “as is”, or will he require you to make repairs? Will repairs be determined by a professional home inspector? What if you don’t agree with the findings, what happens next?  Is the buyer’s repair amount reasonable? Most contracts have a repair limit, a method to counter home inspection findings and a time frame to inspect.
  6. FINANCING:  You already obtained a pre-approval letter from the buyer from a local lender, correct? Make sure the time period to obtain financing and terms make sense. For example, you don’t want to allow the buyer 90 days to get a residential loan, that’s far too long.
  7. OTHER CONTINGENCIES: There is so much more that goes into an offer other than price. I suggest you review a sample contract in advance and familiarize yourself with it. Then you will be prepared for any possible contingency the buyer may come up with. Believe me, you may be surprised!

For more tips on selling your For Sale By Owner property or a sample contract, give me a call!

“It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!”

Wendy Rulnick, Broker,  Rulnick Realty, Inc.
850-650-7883 ext 204


Selling Your Destin Home? Require Buyer Proof of Funds

buyer proof of funds home purchase


Recently I’ve had two situations near Destin Florida where a real estate buyer’s agent would not provide their buyer’s proof of funds with a contract on one of my listings. What is proof of funds? It may be either a bank letter or statement showing adequate cash available to purchase a property, or it could be a lender’s pre-qualification letter showing the buyer may be able to obtain a loan for the amount specified in a purchase and sale agreement.  A pre-qualification letter is not a final mortgage approval or even a pre-approval, but it’s commonly the best you can get prior to a buyer finding a specific home, when full loan underwriting is performed.

Why is it important to get proof of funds before accepting an offer? Because you will need to remove your house from “Active” status in the Emerald Coast Association of Realtor’s MLS once an offer becomes a contract. Most agents will not show their buyers your home nor will a buyer be interested if you already have a contract on your property, so you want to only take your property off the market with evidence that a buyer can complete his transaction. If he does not provide proof of funds, it could be cause for concern. Proof of funds is always required when a buyer is purchasing a short sale or a foreclosure. The short sale lender or foreclosing bank or entity will demand it.  I process many short sale listing transactions in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Niceville and Crestview and this is always the case. An individual seller may not require proof of funds, but I would advise against it.

I’ve had two recent Destin area listings where the buyers were well-known builders in the area. In each case the buyer’s agent either was afraid to ask for the builder’s proof of funds or the builder refused to provide it.   This really is unacceptable, as a builder is not above the standards of protocol for a real estate purchase. In the end, it is my seller’s decision regarding how they want to proceed. One buyer’s agent simply responded to my email requesting proof of funds: “Their money is solid as a rock.”  That’s not proof of funds to me!

It’s Wendy!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy:

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, is a short sale and pre-foreclosure specialist and has been featured in “Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine” and “Florida Realtor Magazine”. She has successfully helped hundreds of families avoid foreclosure through short sale along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Wendy Rulnick is knowledgeable in all aspects of short sale, including VA Compromise Sale, FHA HUD pre-foreclosure sale, HAP military PCS, HAFA, Bank of America Coop program and more.  She is also co-founder of and short sale instructor to agents across the United States. Wendy Rulnick sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Crestview, Rosemary Beach, Mary Esther, Shalimar, Panama City Beach, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field.