Sellers seek less delays in JHAP application process
JOPLIN, MISSOURI -
City officials say those who qualify for the Joplin Homebuyers Assistance Program receive, on average, $28,000 in assistance.
However, local realtors say the application process for that funding is seeing some delays, and many would like to speed up the process where possible.
It was discussed at the Joplin City Council meeting tonight.
For the past couple years, city officials say the JHAP program has proven to be a highly effective incentive for selling rebuilt houses in the tornado zone.
"The people who are moving back in, who income qualify, can get assistance with their down payment and their closing cost up to $30,000," said Patty Heagel, Community Development Block Grant project coordinator for the City of Joplin.
Some say, however, the process of getting approved for that assistance is increasingly lengthy, affecting realtors, who are unable to guarantee when a buyer will be able to close on a house.
"We've had stories of it sometimes taking up to 4 months," said Doug Hunt, owner of Doug Hunt Consulting. "What I would really like to do is explore some ideas for all of us to come together and see what we can do, what we have control over to tighten that up."
More than 280 homebuyers have received over $7.4 million in assistance through the program since it began in October of 2013.
City officials say the amount of time it takes for each applicant to get approved varies.
"Some of those steps are going to take longer than others, but I can assure you, our goal is to get as many qualified applicants into homes in the recovery area as quickly as possible," Heagel said.
"The council has the power to come up with some solutions to get this moving along," Hunt said.
One of the immediate steps determined by city officials is to work towards better communication regarding the expected timeline for receiving assistance.
"I think what we could do better is communicate the process to the applicant, and also to the lenders and real estate agents that are also involved with these projects," said Troy Bolander, planning and development director for the City of Joplin.
City officials say there are still plenty of opportunities for prospective homebuyers to receive assistance.
More than $12 million is currently budgeted for the JHAP program.