USDA loans frozen for home buyers and sellers due to shutdown
Some home loans are frozen and closings on homes delayed as a result of the partial government shutdown.
It's day 20 of a partial government shutdown and with each day that passes, the stakes are getting higher for home buyers and sellers seeking USDA loans.
"We feel like everything's going to open up hopefully soon--we hope. But if it keeps dragging on, we'll probably see a little bit of panic with people," Loan Officer Patty Becknell, with PrimeLending, said.
That's because the U.S. Office of Rural Development is closed, leaving people in the process of getting a USDA loan stuck. According to Becknell, 25 percent to 30 percent of the loans that come through her office are USDA loans but because of the shutdown, buyers and sellers needing to close on homes are at a standstill.
"We can still start a loan application and process it and do the appraisal, get it all ready, even run through their automated underwriting system. But we can't get an underwriter to physically sign off on a commitment until they're back up and running," Becknell explained.
She says it poses a pretty big issue for sellers trying to close and puts some buyers in a bind too.
"The sellers are probably feeling more about this than the buyer because the sellers are probably wondering 'well, how much longer do I have?' because they may have locked in an interest rate and that rate may be expiring," she told Channel 3. "If the buyer needs to get out of their apartment and they've terminated their lease, then you're going to find that's a little more stress on (them) unless they have a lease that's able to go month to month," she continued.
The longer the shutdown lasts, the more backed up she says the Office of Rural Development will be once it re-opens. Catching up on all the pending closings could take weeks.
Luckily, there are alternative loan options for people wanting a USDA loan. Becknell says it's relatively easy for home buyers to switch over to an FHA or conventional loan. She recommends USDA loan seekers in Tennessee and Georgia check with state-funded loan options first.