The congressional budget standoff has forced a government shutdown that could lead to more headaches than usual for clients, both buyers and sellers.
According to a CNBC report, buyers looking for mortgage approval could hit paperwork roadblocks if the shutdown furloughs workers at the IRS or Social Security Administration. This is what transpired during the last shutdown in October 2013 – a 16-day shutdown that sent millions of government workers on furlough and slowed the U.S. housing market.
For agents and brokers, clients could be facing slower approval. As anyone who has applied for a mortgage knows, the application includes a stack of paper documenting your financial status. This includes records like tax returns.
In most cases, lenders want to verify every single piece of paperwork, especially after the housing crash a decade ago when lenders were less diligent with documentation.
If a government shutdown drags on and includes workers at the IRS who are usually asked to verify the tax returns aspiring homebuyers submit to their mortgage lenders.
However, there are some IRS workers would be exempt from furlough, including those who provide essential services like making sure records are maintained and the computers keep recording tax payments.
However, while it seems important to agents and brokers, verifying information and processing mortgage paperwork isn’t considered “essential.” As a result, those employees would have to stop working.
If you have clients who are applying for an FHA or VA mortgage, they could run into delay if workers from those departments are sent home, leaving nobody around to process the loan.
A loan could also be delayed if a lender tries to verify a Social Security number. That’s often required if something in an application doesn’t match the information associated with a Social Security number in a credit report or other database, even if it’s just a typo. If the lender tries to verify the number with the Social Security Administration, and no one at the agency answers the phone, that borrower could be out of luck.
If a client can’t get approved by the closing, it is possible deals could fall through, however in most instances contracts are just extended.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, during the last shut down, about 17 percent of closings were delayed, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors. Few REALTORS® reported deals actually falling apart.
Ultimately, the government shutdown could present small challenges to agents and brokers. It is an issue that you should keep tabs on to see how it will impact your business.
A handful of transactions were scuttled, and a few sellers reported that they lost bids because of the shutdown. Some 3 percent said they got a weaker offer, likely because of the uncertainty buyers faced over the length of the furloughs.