Government Shutdown Could Completely Screw Up Your FHA Mortgage Application

As the real estate market still continues to creep up out of the sinkhole that opened beneath our feet five years ago, home buyers have still been able to rely on loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. But if lawmakers in Washington can’t figure out a way to keep spending money in the very near future, the federal government would effectively shut down, putting pending FHA mortgages at risk of falling through.

FHA loans accounted for nearly half of all home mortgages issued in 2012, averaging around 60,000 each month. But that approval process will come to a grinding halt if there’s a shutdown next week, as only 3.8% of the entire Dept. of Housing and Urban Development staff will be allowed to continue working.

“FHA will be unable to endorse any single-family loans and FHA staff will be unavailable to underwrite and approve new loans,” writes HUD in its shutdown contingency plan [PDF]

This is also true, reports CNN, for loans backed by the Veteran’s Administration and for the rural development loans of the United States Department of Agriculture.

So if your FHA mortgage is still pending, the process will be delayed until HUD gets back up and running. A day or two won’t make much of a difference, but a lengthy delay could spoil some buyers’ plans. First-time and lower-income home buyers often rely on the lower down-payment requirements for FHA loans in order to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder. If an anxious seller backs out of a deal because of a delay in an FHA-backed loan, the buyer would have to start from scratch.