Government shutdown has created backlogs in home loan applications

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) — The government shutdown has ended, but backlogs in many federal systems are continuing to cause problems in several areas, such as the home buying process.

Josh Dix has been selling homes for a few years now. He's seen it all when it comes to the housing market, but was left feeling the effects of the nation's longest government shutdown.

"When you have one less tool to use and the sellers have one less option as a buyer to come to them," he said, "it can make it more difficult."

Dix is taking about loans: specifically a rural, single family home loan from the USDA. It's popular among first-time home buyers.

Mortgage Banker Shane Whisnant, with Atlantic Bay Mortgage, told reporters last week the shutdown was effectively shuttering loan processing.

"Anybody purchasing a home with a USDA mortgage, since the government shutdown has not been able to close their loan and purchase the home," he said.

Whisnant told us that when he could, he began switching buyers to other types of loans. But that's not always possible.

"If I have clients come to me and would like to utilize that program and is not available and we can't maybe fit them with another similar home type," Dix said, "it's going to delay their home search."

USDA loans are able to be applied to homes in a vast portion of the Shenandoah Valley and southwest Virginia, only excluding population centers like Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro. Prospective home buyers can look into if homes on their list are USDA-eligible here.

Though the government is now open, problems remain. According to Whisnant, a USDA update he received stated the department is reviewing files received prior to December 21st. He's been told USDA is reassigning staff to help work through the backlog. But he suspects it'll take one to two months to work through it all.

In the meantime, home-buyers hoping to use that loan system have no choice but to wait.

The local USDA office in Lynchburg declined to comment. Information from the statewide office was not able to be delivered by the time this story was published.

Backlogs in government agencies affected by the shutdown are also affecting local breweries.