Loan applicants in Sonoma County feel pinch of government shutdown

The partial shutdown of the federal government has sent tremors into the market for mortgages and business loans, with some borrowers' applications halted because the Internal Revenue Service has stopped verifying income information by issuing tax return transcripts.

The extent of the problem seems to vary in Sonoma County, with some lenders feeling it more than others.

"There's no loan not being affected," said Mike Rooney, sales manager at the Santa Rosa office of Commerce Mortgage, which does $150 million a month in home mortgage loans nationwide.

At Redwood Credit Union, none of its loan products are impacted, said Michael Downey, senior vice president of business services.

"We were very successful in getting all of those loans in our pipeline approved prior to the shutdown. We're not expecting to see any issues," he said.

But at Exchange Bank, six business loan applications that together represent about $8 million are stalled, said Sherrill Stockton, a senior vice president who heads the bank's Small Business Administration lending program.

The loans were approved by the SBA, she said, because the bank purposely submitted the applications before the end of the federal fiscal year, but they cannot be closed without the tax verification.

"We have to make the decision: Do we close the loan and do the verification (of tax returns) later, and take care of the customer and take the risk as a bank, or do we wait?" Stockton said. "We're just holding our breath that we don't have to make those tough decisions."

Commerce Mortgage decided Thursday to approve loans without the IRS verification on a case-by-case basis, Rooney said, "just to keep things moving."

Other lenders said their companies have also adjusted in some cases.

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