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.
At Stearns Lending in Santa Rosa, borrowers who can prove income through W-2 forms that can be verified by their employer are able to move forward, said Ann McGinley, a senior loan officer with the Santa Rosa mortgage lender.
"If you're a wage earner you're fine. But if you're self-employed, you're not fine and it will stop your loan," she said.
Self-employed borrowers — who include small business owners — people who own rental properties and those borrowing more than $520,950 are severely affected, she said.
Loans backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — which are made in all of Sonoma County except Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Santa Rosa — are also stalled because that department is closed. And immigrants whose legal status needs to be verified are also faced with delays.
US Bank issued a bulletin to companies that it lends through. It said: "A shutdown lasting a few days would cause slight delays or inconvenience in the ability to underwrite, close or fund loans however a long period would have more serious impacts."
Those impacts would extend far, said Thomas Duryea, president of Summit State Bank, where one small business loan worth $500,000 is now held up.
"If this goes on ... if financing and credit is stalled, that's going to have a negative impact on small businesses in general and on our community," he said.
Loan applications that are in now could run into difficulties if the shutdown goes into next week and borrowers who have locked into interest rates and other purchase terms lose out on those terms, said Rich Abazia, owner of Cypress Financial Mortgage, an independent mortgage broker in Santa Rosa.