Federal Housing Programs and Services Are Temporarily Back in Action

by Steve CookJanuary 29, 2019

On Friday, January 25, President Trump ended the federal government shutdown for a three week period. Congress is passing spending bills that the president will sign to restore normal operations at a series of federal agencies from Monday, January 28 until Friday, February 15. The 80,000 federal workers who were furloughed or forced to work for free for 35 days will receive back pay covering the 35 days the government was partially shut down.

Below is a short list of federal programs that are particularly important to consumers and professionals in real estate and finance. FHA, USDA, IRS and Social Security field offices will be open during the three week period to handle calls.

FHA.  During the shutdown, FHA continued to approve applications for single-family homes and condominiums if they did not require an FHA staffer to review them. Now FHA will be fully staffed and it will begin to work on the backlog of applications that were delayed. Since the shutdown may return after February 15, homebuyers and homeowners who have been waiting during the shutdown should check with their lenders to get their applications for guarantees into FHA immediately.

All other HUD offices and programs will be open during the three-week period. See the Federal Housing Administration for more information.

USDA. Rural Development guarantees any direct loan programs for rural housing stopped during the shutdown.  Approvals resumed Monday, January 28th on backlogged applications, so if you haven’t yet applied, expect a delay.

See the USDA for more information.

FEMA Flood Insurance.  Applications for FEMA flood insurance were initially stopped when the shutdown began. When housing industry groups protested, FEMA called in a skeleton staff to process applications during the shutdown. Now that FEMA is open again, applications flood insurance will be handled more rapidly.

See the National Flood Insurance Program for more information.

IRS and Social Security. All mortgage applications require lenders get recent tax returns from the IRS and to validate citizenship from the Social Security Administration.

Contact the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders or the Morgage Bankers Associaton for more information.

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About The Author
Steve Cook
Steve Cook is editor and co-publisher of Real Estate Economy Watch. He is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and writes for several leading Web sites, including Inman News. From 1999 to 2007 he was vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Realtors.