For Mike and Michelle Locke of Rock Island, the government shutdown has become personal.
The Lockes are in the process of closing on a new home. Because it is located in Andalusia, they qualified for a rural development loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But loan processing has been halted because of the shutdown, leaving the Lockes and other Quad-City buyers not sure when — or if — they will be unpacking their belongings in new homes.
The USDA program is the only government loan program to be shut down, Todd Tholl, branch manager of Equity Loans, Davenport, said. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, FHA and VA loans are still going through. He was told that is because USDA funding was not allocated before the shutdown.
The Lockes' closing originally was scheduled for Oct. 18, but was moved to Oct. 31. That is the day they need to vacate the house they rent. If the shutdown is not over by then, Michelle Locke said, they are not sure what will happen.
"After the 31st, we have not fulfilled that part of our contract," she said. "And if the shutdown ends, I do not know if they will rush (the loans) on through."
The loan does not require them to make a down payment. Instead, they put up $1,000 in earnest money that could be lost if the deal falls through.
"I never would have guessed that I would be affected by the shutdown," Mike Locke said. "Now, I am thinking how weird that something like this would affect me.
"If it gets to the point this is not going to close, I will see if the seller can wait for us and work with us, if he would be willing to rent the house to us for a month or two months.
"This is something beyond my control, and I don't like that," he said. "It is the lack of control that causes the most stress."
Their real estate agent is Dan Metzger of Keller Williams Realty Greater Quad-Cities, Davenport. He is hopeful things will work out for the Lockes and others facing the same shutdown-related problem.
"We will have to wait another week until we know what we need to do," he said. "I talked to the listing agent today and discussed that possibility (of renting). This is new ground, new territory. But she thought the seller would be agreeable to keep the deal going."
Tholl, of Equity Loans, said he has 11 other buyers facing problems similar to that encountered by the Lockes.
"The tricky part of this, everybody is in limbo," he said. "When people go back to work and get these loans going again, we don't know how long it may take. It could be that for every day the government is shut down, it puts the government behind a day.
"I've got about a dozen of these pretty much in same situation as the Lockes," Tholl said. "We already have negotiated extensions for some. But they are still in limbo. I am not getting much sleep either because my phone is ringing off the hook. They want answers."
The Lockes are from Grand Rapids, Minn. Mike served in the Marines, and Michelle worked 14 years as an X-ray technician. About 18 months ago, Mike was transferred to the Quad-Cities. They have three children: Hunter, 10, Peyton, 8, and McKenzie, 4.
Michelle said that 6 1/2 years ago, she fell on ice and has had three shoulder surgeries since. Eventually, she will have shoulder replacement surgery. In the meantime, she is unable to work. So the two-income family became a one-income family, but they still found their perfect home.
"We had been looking seriously since last March and more seriously this summer," she said. "It took a while to find what we were looking for ... three-bedroom, nice, finished basement, a nice backyard for the kids and dog and close to the Quad-Cities so my husband did not have so much of a commute.
"We both knew right away that we were going to live there. It was such an exciting feeling and I don't want to lose that. If it was just Mike and I, that would be one thing. But when you have three kids, it's scary, and it is stressful. There are so many emotions that go with it."