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Shutdown Halts Housing Recovery

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WHITEFISH -

Right off the heels of a recent recession and recovery, the Flathead housing market is at a stand-still during this government shutdown.

John Middleton, a realtor in the business for more than a decade, is getting some mixed signals.

"The general consensus is that those types of loans which are a huge part of our market right now are generally being held up," said Middleton.

Government-backed loans typically make it easier for lower income and first time home buyers to take that next step.

"Outside of the luxury market, they're the driving force in lending right now in the Flathead Valley," explained Middleton.

With the government shutdown, the housing market in the Valley is in limbo. Every loan taken out for a single family home requires a tax transcript from the IRS, meaning even traditional loans such as RD loans and FHA loans, in addition to government subsidized loans, are on hold as long as federal loan officers are furloughed.

"Active buyers have seemed to back off the gas a little bit," observed Middleton, "They're not pursuing properties as aggressively as they may have."

Scott Fair already owns two properties in Whitefish. He is concerned, though, about possibly taking on a third in the middle of a government shutdown.

"We'll look at properties and opportunities," said Fair "but it would have to be an extremely attractive deal to take the risk on right now."

Both Fair and his wife work from home and use money earmarked for their retirement to fund their real estate purchases. Before the shutdown, his rental property tenants were talking about buying the house on Birch Court. Now, that talk has fallen silent and Fair does not think he will be rolling the dice anytime soon.

"I hope things get resolved and the markets stabilize and the growth continues that we've been experiencing recently," said Fair, "Then, I would feel better about diving back in."

Middleton also mentions that less people will see and take an interest in the Valley-- as a potential new home or second home--since Glacier National Park is closed.

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