NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As if buying a home doesn't have enough headaches, the partial government shutdown has added another: likely delays in getting government verification of your Social Security number and tax return, both needed for the loan application. Even worse, borrowers seeking loans from the Federal Housing Administration are likely to find that a lack of staffing will put their application on hold. And after federal employees do get back to work, they're not likely to clear out the paperwork backlog overnight. Who knows how long it could take to get back to normal? People who already have applications in the works may have little recourse but to chew their nails and, if deadlines for mortgage approvals are missed, throw themselves on their seller's mercy. Since the seller usually wants to sell, postponing the closing might not be a problem. Unless, of course, another buyer has topped your bid in the meantime. mortgage rates have been drifting down, so there's a good chance a modest delay won't result in a higher rate on your loan. Again, the maximum rate you are willing to pay should be specified in the purchase offer. lock-in period for your mortgage rate. That's the period during which the lender guarantees the agreed-upon rate. Be sure to explore your options carefully, as there could be a cost to choosing a longer lock-in period. This should be a factor in shopping for a mortgage. It's always wise to be supremely well organized when buying a home or applying for a mortgage, and that's doubly true when there are unusual snags. So be sure to get lists from the lender, Realtor and title company of all the documents you will need and when, then get them all in hand. A delay in the government's role could cause a backlog with the lender and title company as well, and you don't want to make matters worse by not having a proof of income or some other document the moment it's required. The good news: not only are mortgage rates pulling back a tad, but the rise in home prices is slowing. So if paperwork snafus cause this deal to fall through you probably won't be priced out of the market -- you'll find something else.