THE BIG WOODS—Tougher lending standards from Fannie Mae have made it impossible for Pa to get a mortgage for the Little House on the Prairie.
Since Charles “Pa” Ingalls is a self-employed hunter/trapper/farmer, he now has to supply two years of tax returns instead of one. Unfortunately for the Ingalls family, news of the Revenue Act of 1861 never made it up to rural Wisconsin.
“All I need are a couple logs,” says Pa, who is now considering turning to wildcat payday lender Mr. Edwards for assistance. Pa says, “All he asks as a down payment is for me to play my fiddle so he can dance.”
Pa has a respectable FICO score of 730 thanks in part to a wave of fever ‘n’ ague that wiped out most of his creditors. Despite that, because Indian Territory has not yet been opened to settlers, banks are wary about lending there for fear of putbacks.
Fannie Mae, which purchases some 90% of mortgages from banks, has the right to “put back” (make a bank buy back) a mortgage even if the Army has already forced the homeowner to leave the land.
Caroline “Ma” Ingalls has wanted to move ever since she and daughter Laura “Laura” Ingalls started seeing bears move into their current neighborhood. “At first I thought they were cows,” Ma says, “until I tried to milk one.”
Mortgage or no mortgage, the Ingalls family must move. “We already sold the house in the Big Woods, so I’m not sure now where we’ll live next,” says Pa. “Looks like we’re up Plum Creek without a paddle.”