Exploring Financing Options: Conventional Commercial Loans vs SBA Commercial LoansJuly 12, 2023 by X2 Mortgage
When it comes to financing commercial projects, businesses have various options available to them. Two popular choices are conventional commercial loans and Small Business Administration (SBA) commercial loans. Understanding the differences between these two loan types is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your business's needs and goals. In this article, we will compare conventional commercial loans and SBA commercial loans, highlighting their features, eligibility criteria, benefits, and drawbacks.
Definition Conventional Commercial Loans vs SBA Commercial Loans
Conventional commercial loans are traditional loans offered by banks, credit unions, or private lenders. They are not guaranteed or backed by any government agency. These loans are typically provided based on the borrower's creditworthiness, financial history, and the property's appraised value.
SBA commercial loans are loans that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, a federal agency in the United States. The SBA works with approved lenders to provide loans to small businesses. These loans aim to support and promote the growth and development of small businesses.
To qualify for a conventional commercial loan, borrowers typically need to meet strict criteria set by the lender. This may include having a strong credit score, a proven track record of business success, a substantial down payment, and a comprehensive business plan. Lenders also consider factors such as the borrower's debt-to-income ratio and collateral.
SBA commercial loans have specific eligibility requirements set by the Small Business Administration. Generally, businesses must operate for profit, be located in the United States, demonstrate a need for financing, and fall within the SBA's size standards for small businesses. Additional requirements may vary based on the specific SBA loan program being utilized.
Loan Amounts and Terms
Conventional commercial loans typically have higher loan amounts available compared to SBA loans. Lenders may offer larger sums of money based on the borrower's financial profile and the value of the property or project. Loan terms can range from short-term loans (typically less than five years) to long-term loans (up to 25 years).
SBA commercial loans have a maximum loan amount limit set by the Small Business Administration. The SBA doesn't directly lend money but guarantees a portion of the loan provided by approved lenders. Loan terms for SBA loans can be more extended, reaching up to 25 years for real estate loans and up to 10 years for working capital or equipment loans.
Interest rates for conventional commercial loans can vary significantly based on factors such as the borrower's creditworthiness, market conditions, and the lender's policies. These rates may be fixed or variable, providing borrowers with different options based on their risk tolerance and budget.
SBA commercial loans typically have lower interest rates compared to conventional loans. The SBA's guarantee mitigates the lender's risk, resulting in more favourable rates for borrowers. However, it's important to note that the interest rates on SBA loans can still vary based on the specific loan program, market conditions, and the lender's policies.
Down Payment Requirements
Conventional commercial loans generally require a higher down payment compared to SBA loans. Lenders often expect borrowers to contribute at least 20% to 30% of the property's purchase price or project cost. The down payment amount can significantly impact the loan-to-value ratio and the overall financing structure.
SBA commercial loans typically have more lenient down payment requirements. The SBA guarantees a portion of the loan, allowing approved lenders to offer lower down payment options to borrowers. For example, the SBA 7(a) loan program may require as little as a 10% down payment for real estate purchases.
Collateral and Personal Guarantees
Collateral is an essential aspect of conventional commercial loans. Lenders often require borrowers to provide valuable assets as collateral to secure the loan. This can include real estate, equipment, inventory, or other business assets. Additionally, personal guarantees from business owners may be necessary, making them personally liable for the loan.
While collateral and personal guarantees may still be required for SBA commercial loans, the SBA's guarantee reduces the lender's reliance on them. The SBA may accept business assets, real estate, or a personal guarantee from the business owner as collateral. However, the specific collateral requirements can vary depending on the loan program and lender.
Application and Approval Process:
The application and approval process for conventional commercial loans can be more extensive and time-consuming. Lenders typically require detailed financial documentation, including business financial statements, tax returns, credit reports, and a comprehensive business plan. The evaluation process can take several weeks or even months.
The application and approval process for SBA commercial loans can also be involved, but the SBA's guarantee streamlines the process. Borrowers must submit the necessary documentation, including business financials, personal financial statements, tax returns, and a business plan. The approval timeline may vary, but SBA loans generally require more paperwork and due diligence.
Flexibility and Use of Funds:
Conventional commercial loans offer borrowers more flexibility in terms of fund usage. Once approved, businesses can utilize the loan for various purposes, such as purchasing real estate, refinancing existing debt, acquiring equipment, or funding working capital needs. The lender typically has minimal involvement in how the funds are allocated.
SBA commercial loans have specific guidelines on the use of funds. Borrowers must adhere to the approved business purposes outlined in the loan agreement. The SBA is particularly focused on promoting job creation, economic growth, and supporting small business needs. Therefore, funds are generally utilized for activities such as real estate acquisition, equipment purchase, working capital, or refinancing existing debt.
Closing Costs and Fees:
Closing costs for conventional commercial loans can vary widely based on the lender and the loan structure. Borrowers are responsible for covering various fees, such as origination fees, appraisal fees, title insurance, legal fees, and other associated costs. These costs can add up significantly and should be considered when assessing the overall financing package.
SBA commercial loans also involve closing costs and fees, but they tend to be lower compared to conventional loans. The SBA limits the fees that lenders can charge, reducing the financial burden on borrowers. Additionally, the SBA offers fee waivers for specific loan programs, such as the SBA 7(a) loan program for certain eligible borrowers.
Both conventional commercial loans and SBA commercial loans have their unique advantages and considerations. Conventional loans provide flexibility and potentially higher loan amounts, but they require stronger creditworthiness, higher down payments, and collateral. On the other hand, SBA loans offer lower down payment requirements, more favourable interest rates, and government guarantees, but they have stricter eligibility criteria and more paperwork.