Beginning June 24, 2016, small businesses can apply to refinance existing loans for office buildings, warehouses and other major capital expenditures through the Small Business Administration’s 504 Refinancing Program.
The 504 Program is not new. It was part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and was quite popular. However, the program expired in 2012. Congress not only resurrected 504 in December, but also agreed to make it permanent.
According to Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the SBA, the agency has the authority to approve up to $7.5 billion for the regular 504 Loan Program and another $7.5 billion for the 504 Debt Refinancing Program.
The benefit to small businesses is potentially significant. Owners with high-cost debt can substantially increase their cash flow in many cases, particularly with existing adjustable-rate debt. The loan program makes it possible to also take out cash for expansion.
Many of the loans to be refinanced are expected to be real estate mortgages or equipment loans. The requirements include no late payments on the existing loan within the past year, a mortgage that is at least two years old and the owner must occupy at least 51 percent of the property.
Refinanced loans can also include business expenses beyond just rent and inventory. Other qualifying expenses include utility bills, insurance, business credit card debt and wages and salaries.
When the program was available from 2010 to 2012, more than 2,700 businesses applied for more than $2.5 billion in financing.
Here’s how the reincarnation of the 504 Program works: The financing is over 20 years for real estate or 10 years for capital equipment. The SBA program handles 40 percent of the financing with a bank or other private-sector lender accounting for 50 percent of the refinancing. The business must only come up with 10 percent.
Small businesses must apply for a refinancing through a certified development company. A list of the 270 CDC’s in the country is available on the SBA website.
According to the SBA, the effective interest rate on a 20-year refinancing in May, 2016, was 4.78 percent.