The past two years it’s been hard for small businesses to get bank loans of any kind, much less favorable-terms, SBA-backed loans. Recent Small Business Administration loan figures show a 35 percent drop in the number of loans backed in the past fiscal year compared with 2008. Many small business owners have gone to their local banks, gotten turned down, and then don’t know where else to go.
From reporting previous stories on SBA loans, I know business owners don’t need to wonder where to get the best shot at an SBA loan. There’s a treasure trove of great local lending data available online. My personal starting point is usually the SBA’s own site, which has great local lending data, under the Local Resources tab. For instance, there are links to different reports, including the most recent monthly rankings for 7(a) lenders. This file lists each SBA-lending bank in the program within the local market, showing exactly how many loans each bank made that month and the dollar amount committed.
Finally, lower down on your local-resource page, find the SBA list of preferred lenders and compare those names with the ones on your lending-volume charts. It’s highly desirable to work with preferred lenders because they won’t have to ask SBA for loan approval; they’re empowered to make the decision at the bank level. That speeds up the loan process and clues you in that the bank has a well-established and positive relationship with the SBA. You can print this list out, get in your car, and know exactly where to go for your best shot at getting an SBA loan, fast.
Recently, though, I turned up another great resource for data on SBA lenders, just Googling around. For a good national perspective on who the big SBA lenders are, visit the Web site of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders. Right on its home page, on the lower right-hand column, there’s a list of helpful links to reports on SBA lending. The first shows the most active national lenders in the SBA’s biggest and most commonly used lending program, 7(a) loans. You can link to charts on loan volume and dollar volume.
Then you’re ready to look at trends. Which banks are growing their SBA loan business and which are cutting back? NAGGL’s site also links to an Excel spreadsheet where you can see year-over-year trends for the biggest 30 banks in the 7(a) program. With the next two links, you can compare lenders’ fiscal year 2009 loan volumes with their loan volumes for the previous four years. Every SBA lender in the country is listed, more than 2,500 banks.
If you want an SBA loan, these two sites offer great leads on where to go to find experienced SBA lenders who can expedite your loan application and get money into your hands fast.