New SBA Program for Commercial Real Estate Owners

There has been lots of talk over the last few years about significant disruptions in the commercial real estate market. Large balloon payments on mortgages are coming due and the ability to refinance is not always available due to declining property values and reduced rent rolls. Fortunately, the commercial real estate market has not suffered as badly here in Massachusetts as it has in other parts of the country. Also, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has set up a new program to help small commercial real estate property owners refinance their existing mortgages. The following excerpts a realease on the SBA’s new program guidelines.

Small business owners with eligible commercial real estate mortgages maturing after Dec. 31, 2012, will be able to secure more stable, long-term financing through the SBA’s temporary 504 refinancing program. This new program will be available around April 6.

In February, SBA implemented a temporary refinancing program enacted under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which allowed small businesses facing maturing commercial real estate mortgages or balloon payments before Dec. 31, 2012, to refinance with an SBA 504 loan. The SBA change will lift the date limitation and will allow more small businesses to secure stable, long-term financing and avoid potential foreclosure on mortgages approved before and during the recession that were based on inflated real estate values.

To be eligible for the temporary 504 refinancing program, a business must have been in operation for at least two years, the debt to be refinanced must be for owner-occupied real estate and have been incurred no less than two years prior to the date of application and the proceeds used for 504-eligible business expenses, and payments on that debt must be current for the last 12 months.

The refinancing loan is structured like SBA’s traditional 504 loan. Typically, a 504 project includes three elements: a loan (or first mortgage) secured with a senior lien from a private-sector lender covering 50 percent of the project cost, a second mortgage secured with a junior lien from an SBA Certified Development Company (backed by a 100 percent SBA-guaranteed debenture) covering up to 40 percent of the cost, and a contribution of at least 10 percent equity from the small business borrower.

Borrowers are able to refinance up to 90 percent of the current appraised property value or 100 percent of the outstanding mortgage, whichever is lower, plus eligible refinancing costs. Loan proceeds may not be used for other business expenses. Existing 504 projects and government-guaranteed loans are not eligible to be refinanced.

Under the Jobs Act, Congress authorized SBA to approve up to $15 billion in loans under this program ($7.5 billion in both fiscal years 2011 and 2012). Together with the first mortgage, this temporary program will provide up to $33.8 billion of total project financing. SBA’s traditional 504 loan program is a long-term financing tool, designed to encourage economic development within a community. A 504 loan provides small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire major fixed assets for expansion or modernization.

Source:  Boston Globe

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