Monday, February 28, 2011

SBA 7a Loan Providers in Georgia

A few years ago, before the demise of so many community banks in Georgia, I would have had a suitably long list for you. Now, with so many Georgia banks failing as a direct result of the meltdown in residential housing (they had too many loans to home builders in their portfolio), the list is much smaller. Many of the banks on the SBA's list of SBA-approved loan providers rarely fund 7a loans.

BB&T is an excellent regional bank that often acts like a community bank. I've worked with them in the past. They have a strong commercial lending department and respond quickly regarding loan status.

CIT Small Business Lending is an excellent source for 7a loans. They used to be the largest national SBA lender and the largest SBA lender in Georgia (in dollar amounts) but then they went through a bankruptcy. However, that bankruptcy was quick and well-organized. CIT exited in record time and is back to lending.

One Georgia Bank is a good small bank. They were formed in the last ten years but are doing well. They are a top SBA lender. I've seen the CEO speak at a few events. He's impressive.

SunTrust Bank funds a lot of 7a loans. Just remember it's easier with a large bank like SunTrust if you have a relationship with someone at the VP level or above. That will help you across the board but it is really crucial with a large bank.

Other good banks are RBC, First Chatham Bank (Savannah), and UPS Capital. Check the top 10 SBA loan rankings for Georgia (or your particular state) to see who the top SBA loan providers are for any given year. Be aware that this ranking also includes the SBA express loans which are significantly smaller than 7a loans. But you can use that list as a starting point. It's simple enough to contact the bank's SBA loan department and inquire as to how many of their SBA loans are 7a.

Be aware that some banks or loan officers will string you along for weeks not telling you they've rejected the loan. That's another reason for you to develop a good relationship with a senior level banker. The reason loan officers typically become unresponsive (i.e., not responding for three or more weeks) is the deal doesn't look good and they've been getting internal pushback or the deal will require a lot of additional support - guarantees, documentation, etc. - and they either have more pressing deals that are easier or they would just rather handle other duties than work on your deal. They haven't yet formally stamped your deal a "no".

If your banker has not responded in a week or two, don't get too concerned. If they're good, they probably have a number of deals they are working on, especially as the end of the quarter draws near. Bankers try to close loans by the end of the quarter to book the fees on that loan as revenue in the current quarter. If your deal just won't close by quarter end, you'll have to wait until their time frees up. This is normal.

If you dislike the responsiveness level and you think you have a good (or good enough) relationship with your banker, then pay them an unannounced visit. If he or she is not in, then just leave a nice note stating that you dropped by to get a status update, you know he or she is busy, and you'd appreciate just a 3-minute update. Otherwise, you should pursue a relationship with another loan officer at the same bank or with another bank altogether.

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