Five Things to Know About SBA Financing When Buying or Selling a Business

By Walter McLaughlin, Banner Bank Senior Vice President and SBA Sales Manager

If you’re looking to buy or sell a business, it’s worth considering if your change-of-business transaction qualifies for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. With SBA financing, the bank provides a long-term loan at reasonable rates and fees and the SBA guarantees it—typically up to 85 percent of the loan. 

Why that matters: Compared to financing equipment or buildings—items that can be assessed in terms of actual dollars and how they will be used by the borrower—financing the purchase of a business is complicated. Most change-of-ownership transactions require many considerations: industry trends, the prospective owner’s experience, the business location, and the potential impact of changing consumer tastes, technology and competition, to name a few.

These transactions also tend to involve the transfer of a large amount of intangible assets (goodwill) to the buyer, adding an element of uncertainty. That’s where the SBA’s government guaranty comes in, mitigating the risk and making the loan more viable.

SBA financing offers other benefits, too. In many cases, working capital, equipment purchases and other uses of proceeds may be included in the loan. There’s no balloon payment, freeing the buyer from expending extra resources later. Plus, the SBA loan’s longer amortization—usually up to 10 years—helps with cash flow.

Here are five things to know when considering SBA financing for a change of ownership:

  1. It’s all or nothing – An SBA loan cannot be used to partially buy into a business. One owner can buy out another, or a new buyer can purchase an entire company. An existing business can even use an SBA loan to purchase another company, provided it’s for 100 percent of that entity.
  2. The buyer needs a business valuation – If $250,000 or less is being financed, the bank can perform an internal valuation. Above that, an outside appraisal is required at the buyer’s expense. Most business valuations take a couple of weeks to complete and cost $1,500-$2,500, depending on the company’s revenue, location, industry and other key factors.
  3. An SBA loan typically finances up to 75 percent of the purchase price – This helps ensure the buyer is invested in, and committed to, the project.
  4. The seller can carry part of the loan – If the seller is willing to carry a portion of the financing, the advantages may include favorable terms, a lower cash down payment for the buyer and potential tax savings for the seller. If the goodwill is valued at greater than $500,000, the seller will be asked to defer payments on their note for two years from the date of closing.
  5. The seller must exit, but may consult – The SBA allows the seller to enter into a consulting agreement for one year only.

As you consider this important transaction, it’s important to work with an SBA-Preferred Lender. Preferred Lenders have proven experience processing SBA loans, understand the nuances of this type of financing and can guide you through the transaction. Banner is proud to be recognized by the SBA Seattle District Office as the top lender in its category for five consecutive years.

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