Thursday, February 11, 2010


WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama unveiled several proposals this week aimed at helping small business owners. The proposals will expand two critical Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs, one of which could help some in the commercial real estate industry.

One of the new SBA initiatives will temporarily allow for the refinancing of owner-occupied properties under the SBA 504 program, which provides guarantees on loans for the development of real estate and other fixed assets but could not be used to refinance maturing debt up until this point. Under the new initiative, businesses with a loan maturing in the next year, and who are current on their loan payments, will be able to refinance up to 70 percent of the current property value, with the SBA helping with the remainder. For less established lenders, the SBA will take on up to 40 percent of the property's value for the refinancing.

The program will be funded through additional fees for refinancing projects instead of through a Congressional appropriation. The refinancing proposal will help refinance up to $18.7 billion a year in commercial real estate that would otherwise be foreclosed on or liquidated.

In a statement, SBA Administrator Karen Mills said, "Thousands of good, creditworthy businesses find themselves caught by declining real estate values as a result of the recession. With many of them now facing mortgages coming due in the next few years, the ability to refinance into SBA's 504 loan will give them the chance to lock in long-term, stable financing, as well as protect jobs by protecting small businesses from foreclosure."

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