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How Long Does It Take to Get an SBA Loan? An Expert Weighs In

Key Takeaways

  • In recent years, the SBA has streamlined the application process for SBA loans.
  • A Preferred Lender does not require approval from the SBA, making the process faster.
  • Having the required documentation for your application and being knowledgeable about why you need to borrow can also expedite approval.

By Gina Gallagher | Citizens Bank Contributor

In business, timing is everything. So when you want to capitalize on an opportunity to purchase inventory, a new facility, or even a whole new business, chances are you’ll need fast access to capital. With lower rates and easier qualifying requirements than those of traditional loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are often the perfect solution.

But how long will it take to get that SBA loan?

To explain the approval timeframe and the factors that impact it, we spoke with Citizens Bank Business Development Officer and SBA specialist Daniel Mass.

“In recent years, the SBA has really streamlined the approval process to help businesses get the money they need faster. At Citizens, for example, we can get an SBA loan approved and closed within approximately 45 days,” said Mass.

One reason for that efficiency is that Citizens — like many lenders around the country — is part of the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program (PLP). This status allows financial institutions to approve loans on behalf of the SBA without requiring SBA approval, thereby eliminating a big step in the approval process.

In addition to a lender’s PLP status impacting the timeframe for approval, the borrower can also impact how quickly an SBA loan can close. “You need to be an organized, educated, and motivated borrower,” said Mass. According to Mass, that requires having all the required documentation and information the lender requires upfront, such as financial statements, cash flow projections, and personal and business tax returns. In the article 5 Important Steps to Take When Applying for an SBA Loan, Citizens Bank SBA specialist Robert Camara discussed what borrowers should do to prepare, including determining the exact purpose for which you’re borrowing as well as the loan amount. Mass concurred with that advice: “You really need to understand the loan transaction.”

Another factor that may impact the length of time it takes to get an SBA loan is the loan type. “Loans involving real estate or business purchases may take longer since lenders will require additional information from third-party providers, such as real estate appraisers and companies that perform business valuations. At Citizens, it usually takes about an additional two weeks for us to get the information back. SBA loans not involving real estate, such as a line of credit, can be underwritten within a week from when the documentation is submitted. Those that involve real estate appraisals can take an additional three weeks,” said Mass. He does advise borrowers to expedite the process by being available when the appraisers want to see the property or access records.

A motivating factor you

The process of getting an SBA loan approved is generally no longer than that of a traditional business loan. Remember, you can make the process even faster by being prepared, choosing a Preferred Lender, and allowing third-party companies access to the property or information they need.

Ready to apply for an SBA loan?

Learn more about SBA loans. As a Preferred SBA lender, Citizens offers a streamlined application and fast decisions. We will, however, take the time to listen and understand your business and help you find the solution that works for you.

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