What Is an SBA 504 Loan, and How Much Can You Get?

SBA 504 Loan
5
min read
October 28, 2022

As a small business owner, you might be at the point where you’re thinking about growing your business. That’s good news, right?

Except you might be wondering how, exactly, you’re going to fund all that growth. Thankfully, there is one loan in particular that has a lot of pluses—the SBA 504 Loan.



We’ll go into exactly what this loan entails, who qualifies and how it can benefit your business. So, let’s get started!

What Is an SBA 504 Loan?

An SBA 504 loan is a long-term, fixed-rate loan offered by Certified Development Companies and backed by the U.S. government. 

These small business loans can be used for real estate and equipment purchases, or for modernization and expansion. The ultimate goal is to promote job creation and economic development.

The typical 504 loan works this way:

 

The loan amount is capped at $5 million, unless it’s a manufacturing loan or the building meets certain energy efficiency requirements; in that case, business financing can be as much as $5.5 million. 

The length of the loan can be 10, 20, or even up to 25 years, depending on the purpose of the loan. For example, all 504 loans for real estate have a term of 20 years. 

While the SBA 504 loan program is part of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the SBA does not make the loan—rather, it guarantees the loan, meaning that if you default, the federal government will repay the loan up to 40% of its value. What that means for you is that getting the loan will be easier. Because the federal government guarantees the loan, lenders are far more likely to lend to you.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for an SBA 504 Loan?

When it comes to the loan application process and loan eligibility, you should find that the requirements are pretty easy to meet. In fact, the 504 program is designed for businesses that cannot easily obtain reasonable terms on financing without the small business administration.

 

To be eligible for an SBA 504 loan, the SBA and the U.S. Treasury mandate that small businesses meet specific requirements:

 

What Can You Use an SBA 504 Loan For?

A 504 loan can go toward assets you need to grow your business. 

These assets include:

 

Loan proceeds cannot be used for:

 

The Benefits of an SBA 504 Loan

This loan is made by specific private lenders to small businesses. It is unique for a few reasons:

 

Can Businesses Younger than Two Years Old Get a Loan?

As indicated, flexibility is a hallmark of this loan program and as such, there are times when startups or small businesses otherwise in business for less than two years are eligible for a loan. They are when: 

 

 

In that case, owners will be expected to pony up a 15% equity contribution, as opposed to 10%.

Finding an SBA 504 Lender

Since the federal SBA is sticking up for you and willing to guarantee 40% of your loan, the risk to a lender is less, and therefore, those lenders are willing to lend more easily, even if you don’t have a perfect credit score for example.

 

What a potential borrower needs to do, therefore, is find a lender that specializes in SBA loans, known as a Certified Development Company (CDC).

A CDC is an SBA-affiliated nonprofit lender that offers affordable financing to small businesses. They’ll process your application, coordinate the financing you’ll need and send your package to the SBA.

Across the U.S., there are approximately 260 CDCs. You can find a CDC near you here.

Some documents you’ll need include:

SBA 504 Loans vs. SBA 7(a) Loans

As indicated, the SBA guarantees all sorts of loans, the CDC/504 loan program being just one. Another similar loan is called the 7(a) loan. Here’s how these two loans compare:

Similarities

Differences

So, Is an SBA 504 Loan Right for Your Small Business?

There is a lot to be said for 504 loans. For starters, the down payment is usually low at 10%. Beyond that, the loan’s competitive, fixed rates remain that way for the entire term of the loan, which makes them additionally attractive. 

And finally, the fact that long-term financing can go up to 25 years is no small thing either; debt servicing is much easier when spread out.

 

There really are very few downsides to speak of with SBA 504 loans, so we won’t speak of any. If you need money for real estate or business equipment, the 504 loan is likely a good way to go.

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