Category Archives: Banking Servies

Refinance Your Conventional Business Loan into a SBA 504 Loan

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankThe SBA Debt Refinance Program is back! Does your small business have a maturing or high-cost conventional loan for real estate, buildings or equipment? The long-term, fixed rate financing available through the SBA Debt Refinance Program can help small businesses that face significant balloon payments, require financial flexibility or want to take cash out from appreciating assets for expansion.

Under the new program, small businesses that refinance into a SBA 504 loan can take advantage of lower rates, fixed for 20 years, to lighten their monthly debt payments, improve cash flow and stabilize operations.

These parameters can help determine whether this program might be a good fit for your business:

  • The debt to be refinanced must be at least two years old.
  • The debt to be refinanced must be current during the last 12 months.
  • Eligible small businesses can obtain up to 90 percent financing for secured debt and qualified business debt.
  • Eligible fixed assets include real estate and equipment.
  • Cash out for operating expenses, including debt consolidation, is limited to 75 percent loan-to-value.
  • Cash out can be used for eligible business expenses (salaries, rent, utilities, inventory).
  • Existing government guaranteed loans are not eligible to be refinanced.
  • The eligible debt being refinanced is for the outstanding principal balance.

Other conditions or qualification requirements may apply. 

For those considering applying for a new loan, we offer a variety of government guaranteed loan products that require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms, which can help bridge the gap for businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.

  • SBA 7(a), 504 and 504 refinance
  • SBA Export Express Export Working Capital International Trade
  • USDA Business & Industry Loans Food Desert Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
  • Export Import Bank of U.S.

If you would like more information on the SBA 504 Refinance Program or any of our government-guaranteed loan products, please contact Leticia Scearce, Senior Vice President/Government Guaranteed Lending Manager, at lscearce@biltmorebankaz.com or (602) 445-6511.

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Government Guaranteed Loans and Helping Businesses Grow

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankSecuring a business loan can be vital to a company’s growth or even survival. Senior Vice President Leticia Scearce, head of Grandpoint’s Government Guaranteed Lending division, shares some great loan options that are available through various government programs which can be facilitated by the Bank and its divisions, The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, Bank of Tucson and Regents Bank.

Q: What should people know about the government guaranteed lending programs that are available?

LS: Government guaranteed loans are there to help small- and medium-sized businesses, since these loans require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms. Government guaranteed loans can help bridge the gap for small- and medium-sized businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.  Also, many businesses that could qualify for conventional loans opt for government guaranteed loans instead because they require less money down and have longer terms. When opting for guaranteed loans, clients usually pay two percent more in fees for 10 to 15 percent cash down versus the 30 percent down for conventional loans.

The most well-known government guaranteed loan programs are those offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.  These loan programs can include financing for owner-occupied real estate purchase or construction, refinance, equipment, business acquisition, exporting and short term working capital (revolving lines of credit).

Another very attractive loan program is available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Eligible USDA loans can be for real estate and equipment (including renewable energy projects) in rural or farming areas and can have a loan term up to 30 years. In addition, there are a few subprograms under the USDA loan program umbrella that allow us to finance projects in urban areas that have a local foods component – food manufacturing, distribution, retail, etc. The USDA loan product is attractive because it offers the longest term of the government guaranteed loan programs; is more flexible in pricing and prepayment penalties; has less oversight with franchises and dealer agreements; and has less regulation overall. It needs to be mentioned that even though the program is offered under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the financing of eligible projects / properties under this program do not need to be agriculture related.  Rather, its availability is contingent on the current population levels of a specific census tract in which the business or property will be located.

Q: What is the current status of government guaranteed lending?

LS: We’re hitting record levels of government guaranteed lending as the economy is improving. One reason is that the banks’ lending standards for conventional loans haven’t changed much since the recession, which makes guaranteed loans more attainable and attractive.

Q: Have you seen any big changes in the government guaranteed lending programs that business owners should know about?

LS: We saw a big change recently in the SBA 504 program. This product offers low cash down and a 20-year fixed rate on the client’s second loan, which is financed by the SBA. The agency now allows the client to refinance existing loans on owner-occupied real estate and allows some cash out provisions, helping the small business owner access capital for long-term working capital.

Q: How do the members of the government guaranteed lending program for Grandpoint Bank and its divisions work together to assist clients?

LS: We are tasked with helping all our regions expand our government guaranteed lending, which is a combination of SBA loans, USDA loans and export loans. I’m based in Phoenix at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, along with Debbie Lindsay, our loan administrator. My team’s loan specialist/underwriter, Marchette Wesley, and portfolio servicer, Hector Palomares, are in California, and I travel to our offices throughout Arizona, California and Washington to train our staff about our guaranteed loan platform.  We assist our relationship managers in deepening their knowledge base with the different loan products we have available. We also train our credit staff so they can recognize when a conventional loan isn’t suited for a client and a government guaranteed loan could offer a great alternative.

Mark Phillips, Grandpoint Capital’s chief credit officer, and David Ross, Grandpoint Bank’s chief credit officer, and our regional bank presidents have been very supportive of our division and expansion.

Q: How is Grandpoint Bank, and its divisions, differentiating itself in this type of lending?

LS: Our Southern California and Vancouver, Washington markets do a lot of export business, so with our large geographic footprint and sizable lending capacity, we can target more middle market customers.   In Arizona, we have more rural opportunities, and thus the USDA programs are a great fit. We are already one of the top lenders in the state for USDA loans.  We are looking forward to expanding our footprint in USDA lending in all of our markets.   Seventy to 90 percent of government guaranteed loans don’t count against a bank’s legal lending limits, so we have more capacity to service larger companies as well.

Q: How did your career lead you to becoming the head of the government guaranteed lending division?

LS: I was drawn to SBA lending in 2007 when I was working in commercial lending at a community bank here in Scottsdale. I further progressed into this niche lending sector during the recession when the credit markets froze and guaranteed loans became even more essential. When I joined The Biltmore Bank of Arizona in 2011, I helped established the SBA department, and a year later I pushed for expansion into other government guaranteed loan programs such as USDA loans and export financing.  A diverse, more inclusive platform was important to our brand and to our customer base, and I was fortunate that key management at Biltmore trusted and supported my recommendations. In 2012, Biltmore Bank was acquired by Grandpoint Bank, and with the backing of a larger bank, it allowed us to expand our lending efforts even further.  Personally, Grandpoint gave me access to a larger platform with great management resources to help expand and develop this lending niche. Prior to the acquisition, our government guaranteed lending activity was small, but many of the banks acquired by Grandpoint around the same time had SBA loan portfolios, so my servicing and liquidation role increased. Soon thereafter, our senior management team decided to expand this niche of lending for the whole family of banks. I’m pleased to have a very amazing team. We all have to stay up to date on policies and procedures for all of these programs. This type of lending makes you a better banker, because it requires a complex level of understanding and mastery of detail; it makes you sharper.

Q: Are you involved in any civic work?

LS: I serve on the City of Phoenix Investment Advisory Board, which advises the city on its entire investment portfolio.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

LS: My husband and I are into cycling, and I love to hike. I also enjoy cooking and baking, and I’m a wine connoisseur. We have visited more than 100 wineries, and I’d love to become a sommelier someday. More immediately, I’d like to look at growth and loan opportunities in the wine industries throughout the various regions we serve. I also enjoy reading, gardening, and I am a big tennis fan!

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We’re Working with You to Battle Cyber Crime

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Since 2013, cyber criminals have attacked over 22,000 businesses via business email scams with losses totaling over $3.1 billion. Businesses of any size are vulnerable. Experts estimate that 80% of cyber attacks are avoidable through basic cyber hygiene.  By implementing a variety of safety and prevention measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of your business suffering losses due to cyber crime.

To help businesses understand the risks and the ways they can help protect themselves from this growing threat, we recently sponsored a cyber security seminar at Arizona Small Business Association’s Friday, Sept. 30 meeting. We want to share a few of the key takeaways from our panel of experts in law enforcement, information security and insurance. Here’s what we learned from Howard Miller, CRM, CIC, of L/B/W Insurance and Financial Services, and Chuck Matthews and Robert Meshinsky of WGM Associates.

  • Employee training throughout your organization is critical. Make sure you have clear policies about cyber security and that they are clearly communicated to your staff, contractors and anyone else who has the ability to expose your company to risk. Educate all of your employees about the risks of clicking on links in emails and sharing business information via phone or email with people they don’t know or trust.
  • Limit access to software to employees who really need it and make sure that each employee has their own log-in (don’t have employees share log-ins) so you can track activity back to a specific person.
  • Keep software updated regularly. Cyber thieves exploit vulnerabilities in older versions of software.
  • Use two-factor authentication to access your internet email and other sensitive applications such as online banking. Two-factor authentication requires you to use a one-time password in addition to your regular password, making it more difficult for hackers to hack.
  • Make sure your back-up files are capturing all of your critical data and that your employees are following your prescribed protocol for backing up their files. Also make sure you are backing up your files in a different physical location so you can use them in the event of a natural disaster.
  • Look at your third party vendor contracts to understand what cyber risk you might assume through your relationship with that vendor, particularly with cloud providers who typically accept little, if any, liability associated with cyber crime.
  • Take information security as seriously as operations and finance.
  • Create a VPN (virtual private network) to secure communications to your business network that are initiated by authorized employees using devices outside of your network.
  • Secure your wi-fi with a password and encryption.
  • Use different passwords for different sites and make them long and complex.
  • Check any existing cyber security insurance you may have to look for gaps or exclusions in the coverage. Business interruption is typically limited to physical causes so most insurance won’t cover business interruption due to a cyber attack.
  • Before your business is targeted by cyber criminals, establish a relationship with your local FBI office. They’re the lead federal agency for investigating these kinds of attacks.

For banking (online as well as offline), the following recommendations were made:

  • Use dual control for all ACH and wire transfers. Dual control means that another person or account has to authorize a transfer in addition to the person who initiates it.
  • Never trust wire instructions or other funds transfer instructions sent via email. Always call the person or company to verify the instructions.
  • Set up alerts that automatically notify you about log-ins, password changes, transfers, etc. This way if an unauthorized change is made, you know and can respond quickly.
  • Use Trusteer Rapport software (available free) to provide a secure web channel between your computer and the bank’s online banking site.
  • Use our ACH Fraud Protection Service, which enables business clients to review ACH transactions before they are complete and to choose to pay or return each item.
  • Use ACH blocks or restrictions, if you know you won’t be using these electronic payments, or if you want to limit ACH withdrawals to only specific vendors.

To address the risks of funds transfer fraud and cyber deception, our bank has also introduced a new way for our business banking clients to protect themselves through a first-of-its-kind cyber insurance group policy. The policy provides gap insurance, since most cyber crime insurance policies don’t cover losses for money sent out of a business banking account “voluntarily;” that is, when someone in your firm is tricked into sending funds to a cyber criminal posing as a trusted colleague or vendor. For more information on this policy, please visit grandpointinsurance.com.

Insurance Products are:
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Insurance Products are offered through Grandpoint Insurance Services, Inc., a non-bank insurance agency affiliate of Grandpoint Bank, and facilitated through LBW Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., an unaffiliated insurance agency.

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Introducing Our New Multifamily Lending Division

kim-karen-croppedWe’re happy to announce that we have expanded our service offerings once again.

Multifamily properties represent an important part of the housing market, especially as cities become denser and land constrained. Grandpoint Bank and its divisions, The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, Bank of Tucson and Regents Bank, now has a multifamily lending division, managed by Senior Vice President Karen Kim.

According to Karen, 2016 is expected to be another good year for the multifamily sector due to favorable demographic trends and economic growth, based on the Multifamily Outlook study completed by Freddie Mac.

“Demographically, the strong multifamily market is further bolstered by Millennials and empty nesters, who are increasingly choosing multifamily over single-family residences in many cities,” Karen says.

Karen’s multifamily lending team is comprised of experts in multifamily lending who have previously worked at institutions that have produced a large volume of multifamily portfolios for the past two decades or more.

Multifamily property owners and investors can access three-, five- and on a very limited basis, seven-year hybrid loans from our bank, as well as a six-month ARM loans. Qualifying properties include five or more units in Class A or B buildings, with Class C-type properties considered on a deal-by-deal basis. As portfolio lenders — meaning most of these loans remain with our bank — we have more control over our products and pricing, which is a huge advantage.

We’re working with a network of seasoned mortgage brokers throughout the markets we serve to educate them about how Grandpoint Bank and its divisions can help their clients finance or refinance properties up to approximately $15 million in loan value. Karen and her team are currently cultivating additional mortgage broker relationships in Greater Los Angeles area, San Diego County, Ventura County, Orange County, Portland, Vancouver, WA, Greater Phoenix area and Tucson.

Please contact Karen to inquire about becoming an approved broker with Grandpoint Bank.  You can also ask her to connect you to an approved broker already working with Grandpoint Bank.

Karen H. Kim, SVP, Multi-Family Lending Manager kkim@grandpointbank.com or (213) 542-2727.

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7(a) Loans: SBA’s Flagship Loan Program

Leticia SIn May, we published an article by our Vice President of Government Guaranteed Lending, Leticia Scearce, entitled What You Need to Know About Government-Guaranteed Lending, Part I, providing an overview of government-guaranteed loan programs offered by our bank. Here, Leticia delves deeper into SBA 7(a) loans. We hope this information is useful to you, and please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can answer any questions you may have.

Created under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act of 1953 (P.L. 83-163, as amended), the 7(a) loan program has become the most popular and largest program under the Small Business Administration. For FY 2015, SBA approved close to $19 billion nationwide in SBA 7(a) loans.

SBA 7(a) loans are government-guaranteed loans, which means that the federal government provides a backing on the loan to the lender. This guaranty can range from 50 to 90 percent of the loan and is driven by the specific 7(a) loan product. The guaranty reduces the lender’s exposure or risk in the transaction, thus allowing many businesses to obtain a source of financing alternate to a conventional loan. The lender originates, services, performs any necessary liquidations and must not only comply at loan origination with the SBA policies and procedures, but throughout the life of the loan.

Below is a summary of the general parameters of 7(a) loans.

Benefits

Term
  • Less equity/cash down payment, preserving cash
  • Longer terms than conventional
  • No balloons, fully amortizing loans, no need to refinance again
  • CAPLines (revolving lines of credit) can be renewed annually, up to 10 years max
  • Equipment- up to 10 years
  • Real estate- up to 25 years
Uses Loan Maximum/Fees
  • Purchasing, constructing, renovating commercial owner occupied real estate
  • Purchase/refinance equipment
  • Working capital
  • Business Acquisition
  • Expansion & Exporting
  • Max SBA loan is $5 million (includes existing loans to borrower and affiliates plus new loan request)
  • SBA guaranty fee determined by loan size (2%-3.75% of guaranteed portion)

While a business may pay more in upfront fees for an SBA loan versus a conventional loan, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Preservation of capital is one of the biggest advantages of SBA loans.

There is a subset of loan programs under the 7(a) umbrella, so it is important to inquire about the programs offered by the lender. In our next government guaranteed loan blog, we will discuss SBA 504 loans and compare them to 7(a) loans. In future blogs, we will also discuss various 7(a) sub programs we offer.   Please contact us at (602) 992-5055 for more information.

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Approved to offer SBA loan products under SBA’s Preferred Lender Program

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What You Need to Know About Government-Guaranteed Lending , Part I

By Leticia Scearce, Vice President of Government Guaranteed Lending at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona

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Business owners plan for expansion, purchases, re-structure and consolidation. Accordingly, they seek out financial institutions to facilitate their plans. Some owners are well prepared, having crafted a business plan, financial statements and tax returns, but few understand the structural components of the information the bank needs from a loan applicant. Those components are as follows:

  • Cash flow (repayment capacity)
  • Collateral available
  • The reason for needing the loan
  • Equity available
  • Amortization
  • Term (repayment schedule and other requirements and specifics of the loan)

Your banker needs this data to qualify you as a borrower and determine what loan program(s) will best fit each loan request. Fortunately, business owners have access to many advantageous government-guaranteed loan programs.

In addition to conventional financing, Biltmore Bank offers many of these various government guaranteed and participation loan programs. The most recognized guaranteed program is the Small Business Administration (SBA), but the largest and oldest is the Export-Import Bank of the U.S (EX-Im Bank). Other programs include the USDA Rural Development loans, Arizona Commerce Authority and other local and city programs. Through this series of government-guaranteed loan programs blog posts, we’ll examine each of these in more detail.

One of the advantages of government-guaranteed loans is that they allow businesses to secure a longer loan maturity time horizon – up to 25 years for commercial real estate while a conventional bank loan typically offers a maximum maturity of 10 years. Additionally, upfront equity for a government loan can be as low as 10 percent for owner-occupied commercial real estate, versus the 30 percent in conventional loans.

Our next blog post in this series will examine the flagship SBA 7a loan program. In the meantime, please contact Biltmore Bank to see how we can help with your business financing needs and to learn which loan program might be right for you.

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