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Government backed loans help small businesses to own space

Many small business owners don't know that there are government-backed loans available for commercial property purchases. The program has been around since 1959 but has recently gained new traction among small business owners looking to improve their commercial space. Especially for owners who invite customers and clients into their offices, having a customized and comfortable space is an important way to support growth.

The government program helps business owners secure a loan with only a small down payment (10 percent) compared to privately financed loans (which require as much as 40 percent). The government backs a portion and the private bank backs a portion, as long as the business owners meet a set of criteria that includes occupying the space themselves.

The loans are serviced through the Small Business Administration. A spokesperson said that the purpose of the loans is to keep credit flowing to qualified borrowers even during tough economic times. In the three years since the recession officially ended, loans taken out under this program have risen by 16 percent each year.

Owner occupied spaces are typically less likely to default on a loan than those owned by investors; so many lenders favor those loan applicants in general.

With commercial property prices and interest rates at a record low, finding a new space can be just what many small businesses need to save money and bring in more revenue.

As with any commercial property purchase, prospective buyers should consult an experienced real estate attorney for advice on negotiating the best deal and creating leases for any tenants that they choose to share the property with.

Source: NPR, "With Gov't Support, Small Businesses Buy Offices," July 11, 2012.

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