After much anticipation, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published the new interim final rule for 504 debt refinancing programs as authorized under section 328 of the Economic Aid Act on July 29. The new rule is effective immediately. The updated regulations significantly expand the usefulness of 504 debt refinancing programs to assist small business recovery and growth.
Section 328(a) of the Economic Aid Act revises the conditions and requirements for refinancing debt under the 504 Loan Program as follows.
For 504 debt refinancing WITH expansion:
The amount of the existing indebtedness that may be refinanced as part of a 504 project is increased from not more than 50% to not more than 100% of the project costs of the expansion.
For 504 debt refinancing WITHOUT expansion:
Reinstates an alternate job retention standard – all existing jobs measured on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis can be counted as jobs retained by the refinancing project.
Qualified debt – must be at least 6 months old before the SBA application date to be eligible for refinance, reduced from 2 years old.
Additionally, the SBA is removing language allowing a loan to be eligible for 504 debt refinance if that original loan had been refinanced within 2 years of application date, as the SBA believes this is no longer necessary given the reduction in the debt seasoning requirement to 6 months.
Allows the refinance of existing government guaranteed debt – existing SBA policies related to refinancing existing 504 or 7(a) loans will apply (these are the same requirements that currently exist for the 504 debt refinance with expansion program), including the following:
- For an existing 504 loan, either both the third party loan (1st mortgage) and the SBA 504 loan (2nd mortgage) must be refinanced, or the third party loan must be paid in full.
- For an existing 7(a) loan, the CDC must verify in writing that the present lender is either unwilling or unable to modify the current payment schedule. In the case of same institution debt, if the third party lender or the Certified Development Company affiliate is the 7(a) lender, the loan will be eligible for 504 refinancing only if the lender is unable to modify the terms of the existing loan because a secondary market investor will not agree to modified terms.
- The refinancing of any federally-guaranteed debt will provide a “substantial benefit” to the borrower – minimum 10% savings on the new installment amount attributable to the debt being refinanced (same definition as currently used in the 504 debt refinance with expansion program); this is required now for all 504 debt refinance without expansion projects.
Current on all payments – Eliminates the requirement that the borrower must be current on all payments due for not less than 1 year before the SBA application date. Because the qualified debt now must be incurred not less than 6 months before the date of the 504 Loan application, the SBA no longer requires that the applicant be current on all payments due on the Qualified Debt for not less than 1 year before the date of application. In accordance with prudent lending standards, the SBA expects the Certified Development Company to consider whether the applicant is current on all payments due and the applicant’s history of delinquency in its credit analysis.