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Gas Station Loans - SBA Financing Just Got A Little More Tolerable

Over the years, SBA financing has been a staple of financing for dealers and operators. As the economy has worsened over the past few years, the petroleum retail industry has gotten even worse. With the fluctuation in fuel prices and our failing economy, foreclosures on gas stations and convenience stores have been at record highs.

Recently, the SBA had made financing for gas stations and conveniences virtually prohibitive. The SBA had required all stations older than five years to have a Phase II environmental and all transactions required a seller indemnification, regardless if there had ever been an environmental issue or not.

To add insult to injury, the SBA also required a separate business valuation from an independent company in addition to the appraisal.

Can we say "we really don't want to do gas stations?"

It should come as no surprise that the SBA adopted this posture. With high profile fraud cases from some non-bank lenders in the past few years, record default and foreclosures, it is no wonder they made them difficult at the least to obtain financing. In reality, the petroleum retail asset class was not significantly worse than other asset classes.

With the disappearance of a viable secondary market, most lenders have either ceased doing SBA loans or significantly cut back the amount of SBA financing they would do. Only the larger banks could lend and portfolio their loans.

Fortunately with the stimulus package in 2009, much, although not all, of these conditions have changed. First, the SBA will no longer required indemnification agreements on all transactions except those where environmental conditions exists and an open file exists with the State.

Secondly, the SBA will no longer require a Phase II environmental except in cases where environmental conditions exists and an open file exists with the State.

One can check through the State's DEP or DEQ to make sure that there is not an open file (meaning there has been leakage, spillage or migration reported) so that the chance of decline will be reduced significantly.

In addition, the SBA is now allowing lenders to base their loans off of LIBOR as well as Prime, giving the banks more options to make the loans more profitable.

With the streamlining of SBA operations out of Sacramento, California, SBA financing is still a legitimate source of financing. As usual, having a well put together package is part of the battle.

In 2009, temporary changes that will last to the end of 2009 are the waving of the SBA guarantee fee (which can be substantial) and the guarantee percentage will increase to 90%. This should give banks incentive to make capital available again.

Regardless of what type of financing you choose, make sure that when applying for gas station loans, you deal with people that specialize in this asset class and know both the lending and petroleum industries.

Harold Jaynes is with PetroMAC, the premier source for financing gas stations, convenience stores and truck stops. Visit our website at to learn more of financing programs and view the video about recent changes.

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