Keys to Getting SBA Assistance: Persistence and Patience

April 23, 2020

Feeling frustrated or simply flummoxed in your efforts to obtain emergency assistance through one of the Small Business Administration programs offering support for business owners and independent contractors? In a new video, four REALTORS® discuss their experiences and offer tips for working with SBA-approved lenders and completing applications properly.

The U.S. House is expected to vote today to authorize an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (plus an additional $10 billion in EIDL grants). The Senate passed the measure Tuesday. With President Donald Trump expected to sign the bill, funding could be available as early as Friday—but the money is expected to go quickly.

To be in the best position to receive assistance when the funding is released, new applicants should act as swiftly as possible to submit all required information. Persistence is critical, but it’s also important to exercise patience, knowing that lenders have been confronted with an avalanche of applications, say those who’ve successfully obtained funding.

Hosting the video is National Association of REALTORS® Senior Policy Representative Erin Stackley, who has been providing answers to REALTORS®’ questions through the association’s main coronavirus page.

“The number one question I get is whether you can apply for both programs, and the answer is yes,” says Stackley. “But you can’t use the funds for the same purposes. No double-dipping is allowed.” If you receive an advance grant ($10,000 maximum) through the EIDL program, it will be subtracted from the PPP loan forgiveness amount, and has to be declared when you apply for a PPP.

Laurie LaDow, ABR, CRS, an agent with Cressy & Everett in South Bend, Ind., initially had trouble finding a lender because she didn’t have a business account, only a personal account, with her bank when she began the PPP process. She contacted two credit unions in her area and was able to apply for a loan when she opened a business account with one of them. As an independent contractor, LaDow knew she was eligible to obtain a loan for up to 2.5 times her average monthly 1099-MISC income for 2019. She found completing the paperwork to be straightforward.

Once she submitted her application to the lender, it took a week for her PPP funds to be disbursed. “I asked a lot of questions along the way and was persistent without being over-the-top pushy.”

Maura Neill, CRS, a team leader with RE/MAX Around Atlanta, in Alpharetta, Ga., received a PPP loan that she applied for, along with her husband and teammate Ben Neill, ABR. “We are our own employees. We each get a salary and our own W-2s.” She was relieved to learn that applying to multiple lenders is an acceptable practice to maximize your chances of finding one that can process your application in a timely manner. “Some banks are more backed up than others,” she says. “I had been concerned that multiple applications might be considered fraud.”  Once her application was approved by her bank, Neill’s funds showed up in three days.

Another concern of Neill and other panelists is the PPP loan forgiveness process. Knowing that the loans will not be subject to repayment when borrowers maintain at least 75% of their payroll expenses over the eight-week period following the disbursement of funds, Neill raised the need for loan recipients to ensure that the “forgiveness piece” is in place. “The onus is on us to apply to be considered for forgiveness,” she says.

Charlie Oppler, chief operating officer at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in northern N.J., and 2020 NAR president-elect, says his company, with 15 offices and 86 employees, was helped by its longstanding relationship with a local bank. “We’ve worked with them for about 12 years and we had everything ready and submitted within 24 hours,” he says. “It’s a relief knowing that we’ve kept all of our employees. We’re happy with our team and want it to be the same team when we come out of this.” 

Nathan Hughes, CCIM, principal broker at Sperity Real Estate Ventures in Richmond, Va., applied for both an EIDL grant and a PPP loan. His request for the $10,000 maximum EIDL grant was reduced to $3,000 by the SBA when the program changed its rules and began limiting grants to $1,000 per employee. The grant he received covered him and two employees. “I look at the EIDL as a bridge to a [larger] PPP loan,” he says. Hughes is currently waiting on PPP funds, hopeful that he’ll be a beneficiary soon from the new infusion of funding.