Florida-based financial services firm The Graystone Company has completed the acquisition of mortgage banker and broker Direct Capital Investment Group through a reverse merger transaction, the companies announced Monday. The financials of the deal were not disclosed.
Direct Capital, through its subsidiary Direct Mortgage, offers residential, commercial and SBA loans, per its website. The company has 98 loan officers and six branches, according to the National Multistate Licensing System (NMLS).
Direct Mortgage oversaw the funding of $119 million in 353 mortgage loans from January through August 2023, per Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. And, in a shrinking mortgage market, it registered $1.8 million in revenue and delivered a $20,583 loss from January to May.
To compare, in 2022, the company’s total volume was $152 million through approximately 450 mortgage loans. Last year, the company reported $6.3 million in revenues but had a $1.7 million loss (unaudited), the SEC filings show.
The deal with The Graystone Company resulted in a change in control of Direct Capital Investment from Anastasia Shishova to James Anderson.
“Ms. Shishova will transfer 40,951,000 shares of the Class B Common Stock to the shareholders of Direct Capital Investment. Once the acquisition is complete, the shareholders of Direct Capital Investment will own approximately 80% of the voting power of the company and be the sole officers and directors of the Company.”
As part of the transaction, Shishova resigned as company CEO and sole director of Direct Capital. Anderson was appointed president and CEO. Seasoned mortgage professional Glen Gomez will also be a director.
“As a result of the DCIG/DMI acquisition, the Company will focus exclusively on operating and expanding the mortgage lending business and will cease all its existing business operations,” a Graystone’s SEC filings state.
Lenders deny loan applications due to reasons like poor credit, insufficient collateral, industry and more
Getting denied a small business loan doesn’t mean businesses can’t secure one in the future
Before reapplying for a loan, determine why the previous application was denied and make sure you’re applying with the right lender
Starting or growing a business may require financing, but not all business loan applications are successful.
According to the Federal Reserve’s 2023 Report on Employer Firms, 21 percent of surveyed loan applicants were denied for loans in 2022. That number is expected to go up considering lenders are expected to continue tightening their lending standards for the rest of 2023.
We’ll explore the most common reasons for denial and provide solutions to increase your chances of approval when reapplying for a small business loan.
Too much debt
If your business carries a significant amount of debt, it may hinder your ability to repay a new loan. Lenders view excessive debt as a risk because it can lead to default. And if you default on a business loan, a few things may happen, including the lender seizing business or personal property to recover the borrowed funds.
Your best course of action is to focus on reducing your existing debt load. You can do this by renegotiating terms with creditors, consolidating loans or making additional payments. Also, limit the use of your available credit, which adds to your debt and impacts your ability to build business credit.
A business owner with bad credit is a red flag for lenders. It suggests that you may struggle to manage your finances.
If you have a history of late or missed payments and defaults, consider making a few changes to how you manage your personal and business finances. For example, set up autopay so bills are paid on time and review your credit report to dispute errors and inaccuracies.
You won’t see immediate changes to your score. So if you need funds right away, look into lenders who specialize in business loans for bad credit.
Don’t meet the lender’s eligibility requirements
Failing to meet a lender’s eligibility requirements for a business loan can result in denial. All lenders have specific criteria related to credit scores, annual revenue, time in business and other factors.
It’s important to review the eligibility requirements of potential lenders before applying. If you don’t meet the lender’s criteria, consider alternative lenders. But if you are set on working with a specific lender, focus on improving your business’s financial health so you qualify for a loan.
Not enough collateral
With a secured small business loan, businesses must pledge assets that can be seized if they default on the loan. Since the collateral for a business loan is used as a form of repayment and needs to cover the outstanding balance on the loan, if these assets aren’t of significant value, lenders may deny your loan application.
You can work to build up your business’s assets so you qualify for secured financing options in the future, but if you need funding as soon as possible, explore alternative financing options that don’t require collateral.
Online lenders typically offer a variety of unsecured business loans, including business lines of credit and merchant cash advances. Loan amounts will likely be significantly lower than secured business loan amounts. If you don’t have a high credit score and strong business financials, you may see loan amounts of $100,000 or less.
Not enough free capital or cash flow
Lenders want to see that your business has sufficient cash flow to repay the loan. If there’s no evidence of enough free capital or cash flow, they can’t approve you.
Before applying for another small business loan, complete a cash flow analysis to figure out ways to better manage your expenses and free up cash so you can afford the monthly payments. You can also increase your revenue. The required annual revenue varies, but if your business brings in at least $100,000, you could get approved with some online lenders.
You can also explore invoice factoring or merchant cash advances, which are short-term business loans designed to help businesses that need quick access to capital.
Don’t have a business checking account
A business checking account is a valuable tool that can help you manage your business finances more effectively. While it isn’t a requirement to start or run a business, many lenders, including OnDeck, Bank of America and Fundbox won’t approve loan applications for businesses without business checking accounts.
To meet this requirement, simply open a business checking account. If your lender offers a full suite of business banking products and services, consider opening an account to establish a relationship and potentially access discounts.
Some lenders don’t want to risk lending to businesses in certain industries due to the odds of failure or unstable revenue. For example, restaurants and real estate businesses may be disqualified from a small business loan.
Research lenders who are familiar with your industry and the associated risks. Many alternative lenders don’t have the same industry restrictions as traditional lenders, so you could be better off going this route. But they often come at a high price due to interest and fees.
Don’t have a business plan
Not all lenders require a business plan, but the ones that do want to see a clear and detailed outline of how you’ll use the loan, how it will benefit your business and if your business has the potential to earn the revenue necessary to repay the loan.
Creating a well-thought-out business plan that demonstrates your vision, strategy, goals and financial potential can get you closer to loan approval. A few things to include are:
Summary of market research
Why was my SBA loan denied?
Compared to traditional small business loans, SBA loans offer extended terms and reduced interest rates, with average SBA interest rates falling between 10.75 percent and 16.50 percent.
In 2022, SBA approvals for 7(a) loans were under 50,000 and only about 9,000 for 504 loans. That’s according to data from the SBA Weekly Lending Report. When an SBA loan is denied, it could be for similar reasons as traditional loans, but the SBA has additional criteria that businesses may fall short of meeting.
Common reasons for SBA loan application denial include:
Poor personal or business credit scores
Insufficient cash flow
High existing debt
Ineligible business, size or industry
Missing documents or information
If your SBA loan is denied, you’ll need to wait 90 days before reapplying. During that time, check with your lender to see why your SBA loan was denied and make changes or consider applying for a different type of SBA loan.
What to do if your business loan is denied
If your small business loan is denied, this doesn’t mean you won’t get the funding you need. You can reapply for a loan, but there are a few things you’ll want to take care of first.
Start by identifying the reason for the denial. Whether it’s due to poor credit history, insufficient cash flow or another issue, this insight is what you need to get your future loan application approved.
Depending on the reason, for example, if you don’t have a business checking account or business plan, you can be ready to reapply in a few days or weeks. But if your business’s poor financial health is to blame, making improvements may take some time but can lead to a more affordable business loan. But if you can’t wait, consider looking into a different lender that is willing to work with you.
Before you reapply for a small business loan, work to boost your creditworthiness by making timely payments and reducing existing debt. And don’t be afraid to explore alternative lenders and government-backed programs with flexible lending criteria.
Poor credit, insufficient cash flow, lack of a business plan and other issues can prevent you from securing a small business loan. It can be disappointing when you get denied funding, but it’s important to understand why because it’s an opportunity to create a plan and implement solutions to significantly improve your business’s financial health. And, by the time you’re ready to reapply, you’ll seem less risky to lenders and have better odds of approval.
Frequently asked questions
Credit score requirements vary by lender, but you can secure a business loan with a score as low as 500.
Yes, it is possible to get a business loan with no money. Certain business loans, such as SBA microloans, equipment loans and business credit cards, are designed for new businesses with no revenue. But waiting to secure financing might be the better option since some business loans may not come with favorable rates and terms for businesses with no revenue.
Getting a small business loan can be challenging, but it depends on the loan type, lender, their requirements and your qualifications, including credit score and annual revenue. Start by getting your personal and business credit scores and reviewing your credit report. Then look at lenders and their eligibility requirements to see which ones will work with you.
Many contract-based businesses face challenges fulfilling their contracts due to the high upfront costs of starting a project and a payment cycle that usually pays for work only after it’s completed. In addition, many banks consider lending to contractors too risky. These factors combined can cause contractor businesses to pass up jobs. Smaller contracting companies, subcontractors and women- and minority-owned contracting businesses are especially susceptible to this fate.
If you’re struggling with cash flow and qualifying for a small-business loan, contractor financing can be an effective way of fulfilling contracts and growing your business.
What is contractor financing?
The term “contractor” usually refers to a general contractor or subcontractor; however, it can refer to anyone whose business model is dependent on contracts with a local or federal government, or with a larger, private corporation. Contractor financing, or contractor mobilization lending, is a specialized form of financing that relies on the value of a contract — rather than business profit — to underwrite a loan.
Contractor financing can also more broadly refer to small-business term loans, equipment loans or lines of credit that are given to contractors. Because many banks won’t lend to contractors, lenders that advertise contractor financing may simply mean that their loan products are open to contractors.
How does contractor financing work?
Rather than using the traditional components of loan underwriting like personal credit, business profit or collateral, contractor financing relies on the value of a contract that has been won by the business to underwrite a loan. Similar to invoice financing or accounts receivable financing, the contract acts as a form of collateral that a lender can use to ensure repayment.
Contract loans are usually short-term — some lasting only as long as the expected timeline of the contract. Their uses are typically limited to contract-related expenses and the repayment terms are structured to align with the contract’s payment terms. The loan amount is typically anywhere from 20%-30% of the total value of the contract.
Contractor loans may be lender-controlled or borrower-controlled. For lender-controlled loans, your lender sets up a separate account and collects money directly from the entity awarding the contract. This allows it to track payments from your client to ensure it gets paid first. A borrower-controlled loan is just the opposite, and repayment functions more like a traditional loan. You are in control of the payments you receive and responsible for making payments to the lender.
When to use contract financing
When you’re looking to scale your business. Seeking larger contracts can ultimately help your business grow but can also result in cash-flow gaps. Using contractor financing to start winning bigger contracts can be an effective growth strategy.
When you can’t qualify for a traditional loan. Because contractor loans rely less on business profit and personal assets, they can be a good option if you’re having trouble qualifying for traditional lending.
When you don’t have financing needs outside of your contract. Because contractor loans are underwritten to a specific contract, their uses are normally limited to that contract. If you have other business financing needs, you may be better off going for a traditional term loan or a line of credit.
If you have a good relationship with your client. Contractor loans work especially well if you trust the client you’re working with. That will not only make the application process easier, it may also demonstrate to the lender that there won’t be any problems with repayment.
What you’ll need to qualify
Ultimately it will depend on the individual lender, but you can generally expect to prepare the following to qualify for a contractor loan:
Proof of awarded contract. Your lender will need to see the terms of the awarded contract so it can do its own research and understand how it can structure the loan to align with the contract.
Business history. Though it’s not weighted as heavily for contractor loans, lenders will still likely want to look at your business’s financial history. They may also request references or proof of previously completed projects.
Contact information for the entity awarding the contract. Especially if your loan is lender-controlled, your lender will want to have a way to contact your client directly. It may want to ask questions about the contract and payment.
Alternatives to contractor financing
In addition to contractor mobilization loans, there are other ways to finance a contract or contract-based business:
Invoice financing or accounts receivable financing functions similarly to a contractor loan in that your loan amount is secured against unpaid invoices you have coming in. Like contractor financing, it can be effective at filling gaps in cash flow. This type of financing may be better suited for smaller contract-based businesses.
Small-business term loans
Though many turn to contractor loans because they’re having trouble getting traditional term loans, it’s worth checking if you can qualify for term loans first, especially if you have financing needs that extend past one contract. Term loans may also be cheaper in the long run and can help boost your business credit.
SBA 504 loans and 7(a) loans support construction lending and can be a great option if you’re having trouble qualifying through traditional lenders, especially if you’re a smaller company. SBA loans are underwritten by accredited Small Business Administration lenders, so you may be subject to their qualification requirements.
Business lines of credit
Business lines of credit, including business credit cards, can be a great alternative to a short-term contractor loan because they are revolving and can continuously fill cash-flow gaps on multiple contracts. However, if you don’t stay on top of paying down the line of credit, you may run out of hit your limit, and interest can add up quickly.
Small-business grants can provide funding for your business that you won’t need to repay, which can be especially appealing when starting or growing your business in Florida. Business grants are available for a wide range of purposes, from covering administrative costs and business expenses to funding research projects and beautifying the exterior of your storefront.
Our list of small-business grants for Florida businesses includes both state-specific and national options.
Florida small-business grants
These Florida-specific grants set aside for small businesses could be statewide, regional or city-specific, so be sure to read the requirements before devoting time to the application.
Florida High Tech Corridor grant
If your Florida startup is a high-tech company, you might be eligible for a Florida High Tech Corridor grant. These grants are designed for research and development projects and partner businesses with researchers at the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida. Opportunities are available in 23 Florida counties.
Eligible businesses work with university researchers to create a project plan and budget, as well as to submit the application. Applications are accepted throughout the year. If approved, funds of up to $150,000 are distributed directly to the university research team.
Prospera small-business grants
Prospera has been helping Hispanic entrepreneurs start new businesses in Florida since 1991. This nonprofit economic development organization works with new and existing Hispanic business owners to help ensure they have the tools and resources needed to succeed.
Prospera grants are awarded on an individual basis and provide for professional services related to legal and accounting assessments, business plans, QuickBooks consulting, marketing plans and brand kits at no cost to the business owner.
Enterprise Florida trade grants
Florida export businesses can apply for a variety of business grants through the Florida Export Diversification and Expansion Program. Grants are offered for marketing plans, website localization, market development and trade shows.
Some basic eligibility requirements for an Enterprise Florida trade grant are that the business be located in Florida, be in operation for a minimum of two years, employ between three and 500 workers and have annual sales of $250,000 or more. Each individual grant has additional eligibility requirements.
Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network
Through the Florida SBDC State Trade Expansion Program, eligible export businesses can be reimbursed for export credit insurance, marketing plan costs and certain expenses related to trade shows and U.S. Department of Commerce promotional events. Limits for reimbursement depend on the expense, but there’s a maximum of $15,000 per funding period. To be eligible for the grant, a business needs to be new to exporting or plan to use exporting to expand their business, among other requirements.
Floridians also have access to professional business consulting services through the SBDC at no cost. Certified consultants can help you with business planning, management, marketing, financial analysis, funding, international trade, cybersecurity and disaster preparedness. Also available are on-demand videos as well as live workshops and seminars, which may require a nominal fee to attend.
City of Orlando Business Assistance Program
The Business Assistance Program (BAP) is a matching grant administered through the Economic Development Department (EDD) with the goal of promoting small-business development and expansion in Orlando, Florida. Business owners will be responsible for 50% of eligible development fees, while the EDD will pay the remaining 50% — up to $20,000.
BAP can be used to help with transportation impact fees, permits and other development fees, as well as improvements such as sidewalk repairs, water line construction, street improvements, landscaping, street lighting, curb improvements and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Small-business owners must get city approval and the proper permits for their project before they can receive financing. Businesses must be located or relocating to the city of Orlando and be a small business as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency grants
North Miami CRA, an independent government agency, offers a number of commercial grant programs, including the Business Attraction Grant, Beautification and Enhancement Grant, Rehabilitation Grant and Capacity Building/Retention Grant. Grant maximum amounts range from $7,500 to $150,000, depending on the program.
Each program has specific requirements, but general eligibility requirements include that the business be within (or moving to a building within) the designated North Miami geographic boundary and the projects must show benefits to the community. The Business Attraction Grant and the Rehabilitation Grant require a 50% match by the business.
National grants available to Florida small businesses
You may also want to consider these national business grants to help fund your Florida small business.
Women entrepreneurs and small-business owners in Florida should be aware of the grants offered by WomensNet. This includes Amber Grant awards of $10,000 or $1,000 each month and a year-end Amber Grant worth $25,000. Other grants include the $10,000 Startup Grant awarded quarterly, $10,000 Business Category Grant awarded monthly and the annual Marketing Grant for marketing planning support.
To be eligible, a business needs to be at least 50% woman-owned and based in the U.S. or Canada. By completing one application, you’ll be considered for all the available grants. In addition to contact information, the application will ask you to explain your business and how you would spend the grant money. There is an application fee of $15.
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) grant
NASE offers business development grants of up to $4,000 to small businesses and startups based in the U.S. It has awarded almost $1 million in small-business grants since the program began in 2006.
To be eligible for a NASE Growth Grant, you must be an active member of the organization for at least 90 days. In addition, you must demonstrate financial need, provide details on how your business will use the grant money, describe how receiving this grant will help your business thrive and provide a copy of your company’s business plan. You can join NASE for $11.95 a month.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards grants to small businesses across the U.S. each year. Typically, FedEx reserves this grant money for small businesses with innovative ideas and those demonstrating the greatest financial need. In 2023, FedEx named 10 grand prize winners to receive $30,000 and $1,000 in print services through this program.
Your business must be for-profit and have fewer than 99 employees to be eligible for the grant. Also, you’ll need to open and use a FedEx business shipping account. Additional eligibility requirements may apply.
America’s Seed Fund
Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, America’s Seed Fund offers grants designed to help U.S. small businesses in the technology sector.
For your business to be eligible for this grant, it must be U.S.-owned, for-profit and focused on research and development. You also must have fewer than 500 employees. To apply, you’ll submit a proposal that will be reviewed and may receive feedback to further refine your concept. Award amounts can range from $50,000 to nearly $2 million, depending on the phase of development.
Tips to find the right Florida small-business grant for you
The process of applying for small business grants may seem challenging, particularly as you’re trying to get your business off the ground. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you explore grant opportunities.
Schedule time for grant applications
Because starting a new business is often extremely time-consuming, it can be helpful to schedule time once a week or more to search for and apply to eligible grant opportunities. Be sure to thoroughly research eligibility requirements to ensure your company fits all of the grant’s criteria before allocating time to the application process.
Expand your search efforts
Look into local small-business grants in your area as well as explore demographic-specific searches that may apply to you or your business, such as:
Weigh grant application fees
Another important factor in applying for small-business grants in Florida is considering application fees. When you research eligible grants, consider the cost of applying versus the benefits you’ll receive. Keeping track of all possible grants you’ve researched, as well as their fees, can help you prioritize your application for affordable or no-cost grants.
Keep alternative funding in mind
Applying for small-business grants in Florida does not guarantee you’ll receive assistance or the amount you wanted. Grants are especially competitive because they provide debt-free funding. If you don’t receive grant money for your Florida business, there are other funding options to explore. Consider small-business loans, such as SBA loans. Your local Florida small-business bank may also be able to connect you to opportunities. Additionally, you may want to consider business credit cards or crowdfunding options to help fund your business.
Courtney Johnston, a freelance writer, contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
Farm loans help farmers and ranchers start, grow or maintain their farming businesses. These small-business loans can be used to cover operating expenses, purchase livestock, buy farm machinery and agricultural equipment, as well as construct farm buildings, among other purposes.
Loans for farms are available from a range of sources, including government agencies and lenders that specialize in agriculture. The best farm financing for your business will be the most affordable option you can qualify for that meets your needs.
How Much Do You Need?
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Best farm loan options for agricultural businesses
1. Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans
Best for: Low interest rates; the variety of loan options.
Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the FSA offers several types of farm loans. FSA loans can be a good choice for first-time and established farmers alike. These loans have competitive interest rates, long repayment terms and can be used for a range of different purposes. Here are your options:
Direct operating loans. These loans can be used to cover daily operating costs and family living expenses. They can also be used to purchase livestock, seed and equipment. Loans are available in amounts up to $400,000 with repayment terms up to seven years. The FSA sets monthly interest rates — and as of July 2023, the interest rate on these loans is 4.5%
. No down payment is required.
Direct ownership loans. Farm ownership loans are used to buy or expand a farm or ranch. These loans are available in amounts up to $600,000 with repayment terms up to 40 years. As of July 2023, the interest rate on these loans is 4.875%.
Microloans. FSA microloans are designed to provide financing to small and beginning farmers, as well as niche and nontraditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). You can choose between an ownership and operating microloan; interest rates and eligible use cases mirror their standard loan counterparts. Funding amounts for either microloan max out at $50,000.
Guaranteed loans. Unlike FSA direct loans, which are issued directly from the agency to the farmer, FSA guaranteed loans work similarly to the SBA loan program. With these farm loans, the FSA guarantees up to 95% of the financing, and the loans are issued by USDA-approved commercial lenders. Rates and terms are negotiated between you and your lender, subject to the FSA’s maximums.
Additional loans. The FSA also offers youth loans, Native American tribal loans and emergency loans. Rates, repayment terms and maximum funding amounts vary based on the individual program.
To qualify for one of these FSA farm loans, you’ll need to meet a variety of industry- and loan-specific requirements. You’ll need to prove your operation is an eligible farm enterprise, show your managerial experience, as well as describe your acceptable loan purpose.
As a borrower, you’ll need to show your ability to repay the loan. Although the FSA doesn’t rely on credit scores to make eligibility determinations, it’s helpful to have a good credit history. However, the FSA will not deny applications based on credit problems or a lack of credit history.
Applications for these government business loans will require extensive documentation. You have the option to apply online through the e-Gov system, by mail, in person at your local FSA office or by phone. You can expect to receive funding within 60 days after the FSA has received your application and corresponding paperwork.
2. SBA loans
Best for: Established businesses with good credit.
Like FSA farm loans, SBA loans offer long repayment terms and competitive interest rates. Plus, SBA loans have larger maximum funding amounts — up to $5 million.
Although the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that farms and agricultural businesses look at FSA loans before applying for SBA loans, SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans can both be good options for established farmers with strong credit
SBA 7(a) loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, buying inventory and purchasing equipment. Interest rates range from 10.5% to 13%, and repayment terms are up to 10 years for working capital, inventory and equipment purchases and up to 25 years for real estate.
SBA 504 loans, on the other hand, are specifically designed for equipment and real estate purchases. Unlike 7(a) loans, which are issued by banks or credit unions, 504 loans come from three places:
A bank (50%).
A Certified Development Company, or CDC (40%).
The borrower (10%).
Typically, the borrower would provide 10% of the financing, but because farms are considered a “special purpose property” by the SBA, you’re required to provide 15% of the loan amount.
SBA loan rates on 504 loans are tied to the 10-year U.S. Treasury notes. You’ll also have to meet a job and retention requirement to qualify, which is not an element of the 7(a) loan program.
You’ll generally need multiple years in business, good credit and strong finances to qualify for either of these SBA loan options. Although — like FSA loans — SBA loans can be slow to fund, you can expedite the process by working with an SBA preferred lender. These lenders have extensive experience with SBA loan applications and are authorized to accelerate the underwriting process.
3. Farm Credit organizations
Best for: Industry expertise; personalized experience.
Farm Credit is a network of lending institutions across the U.S. that are owned by farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses. These institutions are divided into four districts and each district has its own regional wholesale bank.
In each of these districts, you can find organizations that offer loans exclusively for farms and other agricultural businesses. These banks offer farm equipment loans, first-time and beginning farm loans, livestock loans, poultry loans, land loans and lines of credit, among other options.
Loan amounts, repayment terms and interest rates will vary based on the specific institution and loan program — but regardless of which Farm Credit institution you work with, you’ll receive guidance and expertise that’s unique to your industry.
Representatives at these institutions can offer a personalized experience, as well as educational resources and a continuous relationship with your business. If you’re looking to work closely with your bank throughout the loan process and beyond, a local Farm Credit organization may be an option to consider.
4. Farm Plus Financial
Best for: Beginning farmer loans.
Farm Plus Financial is an asset-based lender that offers both farm loans and lines of credit. All of the lender’s available products are secured by agricultural real estate, making it a good choice for newer farmers who may not have the financials to qualify for other options.
Farm loans from Farm Plus Financial are available in amounts that range from $200,000 to $50 million. For term loans, the company can finance up to 75% of the loan-to-value (LTV). For lines of credit, on the other hand, this amount falls to 50% LTV.
Interest rates vary based on the product you choose, your repayment terms and your qualifications, among other factors. You can reach out to a lending representative to receive more information about current interest rates.
Although the value of your farm’s real estate will be one of the most important factors in your business loan application, Farm Plus Financial also requires that all borrowers have a minimum personal credit score of 660 or higher. In addition, your farm property must be five acres or greater to be eligible.
You can start an application by submitting an online inquiry form with basic information about your farm and its financing needs. Once you’ve sent the form, a farm loan specialist will reach out to discuss your options and help you with the application. In general, it can take anywhere from one to three months to get funded.
5. National Funding
Best for: Bad credit; quick access to capital.
If you need capital quickly — or you have bad credit (a personal credit score of 620 or below) — you might consider National Funding for a farm loan. National Funding is an online lender that offers two distinct options: short-term loans and equipment financing.
With National Funding’s short-term loans, you can access up to $400,000 and can use the money to cover working capital needs, inventory purchases and other day-to-day expenses. These loans are available with repayment terms up to 24 months and interest is quoted as a factor rate, which starts at 1.1 for borrowers with strong credit.
The lender’s equipment financing program, on the other hand, provides equipment loans and leases in amounts up to $150,000. You can finance or lease new and used equipment, such as combines, tractors and trucks.
These farm loans have repayment terms up to five years and factor rates that also start at 1.1 for borrowers with strong credit.
Regardless of which option you choose, National Funding offers flexible business loan requirements and a streamlined application process. To qualify, you’ll need to have been in business for at least six months, a personal credit score of 600 or higher and an annual revenue of $250,000 or more.
When you’re ready to apply, you can fill out a simple form on the lender’s website. Next, you’ll talk to a funding specialist who will help you decide which type of farm loan is right for your needs. This representative will also guide you through the application — and once you’re approved, you’ll receive funds in as little as 24 hours.
How to get a farm loan
To get a farm loan for your agriculture business, you can follow these steps:
Understand your financing needs
Think about why you need capital and what you’re going to use it for — this will help you determine which type of financing is right for your business.
You should also consider how much debt you can afford to take on. You should make sure that you’ll be able to handle any potential loan payments based on your current income.
Evaluate typical farm loan requirements
Overall, the farm loan requirements you’ll need to meet will vary based on your loan type and business lender. Most lenders, however, will consider your personal credit score, time in business and annual revenue.
Additionally, as an agriculture business, lenders will likely pay close attention to industry-specific criteria, such as your farm management experience, the amount of land you have, your farm business plan and assets.
Research and compare lenders
With a better understanding of your needs and qualifications, you should be able to focus your lender search to find the options that will be best suited to your business. In general, if you think you may qualify for an FSA loan, you might consider starting your search with these low-interest options.
As you explore different lenders, you should compare them based on factors such as:
Maximum funding amounts.
Down payment requirements.
Gather your documentation and apply
Once you’ve found the right lender for your needs, you can gather all of the documentation you need to submit your application. In many cases, you’ll be able to work with a lending representative who will be able to help you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Once you’ve submitted your application, approval and funding times will vary. Government and commercial lenders tend to have longer timelines, ranging anywhere from several weeks to several months. Online lenders, on the other hand, can fund applications much faster — with some companies providing capital in just 24 hours.
Frequently asked questions
Can I get a farm loan with bad credit?
Yes. Although there may be fewer farm loan options available to borrowers with bad credit, it is still possible to get financing. The FSA, for example, does not exclude its loan applicants for poor or non-existent credit histories. Online lenders are also more likely to accept borrowers with bad credit.
Can you get a loan to buy a farm?
Yes. In fact, the FSA offers a direct farm ownership loan specifically designed to help borrowers buy a farm or ranch. Commercial and online lenders may also issue business loans that can be used to buy a farm.
How can you get a farm loan with no down payment?
If you want a farm loan with no down payment, you can start by looking into FSA loans. Some of the FSA direct farm loans do not require a down payment.
You might also consider online lenders, such as National Funding, many of which don’t require down payments for their loan options. However, to get a loan with no down payment, it will be helpful to have strong qualifications.
And it’s essential to keep in mind that lenders may charge higher interest rates on no-down payment loans than they would if you provided a down payment on your financing.
Some, but not all, SBA loans require a down payment or an investment of money from the borrower at the start of the loan term — typically figured as a percentage of the total loan amount. A down payment can be an indication to the SBA and the lender that you are willing to invest your own money in your business and intend to repay your loan according to the terms of the agreement.
SBA loan down payment requirements
SBA loan program
Maximum loan amount
Standard 7(a) loans
10% to 20%.
$500,000 or $5 million, depending on the specific loan program.
SBA disaster loans
*Down payment requirements and other loan terms can vary by lender.
SBA 7(a) loan down payment
SBA 7(a) loans can be used for working capital, to refinance debt, to start a business or to buy another business, real estate or equipment. Some subcategories of SBA 7(a) loans can have borrower investment, or down payment, requirements:
SBA standard 7(a): This loan type can require at least a 10% down payment when the loan is used to buy a business. In other situations, the requirement for a down payment can be left up to the lender. Standard SBA 7(a) loans offer amounts up to $5 million.
SBA Express loans: The decision on whether to require a down payment on an SBA Express loan is left to the lender. However, if the lender requires a down payment on non-SBA commercial loans, it must also require it for SBA loans. This type of SBA 7(a) loan typically has a faster loan approval time, but it’s capped at a $350,000 maximum loan amount.
There are a few specialized 7(a) loan programs that will be covered below that typically don’t have down payment requirements.
SBA CDC/504 loan down payment
SBA CDC/504 loans typically require a down payment of at least 10% from the borrower. The SBA partners with Certified Development Companies to offer these loans, which are specifically for the purchase, renovation or building of commercial real estate or purchase of heavy equipment. Loan amounts can reach up to $5.5 million.
This loan combines two types of lenders and a down payment to fully fund the loan.
Up to 50% of the loan will come from a traditional bank, credit union or other lender.
Another 40% will come from the CDC or Certified Development Company.
The final 10% of the loan is typically funded through an owner down payment.
To be eligible for an SBA 504 loan, a business needs to operate as a for-profit business in the U.S. or its territories, have a tangible net worth of less than $15 million and an average net income of less than $5 million after taxes for the past two years.
SBA loans with no down payment requirement
There are some loan programs available through the SBA, including some specialized 7(a) loans, where you may be able to avoid a down payment requirement. This is typically because the amount of money being provided is relatively small or because the loan programs are designed for very specific purposes.
For businesses looking for a small amount of funding, an SBA microloan may be a good choice. SBA microloans are offered up to $50,000 and are available to for-profit businesses and certain nonprofit child care centers.
SBA microloans are available to rebuild, repair or expand your small business and the funds can be used for things such as working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, equipment and machinery. However, the loan proceeds can’t be used to purchase real estate or pay off existing debt.
Generally, you must have some type of collateral to be eligible for an SBA microloan, but each lender will have its own lending and credit requirements. You can apply for an SBA microloan at specific nonprofit community-based organizations that the SBA has designated as intermediary lenders for the program.
SBA CAPLines program
The SBA CAPLines program, a subcategory of 7(a) loans, offers lines of credit to small businesses to meet their cyclical or short-term working capital needs. These SBA lines of credit can be as high as $5 million.
To be eligible for SBA CAPLines, your business must meet the standard SBA Loan 7(a) requirements. There may be some additional requirements depending on the specific CAPLines product that you’re applying for.
SBA export loans
SBA export loans, another type of 7(a) loan, are designed to help small businesses expand their exports, engage in international transactions and enter new foreign markets.
To be eligible for an SBA export loan, your business must be involved in exporting goods or services to foreign countries or need to modernize your operation to compete with foreign companies.
SBA disaster loans
An SBA disaster loan can be used by a business to recover from a declared disaster or the loss of a crucial employee. There are three types of SBA disaster loans, none of which require a down payment.
When is a down payment required for an SBA loan?
Down payment requirements can depend on the loan program and the use of funds. For example, the SBA sets a minimum down payment of 10% for a standard 7(a) loan when it’s used to buy a business. However, this isn’t always the case. In the Express loan program, the SBA lets the lender determine if a borrower needs to make a down payment — as long as the requirement would be consistent with the lender’s processing of non-SBA loans, too.
In general, the SBA likes to see borrowers invest their own money when they are starting or buying a business or when they’re buying real estate, equipment or some other asset. On the other hand, a down payment is less likely needed for lines of credit that will be used for working capital or for disaster loans which are designed to help a business recover.
Why do SBA loans require down payments?
The SBA and its partner lenders both know that when small-business owners invest their own money and time into a business venture, they are more likely to follow through with the full repayment of the loan.
Also, because of the partial guarantee arrangement, both the SBA and the intermediary lender have something significant to lose if a borrower fails to repay. Before taking this risk, both the SBA and its intermediaries want to know that a borrower has something to lose as well.
Frequently asked questions
How do you get a down payment for an SBA loan?
Some options to consider for a down payment include personal savings, a personal loan, investor or business partners, 401(k) retirement plan, Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS), sale of business assets, mortgage refinance or another type of loan.
Can you get an SBA loan with no money down?
SBA microloans, CAPLines, export loans and disaster loans don’t require down payments.
Is it hard to get approved for an SBA loan?
Generally, it can be easier to get approved for an SBA loan than a conventional bank loan, but SBA loans can still be hard to qualify for. Online business loans and microlenders are another option to consider, but they often have higher interest rates and shorter loan terms than SBA loans.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
Whether you are a freelancer, side hustler, or run a full-time business, opening a separate business bank account should be your first move after starting your business.
A business bank account helps you keep your business finances and personal income and expenses separate. Having a business bank account for all your business finances makes it easy to run records and track your costs and deductions at tax time.
Business checking accounts can also help business owners establish credit, which they can use for net terms with suppliers or to take out business loans or business credit cards.
But which business checking account is best? And can you find good options with free business checking accounts?
12 Best Free Business Checking Accounts
We’ve done the legwork for you, compiling a list of the 12 best free business checking accounts available in the U.S. today.
1. Bluevine: Best Free Business Checking Account Overall
Bluevine offers one of the most comprehensive and best free business checking accounts you’ll find. It has no monthly maintenance fees, no overdraft fees, and an annual percentage yield APY of 2% on up to $250,000 of your balance if you meet monthly activity goals. To qualify, simply make $500 in debit card purchases with your Bluevine business debit or receive $2,500 per month in customer payments to your account.
Bluevine offers features that make it great for a team, including the ability to open multiple sub-accounts and even have separate logins for employees or contractors, like accountants and virtual assistants.
While some free business checking accounts have transaction limits, your Bluevine business checking account does not. Funds are backed by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC. Coastal Community Bank provides business banking services for Bluevine customers.
2. Capital One Business Bank Account: Best for Local Branches
If you’re looking for personalized service at local branches, consider Capital One business checking. Capital One offers two tiers of checking accounts: Basic and Enhanced. Both accounts offer unlimited digital transactions, free overdraft coverage, access to Capital One’s mobile app, no ATM fees at 70,000 Capital One, Allpoint, and MoneyPass ATMs, and low monthly fees that are easily waived when you meet minimum balance requirements.
Capital One Enhanced business checking is designed for larger businesses who can meet $25,000 average daily balance requirements needed to waive the $35 monthly service fee. Enjoy free incoming wire transfers, five free outgoing wire transfers monthly, and a remote scanner for mobile check deposits.
3. GO2bank: Best for Online Banking
GO2bank is a complete mobile banking solution with digital banking services provided by Green Dot Bank. The bank offers many features in its online business checking account that will appeal to business owners and their employees, including co-branded debit cards, optional overdraft protection, and a co-branded app for businesses. You can also get a secured business credit card through GO2bank.
Waive the monthly fees with qualifying direct deposits, and receive ACH payments up to two days early. You can also purchase eGift cards for yourself or as employee incentives and earn up to 7% cash back.
4. Found: Best for Freelancers
Hailed as the debit card for the self-employed, we rate Found as the best free business account for freelancers. It has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements, and no credit check to open your account.
Found has a few features that can help you streamline your business. By evaluating your income and expenses, Found can calculate your tax bill, categorize tax write-offs, and even auto-save the correct amount from each deposit to cover your quarterly taxes. You can also send invoices from the app.
Found is a financial technology company, not a bank. Deposits are FDIC insured through Piermont Bank.
5. First Citizens Bank Basic Business Checking: Best for Checking Account Choices:
Most business checking accounts have one option for a business owner. First Citizens has four choices to help you choose the right business checking account with the features you need. The basic business checking account offers 100 transactions with no monthly fee, and has a minimum opening deposit of $100.
Business Banking I is free with a merchant account or a minimum daily balance of $25,000. It offers processing of up to $250 transactions per month, plus $10,000 in cash processing, including cash deposits. Business Banking II has similar features with 500 free transactions and $15,000 in cash processing, including cash deposits. There is a $50 monthly fee unless you have a merchant account or an average daily ledger balance of $50,000.
Business Banking III is best for larger enterprises who want choices and do a high volume of business. Process up to 750 transactions free each month, with $20,000 in cash deposits. You’ll need a merchant account or $75,000 in your average daily ledger balance to avoid the monthly maintenance fee.
Business Banking I, II, and III accounts also let you customize your plan with additional discounted services.
6. Novo Business Checking Account: Best for E-commerce and App Integrations
Novo is not a bank, it’s a financial technology company with deposits backed by Middlesex Federal Savings, Member FDIC. Novo is one of the most tech-forward financial institutions on our list, offering easy integration with apps like Shopify, Wise, Stripe, Square, and Quickbooks.
The Novo Business Checking account has no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, no cash deposit fees, and ATM fee reimbursement for out-of-network ATM use. Account holders can also get discounts on popular business software and services, including LegalZoom, Constant Contact, and Stripe.
7. Mercury Banking For Start-ups: Best for Start-ups
Bootstrapped and venture-backed startups of every size have unique needs in a business checking account. A Mercury free business checking account helps your money stretch further with no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirements, and no minimum deposit to open. You can earn 5.11% annual percentage yield APY with mutual funds invested through Mercury Treasury if you have an account balance of $250,000 or more.
Mercury free business checking offers unlimited free transactions, including no cash deposit fees, for businesses who process less than $200,000 per month. The account offers team management tools, debit cards for multiple employees, and capabilities to open multiple checking and savings accounts to manage cash flow.
Plus, your Mercury account is backed by up to $5 million worth of FDIC insurance through partner banks. Banking services are provided by Choice Financial Group and Evolve Bank & Trust, Members FDIC and deposits are held in various partner banks.
8. U.S. Bank Silver Business Checking: Best for Sign-up Bonus
If you’re looking to earn free cash to boost your business, consider a U.S. Bank Silver Business checking account with a $100 minimum deposit before June 30, 2023. You can earn a $500 bonus when you make new deposits of at least $5,000 and maintain a minimum balance of at least $5,000 until 60 days after the account opening. Increase that to $15,000 in new money deposits and maintain that balance for 60 days and earn $750 deposited into your new business checking account.
U.S. Bank offers tons of benefits for business owners, including no transaction fees for up to 125 transactions each month, 25 free cash transactions (or up to $2,500 in free cash deposits, whichever comes first), no monthly maintenance fee, and 50% off on your first check order, up to $50.
Larger businesses may prefer a Gold Business Checking Account, with no transaction fees for up to 300 transactions per month. It also has a waivable $20 monthly fee.
There is also a Platinum Checking Account Package with 500 free transactions and a $30 monthly fee. This fee is waived by meeting monthly minimum balance requirements.
9. Chase Business Complete Banking: Best for Payment Processing
For those who want to avoid online only banks and are looking for a big bank with international recognition and branches and ATMs across the U.S., Chase Business Complete Banking offers a solid solution. It comes with many ways to waive the monthly service fee.
Chase also makes it easy to accept credit and debit card payments without using a third-party payment processor. Chase QuickAccept is a built-in feature as part of Chase Business Complete Banking. You don’t need to apply for a separate merchant account, and the transaction fees are competitive with other credit card processing companies.
QuickAccept also allows you to access money faster with same-day deposits with no added fees. If you need a merchant payment processing provider that works in synch with your bank account, Chase Business Complete Banking could be the best choice for you.
Right now through August 3, 2023, businesses can earn a bonus up to $500 when they open a Chase Business Complete Checking account and meet requirements, which including total deposits of $15,000 or more. Deposit just $2,000 or more and snag an easy $300 for your new business checking account.
10. Huntington Business Checking 100 (Midwest): Best for Community Banking
Huntington National Bank, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, since 1866, offers three business checking accounts, including a business interest checking account, Unlimited Plus Business Checking.
The top-tier account includes unlimited transactions, plus cash deposits of up to $25,000. Waive the $40 monthly fee with up to $50,000 in total deposit relationship balances across business accounts. Designed for larger businesses, the Unlimited Plus Business Checking allows you to choose two bonus services such as a fraud tool, waived returned deposited items fees on up to 25 items per month, or two free incoming domestic wires monthly.
The Unlimited Business Checking account offers similar features, with unlimited transactions, free cash deposits on up to $10,000 per month, and a choice of one bonus service. Waive the $20 monthly fee by maintaining a minimum balance of at least $10,000. A Business Checking 100 account offers up to 100 transactions per month, and up to $5,000 in cash transactions with no monthly fee.
Huntington is devoted to the local communities it serves and spotlights small business owners on its website. It also specializes in SBA loans and offers a linked business money market account to earn interest on savings with no monthly maintenance fee if you maintain an average daily balance of $10,000+.
11. Relay Business Checking: Best for Money Management
Relay online banking offers up to 20 primary business checking accounts for members of your team or for different business expenses, plus 50 virtual or physical Visa debit cards. Designed to assist with cash flow and money management, your Relay online banking account allows automated transfers into the various checking accounts based on percentage of income or flat-rate dollar figures.
Your Relay online and mobile banking account also includes up to two business savings accounts with APYs of 1% to 3%. Best of all, unlike many free business checking accounts that are only free if you meet transaction or balance requirements, Relay has no monthly maintenance fee, no transaction fees, no overdraft fees, no ATM fees, and no minimum balance requirements.
12. Axos Basic Business Checking Account: Best for No Fees
Axos Bank has been voted best online bank by Money Magazine and its business offering stands out for small business owners as a straightforward business checking account with no transaction fees, no monthly maintenance fee, and no minimum opening deposit. You also don’t have to worry about balance requirements or ATM fees. You’ll even receive unlimited reimbursements for using out-of-network ATMs within the U.S.
You will need to maintain a minimum balance of at least $5,000 for the first five statement cycles to earn a $100 account opening bonus. You will receive $25 into your business account each month you maintain the minimum requirements. However, if you close the account within 120 days, you might have to pay a $100 early closure fee.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Free Business Checking Account
The best free business checking account for your business depends on the volume of cash deposits, number of transactions, the size of your company and your general banking needs.
It’s important for a business of any size, including a sole proprietor or 1099 contractor, to open a business checking account to keep business funds separate from your personal checking account and other personal finances. This is especially important at tax time.
Many of the business bank accounts on our list of best free business checking accounts make it easy for you to track your business finances. They offer end-of-month or quarterly reports or integrate with QuickBooks or other accounting software to make money management easy. This, along with costs, quality of customer service, mobile apps, and more should factor into your decision when you choose a small business checking account.
Monthly Maintenance Fee
Account fees have long been a fact of life for individuals and business owners, but they no longer have to be with so many free checking accounts available today. Some of the banks on this list, including Axos and Relay, offer no monthly fee of any kind. Others make it easy to waive the monthly fee by meeting balance requirements.
See if there are any balance requirements, direct deposit requirements, or minimum debit card purchases to avoid the monthly service fee, and if you will be able to meet those minimums easily each month.
Easy-to-use Online and Mobile Banking
Even basic business checking today should have a robust app and mobile banking solutions, including mobile check deposits, capability to turn your debit cards on or off, and to monitor spending in a user-friendly app.
You may think online-only banks have better mobile capabilities, but that’s not always the case. All the best business checking accounts on our list have intuitive, user-friendly mobile apps.
Low Minimum Opening Deposit Requirements
Most of the free checking accounts on our list have low minimum opening deposit requirements. Some may have higher minimums to earn a bonus on your business checking account. Make sure to read the fine print and know the minimum deposit requirements if you want to earn that sign-up bonus.
While it’s possible to find a business checking account with no monthly service fee, your bank may have some fees. Read the fine print so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. It should be easy to avoid ATM fees, overdraft fees, and even monthly fees.
However, you may have to pay for wire transfers, out-of-network ATMs, and other transactions. Unlike personal accounts, it’s common for business bank accounts to have fees if you deposit cash. Sometimes, a certain number of cash transactions is included in your monthly fee.
It’s important to research the bank’s customer service before you commit to a business checking account. Online only banks, especially, may have limited ways to reach customer support. Find out if they offer 24/7 service. Many people prefer online banking for the convenience and low account fees. But if you experience a problem, you want to make sure you can get help promptly.
Positive Customer Reviews
When you’re looking for the best business checking account, it pays to research the opinions of other business owners like you. Customer reviews can give you a feel for the level of customer service, ATM fees, monthly fees, fraud protection, and more.
Practical Transaction and Cash Deposit Limits
Many of the best business checking accounts offer unlimited transactions and reasonable monthly limits to deposit cash. Many banks offer different tiers of business checking accounts, so you can pay a set monthly fee for the level of service you need.
Linked Business Savings Account or Business Interest Checking Account
If you want to earn interest on your cash reserves, look for a checking account that pays interest or for a bank with a high interest savings account. Pay attention to account fees, withdrawal limits, and
Consider the Need for a Bank With Physical Locations
Online banking offers lower monthly fees and convenience. But if your business needs to deposit cash regularly or you just want personalized service and relationship banking, you might prefer a bank account at a financial institution with brick-and-mortar locations.
Questions to Ask Before Deciding on a Business Checking Account
When you’re shopping around for a free business checking account, consider your needs, the number of transactions you conduct daily, your account balance, and whether you prefer a traditional bank or are willing to consider online only banks for your business checking needs. Ask yourself the following questions so you can compare your options.
Will you be making regular cash deposits?
Many business checking accounts charge a fee if you want to deposit cash. Sometimes, a number of cash deposits will be included in your monthly fee. Make sure to pick an account with the capabilities you need.
Do you prefer a bank or credit union?
You might prefer the personalized service of a credit union instead of choosing a large bank or an online bank. When you’re evaluating credit unions, compare all the features and fees the same as you would evaluate business bank accounts.
Do you need to process customer transactions?
Banks like Chase offer credit card processing as an add-on feature to their services. If you are using an online bank, you might want one that integrates with Stripe, Square, or other payment processors. The capability to process customer transactions is one element that sets a business bank apart from a personal checking account.
Do you want to earn interest on your balance?
Several banks on our list offer high yield savings accounts, which is a benefit for small businesses, start-ups, and any business that wants to earn free money from their balance. You might also consider an interest earning business checking account like Bluevine, which pays interest on your checking account balance.
Business Checking vs. Money Market Account
A money market account is a special savings account designed to hold money that you may need to access in the short term. Some money market accounts offer higher APYs than other savings accounts. A money market account often has limits on the number of fee-free withdrawals per month.
Most business owners will want to open a free business checking account and link it to a money market account to earn interest on cash reserves.
What You Need to Open a Small Business Checking Account
You may not need an Employer Identification Number or Tax ID number to open a business checking account. If you have one, you should open the account using that number instead of your Social Security number to help keep your business and personal funds separate.
But if you are a freelancer and file taxes as a sole proprietor/self-employed, you can open your business checking account with your SSN. However, if your business has a DBA (doing business as) you will need a certificate or paperwork showing that name.
Likewise, if you are an LLC, you’ll need your business registration along with your EIN. If you have a partnership, you’ll need your partnership agreement and paperwork showing the business name.
Beyond that, you can open a business checking account with your business address, a phone number, email address and the minimum deposit (if required). Visit a branch for personalized service or open your free business checking account online.
See what people are asking about free business checking accounts.
Do you need to pay account or transaction fees?
Some business checking accounts have monthly fees that you can waive by meeting specific requirements. You may also pay ATM fees, fees for cash deposits, and fees for wire transfers or international transactions.
Read the fine print or speak to a personal banker to choose the account that’s right for you.
Can you open a business checking account with no credit check?
Most banks and credit unions will allow you to open a business checking account with no credit check. By maintaining a positive balance in your account, you can build your business credit. A credit check may be required for business loans, lines of credit, or “net” terms with vendors.
What are the most important features of business checking accounts?
Most business owners are looking for business checking with no ATM fees and no monthly fee or easy ways to waive the monthly fee. Beyond that, consider the type and number of transactions you complete monthly, whether you need payment processing capabilities, and if you want a linked savings account to earn interest.
What banks offer free business checking accounts?
Many online and traditional banks offer free business checking or easy ways to waive the monthly fee. The list above describes 12 of our favorite options in free business checking.
Georgia offers an affordable cost of living, top-notch schools and universities, and ample attractions, like the World of Coca-Cola, Forsyth Park, and Atlanta Botanical Garden. It’s also home to a diverse selection of reputable, member FDIC banks for individuals and small business owners.
No matter what your financial needs may be, you’re sure to find a good fit in the Peach State.
14 Best Banks in Georgia
We’ve made finding the best banks in Georgia effortless with our comprehensive list, so let’s dive straight into the options.
1. First Citizens Bank
Owned by First Citizens BancShares, First Citizens Bank has 56 branches across Georgia. As long as you sign up for paperless statements and make an initial opening deposit of at least $50, you won’t be on the hook for monthly maintenance fees.
With the First Citizens standard savings account, you’ll be able to earn interest without paying a monthly service fee or meeting a minimum balance requirement. The bank offers additional banking products, like credit cards, loans, retirement accounts, investment services, and insurance.
As a First Citizens customer, you can bank in-person at a local branch or perform account management online or via the robust mobile app.
2. Ally Bank
Ally Bank is a digital bank with a reputation for industry leading interest rates and low fees. While it doesn’t have a physical presence in Georgia, you can open and manage your accounts through Ally’s intuitive online and mobile banking tools. The Ally Interest Checking account online is a solid pick if you’d like to earn interest and don’t want to worry about annual fees or minimum balance requirements.
You can use the online portal or mobile app to pay bills online, deposit checks, and transfer funds. If you’d like to withdraw some cash, you’ll be able to do so at an Allpoint ATM for free with your Ally debit card.
Ally will also reimburse you if you make any out-of-network ATM reimbursements. In addition to the Ally interest bearing checking account, you might want to open the Ally Online Savings account, which comes with an impressive interest rate and savings bucket tools to help you meet your financial goals.
3. Axos Bank
Axos Bank is a digital bank that serves Georgians. If you’re in the market for checking accounts, you’ll have several options available to you. These include the Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, CashBack Checking, Golden Checking, and First Checking. Many of these accounts earn cash rewards or pay interest.
In addition to an Axos checking account, you might want to consider a high-yield savings account, high-yield money market, or a CD. You can also invest through Axos Invest, which is the bank’s free robo advisor. In addition, the bank offers 24/7 support for personal banking customers.
4. CIT Bank
CIT Bank is an online bank serving customers in all states, including Georgia. You can earn a competitive annual percentage yield or APY on various accounts without paying an arm and a leg for maintenance fees.
The CIT checking account requires a $100 minimum deposit but comes with interest and a free debit card. There’s also the Savings Builder account, which is a two-tiered savings account that requires a $25,000 balance or at least one monthly deposit of $100 or more.
Other options include the CIT Bank Money Market Account, certificates of deposit or CDs, home loans, and business accounts. You may download the CIT Bank app on your Android or IOS device to make mobile check deposits, pay bills, and use services like Zelle, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.
5. Renasant Bank
Headquartered in Mississippi, Renasant Bank has physical locations throughout Georgia. It’s a community bank with several checking account options. Each free checking account comes with perks like online bill pay, mobile banking, a debit card, and a switch kit so you can switch accounts without the hassle.
Renasant’s savings account lineup includes an interest bearing savings account, a savings account for children, a health savings account (HSA), and money market accounts.
If you’re interested in a loan, you can choose from personal loans, auto loans, and home equity lines of credit. In addition to personal banking services, Renasant provides mortgages and a plethora of business banking products. There’s also Renasant Rewards Extra, which gives you access to thousands of deals, cell phone insurance, identity theft protection, roadside assistance, and a health savings card.
6. United Community Bank
Based in Blairsville, United Community Bank is a regional bank with branch locations throughout Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. It’s insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC and has been around since 1950. As a United customer, you can take advantage of more than 206 United ATMs and 1,260 Publix Presto! ATMs for free.
Its plethora of offerings include checking accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, credit cards, CDs, investing products, and business banking products. You can bank on the go via the convenient mobile app or use the online appointment scheduling tool to schedule an in-person appointment with a banker. If you have any questions or concerns, you can fill out a support form online and state whether you prefer an email or phone response.
7. Ameris Bank
Ameris Bank is a regional full-service bank with brick-and-mortar locations throughout Georgia in cities like Atlanta, Tucker, Woodstock, Marietta, and Oakwood. It offers three checking accounts with benefits such as a free Visa debit card, online banking access, e-statements, online bill pay, mobile banking, and Zelle transfers. In addition to checking accounts,
Ameris offers a plethora of savings accounts, including a personal savings account, personal money market account, minor savings account, health savings account, educational savings account, IRA, and CDs. You can also turn to Ameris for numerous mortgage options and down payment assistance. The bank provides personalized business banking solutions as well.
8. Bank of America
Bank of America is a well-known leader in the banking industry. Its financial centers and ATMs are present in various Georgia cities. From checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards to home loans, auto loans, and investing products, Bank of America offers it all.
The bank is also a great resource if you’re looking for small business banking products. Its Business Advantage Banking product is a business checking account with two settings to meet varying business needs.
While the Fundamentals setting has all the basic tools you need to manage your business, the Relationship setting is more robust and won’t charge you fees for wire transfers and electronic deposits. You can switch settings to accommodate your business needs at any time.
In addition to checking accounts, Bank of America offers small business loans, like SBA loans, commercial real estate loans, auto loans, and secured lines of credit.
9. Community Bank of Georgia
Based in Baxley, Community Bank of Georgia is a locally owned and operated bank with 24/7 ATM access. It aims to develop long-term relationships with account holders while offering a full suite of products and services.
The bank’s personal savings accounts include the regular savings account, Treasuresaver Club account for children ages zero to 13, a holiday savings account for holiday expenses, and a personal money market account for high interest savings opportunities.
Other personal banking products offered by Community Bank of Georgia include checking accounts and credit cards. The bank serves local business owners as well.
10. Chase Bank
The consumer banking arm of JPMorgan Chase, Chase is one of the largest national banks with a widespread presence in Atlanta. If you decide to open a deposit account at Chase with eligible Chase checking accounts, there’s a good chance you’ll qualify for a generous sign-up bonus.
You’ll also have access to a wide selection of products, including numerous checking accounts, two savings accounts, CDs with terms ranging from one month to 10 years, home mortgage loans, auto loans, home refinancing, and more. We can’t forget to mention that Chase offers Chase overdraft assist to help you avoid overdraft fees and inconveniences.
Thanks to Chase’s highly rated mobile banking app, you’ll be able to manage your account, make electronic transfers, deposit mobile checks, pill bays online, transfer money with Zelle, automate your savings, and set up account alerts. If you need assistance, you may reach out to Chase directly via phone or social media.
11. Morris Bank
Morris Bank is a local bank with branches in Georgia cities like Dublin, Gray, and Warner Robins. Regardless of which checking account you choose, you’ll enjoy access to free online banking, remote deposit services, online bill pay, and mobile banking.
When it comes to savings accounts, Morris offers the Savings Builder account, which will round up your purchases so you can save more money. In addition, the Blue Savings account allows for three free withdrawals per quarter.
The bank also serves small businesses in Georgia through checking accounts, savings accounts, business loans, treasury services, and merchant services. Even though it’s smaller than other banks on this list, Morris is technologically savvy and allows for online and mobile banking. Many residents believe Morris Bank is the best local bank.
12. Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank primarily serves the Midwest and has more than 33 banking centers and 80 ATMs at RaceTrac convenience stores. If you don’t want to visit a local branch, you can use the Fifth Third mobile app to transfer money, check balances and direct deposit transactions, and more.
While the bank’s most popular services are for individuals and small businesses, it also provides personalized wealth management solutions. These personalized wealth management solutions include private banking, wealth planning, trusts and estates, insurance, and investments.
As a wealth management customer, you can enjoy access to the Life360 site, which makes it easy to organize your finances and track your progress.
13. Truist Bank
Truist has physical locations in Georgia cities like Atlanta, Brunswick, Cartersville, and Pooler. Formerly known as BB&T, it offers a variety of personal and business banking products. You can select from five checking accounts, two savings accounts, one money market account, and CDs.
In addition to deposit accounts, Truist provides HSAs, prepaid cards, prepaid money account products, mortgages and home equity lines, personal loans, auto loans, investment products, retirement accounts, and personal insurance. Truist Mobile is the bank’s mobile app, which you may use to manage your account, deposit mobile checks, transfer money, locate branches, and pay bills.
14. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is a large national bank with more than 200 branches and over 600 ATMs in the Peach State. Just like most traditional banks, it offers a wide variety of banking products and services, such as savings and checking accounts, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, auto loan accounts, and investment accounts.
If you’re a small business owner in Georgia, you might want to consider Wells for business checking accounts, business savings accounts, business credit cards, small business loans, and merchant services.
The bank also offers a mobile app with LifeSync, a unique tool to monitor your spending habits and make smarter financial decisions. Additionally, Wells Fargo, which is considered the best national bank by many people, lets you automate your investing or work with a dedicated financial advisor.
Types of Banks in Georgia
There are several types of banks in the Peach State. Here’s an overview of the most common financial institutions you’ll find.
National banks are banks with a presence across the country. Most of them have branches and ATMs in Georgia and other parts of the U.S.
These types of banks typically offer a diverse lineup of products and may be a solid choice if you have varying financial needs as an individual or small business owner.
Community banks serve specific geographic areas. They’re similar to credit unions in that they prioritize personalized customer attention. In Georgia, you may choose from numerous community banks like Ameris Bank, United Community Bank, and Morris Bank.
Also known as virtual banks or neobanks, online banks are tech forward and make it easy to perform various banking needs online or via mobile devices. While they don’t have physical locations in Georgia, they do offer many perks that you might not be able elsewhere.
Some examples of online banks that serve Georgia residents are Ally Bank, CIT Bank, and Axos Bank. With these financial institutions, you may be able to avoid a monthly fee and secure a competitive annual percentage yield or APY.
Common Banking Products
It’s wise to figure out what types of banking products meet your particular banking needs. Several of these products include:
Checking accounts are ideal for everyday purchases. You can also use them to make deposits, pay bills, and more. Some checking accounts might charge monthly service fees or impose minimum opening deposits. However, they might waive them if you take certain actions, like enroll in autopay or sign up for paperless statements. To access your checking account funds, you can visit a local branch or ATM. Depending on the bank, you may even find a checking account that pays interest.
Savings accounts are places to store your cash for various personal finance goals, like a house down payment, new car, or even a dream vacation. It’s also a great place for an emergency fund, which features three to six months worth of expenses. In general, online savings accounts pay out higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. You’ll likely be able to make six free withdrawals per month.
High-Yield Savings Accounts
Compared to traditional savings accounts, high-yield savings accounts offer much higher interest rates. Typically, they don’t charge monthly or annual fees. If you’d like to open a high-yield savings account, consider an online bank as they’re not always available at traditional banks.
Certificates of Deposit
Certificates of deposit (CD) allow you to store your money for a certain amount of time while you earn interest. With a CD, you’ll usually be required to make a minimum initial deposit and choose a term. Typically, the longer the CD term, the higher interest rate you earn. If you’re looking for guaranteed returns, a CD is a solid choice.
Credit cards are a suitable option if you’d like to earn rewards, like cash back, travel points, gift cards, and merchandise. While some are free, others come with annual fees. Do the math and make sure an annual fee is worth the benefits before you go ahead and move forward with it.
These days, many financial institutions offer loans. Some loans are for personal use, such as personal loans, mortgages, and car loans. Other loan options are designed for businesses, like SBA loans, commercial real estate loans, and business lines of credit. Before you commit to a loan, review the interest rates and terms to ensure you can pay it back on time.
How to Choose a Bank in Georgia
As you can see, not all Georgia banks are created equal. In fact, there are many options at your disposal. To help you hone in on the right bank for your unique needs, we encourage you to consider these factors.
Most traditional banks have local branches throughout the Peach State. If you prefer an in-person banking experience, this is great news. However, you’ll likely be able to lock in better interest rates and lower fees if you opt for an online bank with less overhead costs. Fortunately, traditional and online banks usually both have mobile apps so you can bank from just about anywhere.
Some examples of common banking fees you might come across include monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, wire transfer fees, account closing fees, and dormancy fees. When you shop around for the perfect bank in Georgia, you’ll notice that larger banks with physical branches tend to charge more fees and higher fees than online banks.
Minimum Balance Requirements
Depending on the bank and accounts you choose, you might have to maintain a minimum balance. If you don’t, you’ll likely be on the hook for fees. Before you pursue a certain account, make sure you can comfortably afford the minimum balance requirement. The minimum balance may be thousands of dollars, so this is an important factor to consider.
Before you look for a Georgia bank, ask yourself what products and services you need. Maybe you’re seeking a personal checking account and savings account. Or perhaps you’re a Georgia business owner and in the market for business credit cards or business loans. Typically, national banks offer a greater selection of products and services than regional banks and credit unions.
There’s a good chance you’ll have questions or concerns once you decide on a bank. For this reason, it’s important to choose a financial institution with high customer service ratings and easy access to customer support. While some banks offer 24/7 customer service via phone, email, and live chat, others will only help you during select business hours.
Be sure to read reviews from real customers on reputable review sites. If you notice many negative reviews about the same topics, you may want to be cautious and look to other banking institutions. It’s also a good idea to check out ratings on websites, like Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Consumer Affairs. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for their recommendations on banks.
FDIC insurance will keep your money safe in the event your bank fails. The FDIC usually insures up to $250,000 per depositor. In addition to deposit accounts, it covers money orders, cashier’s checks, and other official products. Before you open an account at a bank, make sure it’s FDIC insured. Most banks have the FDIC insurance logo on their websites.
Some banks go above and beyond and offer more than traditional banking products and services, like checking accounts and savings accounts. You may want to look for extra perks like overdraft protection or assist credit monitoring services, introductory offers, foreign currency exchange accounts, robo advising, and credit cards with impressive rewards.
If you visit a bank’s website, you’ll know what it values. One bank might prioritize long standing customer relationships while another one is a socially responsible bank. If you’re debating between two banks, consider each institution’s values to help you make a decision.
The Peach State has no shortage of banks. However, the right one for you depends on numerous factors, like your preferred products and services, the types of fees you can afford and are willing to pay, and whether you’d like to bank online or in-person.
If you’re unsure of which bank makes the most sense for your situation, don’t hesitate to open accounts in a few of them. From there, you can hone in on the best option. Good luck with your search for the ideal bank in Georgia.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the largest banks in Georgia?
The largest banks in Georgia have the most branches throughout the state. These include Bank of America, Truist Bank, Ameris Bank, Fifth Third Bank, and Wells Fargo. All of these institutions are known for their extensive ATM networks and diverse product lineup.
How do I open a bank account in Georgia?
In most cases, you can open a bank account on the bank’s website or mobile app. You’ll likely need to submit a government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport, as well as personal information, such as your Social Security number.
What are some community banks in Georgia?
The Peach State has many community banks. The most popular options are Community Bank of Georgia, United Community Bank, Mountain Valley Community Bank, and Gwinnett Community Bank. Community banks are a solid choice if in-person service is important to you.
How can I avoid bank fees in Georgia?
If you don’t mind online or mobile banking, you’ll likely find fewer fees at an online bank. Also, some traditional banks may allow you to waive their fees. Since fees can eat into your savings and financial goals, you should do your best to avoid or reduce them.
Should I open an account at different banks in Georgia?
If you have large amounts of cash, you might want to open accounts at different banks. This is because the FDIC usually insures up to $250,000 per depositor and bank. This holds true even if you have several accounts with the same bank. You may also want to open different accounts if you want to take advantage of different benefits.
Is it better to choose a small bank or a large bank in Georgia?
Big banks offer a greater selection of products and services than small banks. But you might have to pay a monthly maintenance fee or make a minimum opening deposit. Small banks, on the other hand, take the time to get to know their customers and provide more personalized service. The ideal banking size depends on your particular priorities.
How can I easily switch bank accounts in Georgia?
First, gather basic information like your Social Security number or Tax Identification Number. Then, start the application process, fund your new accounts, and transfer funds from older accounts. Don’t forget to set up direct deposits and automate recurring payments. Some banks offer switch kits to simplify this process.
For those looking to build their dream home, purchasing land is usually the first big step.
While building a house is far from easy, there are ways for first-time homeowners to make their dreams achievable. Land loans are a great resource, often used in conjunction with a traditional loan. Anyone choosing to build a house is likely to at least consider applying for a land loan.
A land or lot loan is a great financing option for those who have always dreamed of buying land and building their own home.
11 Best Banks for Land Loans
Because land loans typically carry higher interest rates than traditional mortgage loans, it pays to carefully consider the pros and cons of several lenders.
Below we’ve compiled a detailed list of the banks and credit unions offering the best land loans available today. Whatever lender you choose, be sure to check beforehand that they are fully licensed to provide mortgage loans.
The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) is a centralized database of licensed lenders which you can use as a reference.
1. Atlantic Union Bank
Atlantic Union Bank offers land loans for both residential lots and undeveloped land. The bank is based in Virginia.
There are also separate construction loans available for those interested in financing the construction of a residence. Bear in mind that while Atlantic Union has a strong reputation as lenders, having been in business since 1902, they don’t have services like loan calculators, interest rate guidelines, or down payment information on their website.
For more information on a land loan with Atlantic, you’ll need to call them or visit a local branch to speak about a land loan.
2. Old National Bank
Old National Bank is headquartered in Indiana, and has been in operation since 1834. They offer lending products and services to residents of Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kentucky. Old National has two different types of financing for land on offer, depending on the size of the property you’re interested in:
Lot Loans are designed to finance land purchases of no more than 5 acres, requiring a 20% down payment.
Land Loans are for larger property, designed to finance land purchases between 5 and 25 acres. These loans come with a minimum down payment of 35%.
Both land and lot loans with Old National will carry various interest rates and repayment terms. You can get either of these loan types for both improved and unimproved land, and there is no obligation to immediately begin building once a loan is secured.
Old National Bank also has around 250 brick-and-mortar locations since merging with First Midwest Bank. If visiting a local branch to speak with a loan officer is your preference, you shouldn’t have to travel too far.
On the other hand, you also have the option of using Old National’s online loan calculator and online loan application service, if visiting a local branch isn’t convenient.
3. Mountain America Credit Union
Mountain America Credit Union is a federally chartered credit union regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and headquartered in Sandy, Utah. They locations across Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico.
Mountain America’s lot loans are available with 85% financing on approved credit, fully amortizing fixed-rate and balloon options, and an easy online application process. The loans are designed to be easily converted to a construction loan, ensuring that you can move forward with your home building plans when you’re ready.
4. WaFd Bank
WaFd, or Washington Federal, offers bank loans for improved land up to the value of $700,000, without any immediate obligations to build.
You can use their online loan calculator to receive an estimate of the interest rates you can expect for a land loan. These estimates are based on your credit score, development plans and the specifications of your desired property.
The minimum down payments and interest rates will vary depending on your ideal loan term, as well as all the other details of your application.
You can apply directly for loans through their online portal, as well as in person at a bank branch. Land loans are available from WaFd Bank only in the following states: Washington, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
5. Banner Bank
Banner Bank is active in the states of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. They offer financing for purchasing both improved and unimproved land. Banner allows customers to borrow up to 75% of a property’s purchase price, and they also claim to bring competitive interest rates and fees.
All loans with Banner Bank are approved in-house, which means a streamlined credit score check and loan approval process.
If you do apply for a loan with Banner Bank, you also have the option of locking in a fixed interest rate or a flexible rate. Banner also offers financing for construction and personal loans.
6. California Bank & Trust
Customers with California Bank and Trust can potentially avail of both a land loan and a construction loan in one. The bank offers financing for up to 60% of the lot purchase value, along with several loan options.
The option to choose either a single or dual-purpose loan, which can cover both land purchase and construction of a home, makes California Bank & Trust an attractive lender. This is a great option for those looking to save both time and money.
You can apply for a loan online, over the phone, or in person at a local branch.
7. Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union
Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union is not your typical financial institution. As a financial cooperative, its sole mission is to help members save time, save money, and earn money. Over the years, the credit union has expanded its reach to over 1 million members in Texas and beyond, with a strong presence in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio.
With over 60 branches dedicated to serving members and the community, RBFCU offers a range of land loan benefits and features, including term options up to 15 years, free 60-day rate lock, and up to 90% financing.
And the best part? There are no building requirements from the lender, so you can have the freedom to build your dream home the way you want. Set up automatic payments and let RBFCU help you make your land ownership dreams a reality.
8. Citizens Bank & Trust
Citizens Bank & Trust is a North Alabama-based institution that’s committed to providing a hassle-free lending experience. What’s more, you can roll your loan into a permanent one, saving you on closing costs.
With local decision-making and processing, you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve, while a streamlined application process ensures you get your funds when you need them. You can experience a stress-free borrowing experience when you choose Citizens Bank & Trust for your land loan needs.
9. Alpine Bank
Alpine Bank is active in Colorado, offering financial services including land loans. Specifically, they offer loans for both lot and new constructions, with a maximum loan to value amount of 75% for land classified as improved.
Alpine Bank doesn’t offer lending details on their website. You can use their website to connect with lending experts in your county. You can also reach out for more loan information online, over the phone, or in person at one of their local bank branches.
10. First Bank & Trust
If you’re looking to buy land or a lot and build your dream home, First Bank and Trust Company can help. Headquartered in southwest Virginia, with additional locations in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, the bank is committed to helping you realize your homeownership goals.
With a range of lot and land loans, you can choose the financing option that’s right for you, while enjoying competitive rates and flexible terms. Whether you’re looking to build your dream home or invest in a piece of land, First Bank and Trust Company has the financing options you need to make it happen.
11. First Hawaiian Bank
First Hawaiian Bank offers land loan options designed for those who are ready to buy land but not quite ready to build. With 2- and 3-year terms available and no prepayment penalty, you can secure the land you want without worrying about costly fees. And with interim financing available to purchase a vacant lot at residential pricing, you can lock down the land you need to bring your vision to life.
Best of all, your FHB land loan can be refinanced into a construction-to-permanent loan with reduced fees, making it easier than ever to get the financing you need to build your dream home.
What are land loans?
Land loans are loan products designed to help individuals and businesses purchase land for development. A bank, credit union, or online lender can offer specific loans for those interested in buying land. Land loans are also known as ‘lot loans’.
Similar to a mortgage loan, land loans provide individuals and small businesses the opportunity to finance the purchase of land for many purposes, such as investment, agriculture, recreation, or development.
However, because these types of loan are considered riskier for lenders, they typically come with a higher interest rate compared to a mortgage loan. In addition, the conditions of the loan will depend on the type of land being purchased, as well as what the land will be used for.
Let’s take a closer look at the types of land that a land loan can help finance.
Types of Land Classification
Your chances of obtaining financing for land will depend partly on the type of land you want to purchase. In general, lenders who offer land loans will view developed land as less of a risk than undeveloped land.
When it comes to land loans, there are three primary types of land considered for financing.
‘Raw land’ is the first classification and refers to completely undeveloped, rural land. Think no buildings, electricity or drainage system. This is the most difficult land to obtain financing for because land loan lenders view it as the greatest risk of abandonment.
As a result, if you plan to apply for a land loan for raw land, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve got a detailed plan for development. Showing lenders that you’re competent and dedicated to the project will help you navigate the lending market.
Although the purchase price of raw land is often cheaper than land that is developed, a raw land loan will come with higher rates. You may also be required to put up a more substantial down payment.
‘Unimproved land’ is a step up from raw land, and covers a broad variety of possibilities. Unimproved land will often be land that was once developed, or has seen failed attempts at development in the past. In some cases unimproved land will have some limited access to utilities and amenities, but will need significant repair and refurbishing.
An unimproved land loan can also be difficult to get, even though it poses less risk compared to raw land. Again, having a detailed plan and being aware of the challenges at hand will be a huge help when negotiating with lenders. A large down payment and a strong credit score will also be helpful.
While lenders tend to view unimproved land loans as less risky than raw land, it is still common for rates to be a fair bit higher compared to traditional mortgage rates, for example.
Improved Land Loan
‘Improved land’ typically has decent or good access to utilities, roads and water. Because improved land is the most developed land type, it almost always comes with a higher price tag. On the other hand, this means that interest rates will be significantly lower compared to raw or unimproved land loans. You’ll also find more affordable down payments for developed lots.
For most aspiring homeowners, purchasing land that is already developed with access to basic amenities is the ideal. This allows them to immediately get to work building a house, whereas having to develop land first could add at least another year to their construction project.
How to Apply for a Land Loan
If you want to buy land and build your dream home, you’ll probably want to apply for a land loan. Land loan applying isn’t complex, and land loans work the same as many other types of loan. Here are the steps involved:
Find a Plot
You should start by first identifying the plot of land you want to buy. It helps to have a few options chosen in advance. For example, in the event that you can’t afford to find a good lending option for your first choice, you can quickly move on to an alternative instead.
Draw up a Development Plan
The next step is to make a development plan for each plot that you have on your shortlist. You may need or want to hire professional help to create a solid plan. Try to include as much detail as possible, without overextending yourself or wasting too much time and money.
When it comes to development and construction plans, both an estimated timeframe and overall cost range are the most important details. A good plan will help you negotiate the best rates with a lender.
Find a Lender
Once your development plan is ready, it’s time to seek potential lenders. Depending on the type of development you’re proposing, as well as the type of land you want to buy, it may take some time to find willing lenders.
Be prepared to also take some time to consider more than one loan offer. Ideally, you can compare multiple lenders, and use a pre-approved quote from at least one lender to negotiate against others.
Complete the Application Process
Once you’ve chosen a lender and been approved for your loan, you’ll be guided through the lender’s application process. The majority of lenders will require information such as your development plan, a credit check, and personal information.
You might also need to provide details on things like zoning considerations, utilities access and land use restrictions, where relevant.
Alternative Land Financing Options
In addition to seeking a land or construction loan, there are several other types of loans and financing options available.
If you’re looking to own land and build a home in a rural area, you may be eligible for a USDA loan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers loans that may assist low and moderate income families in finding a new home. USDA Section 523 loans are for wanting to purchase land to develop, and Section 524 loans are for financing new constructions by contractors.
While it isn’t easy to qualify for a USDA loan, the benefit is they require no down payment and the interest rates are low. USDA loans must be settled within two years, however, so there are no long term options.
Another government-funded product, FHA loans are tailored towards those wanting to buy land and quickly build a home. The Federal Housing Administration insures these loans, protecting FHA-approved lenders from risk.
FHA loans are not available for land purchase alone, but for those intending to build a home on as well as land. FHA loans are sometimes granted in conjunction with construction loans, too. If you’re eligible for one of these loans, you’ll likely have a lower minimum down payment, but potentially higher interest rates.
Home Equity Loans
Home equity loans may be an appealing alternative to land loans for some homeowners. If you already own a property and have good credit standing, this kind of loan might be a good fit. A home equity loan acts as a second mortgage, and will essentially convert your equity into collateral for a new loan to fund your purchase.
Cash-out refinancing involves homeowners refinancing their homes to increase equity. This type of refinancing is essentially paying off your current mortgage to secure another mortgage, but with a lower interest rate and easier monthly payments.
Once the remortgaging is made official, your bank or financial institution will issue you a check based on the equity in your property. You can then use this payment to fund your land purchase.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loans to small business owners from the 504 loan program.
These loans are best suited to the purchase of real estate for business reasons, so they are not ideal for regular homeowners. However, if you’re looking for land to purchase to grow your business, you might want to consider an SBA loan.
Generally, the Small Business Administration will cover 40% of the purchase value, with 10% from the borrower and another lender of choice providing the other half of the loan. The terms and rates on SBA loans vary depending on the lender you choose to fund 50% of the land purchase.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to obtain financing directly from the landowner you want to buy from. Also known as land contracts, these types of loans involve the buyer essentially taking out a loan directly from the seller, often with a substantial down payment.
Seller financing also tends to come with less than competitive interest rates. For those who struggle to qualify for a traditional mortgage or financing, seller financing can often be a great, but more costly, alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best loan for buying land?
The best loan option for buying land depends on your circumstances. While improved land loans may seem ideal, the reality is there are multiple loan options to choose from.
Your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and the condition of the land you wish to purchase are all factors that can influence which type of financing will suit you best.
Is it difficult to get a loan for land?
It’s true that obtaining loan financing for the purchase of land isn’t as easy as getting a regular personal loan. However, there are lenders out there with experience financing land purchases. As with any loan, the bottom line will be your credit score, as well as the size of your down payment. The nature of the land in question is also a primary factor.
If you can’t qualify for traditional financing options, there are alternatives such as USDA loans, FHA loans and more to consider.