Small-Business Lending Heats Up

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thawing-ice.jpgAt the moment, things are looking up in credit markets, and the market for U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loans is no exception.

According to a Wall Street Journal article today, $1.3 billion in new SBA loans have been approved--up more than 20 percent--since mid-March, after President Obama announced new initiatives that would cut lending fees and increase guarantees on small-business loans to as much as 90 percent.

Another measure that has driven up volume is the $15 billion in federal funding dedicated to unfreezing the secondary market for SBA loans, where lending institutions can sell a portion of these loans (at a premium) to investors. The increased liquidity then allows lenders to make even more loans.

The new program appears to be working, says Mike Rozman, president of Edgeware Analytics, Inc. He points to increased activity at (an abbreviation of Government Guaranteed Loan Exchange), an online platform the company launched to connect buyers and sellers of government guaranteed loans.

Since Obama's speech, Rozman has seen a 132 percent increase in bids per loan, a 180 percent increase in lender membership applications and a 365 percent increase in loan amounts presented for sale. Even more telling is this comparison: In the 30 days before the President's speech, there were $7.8 million in loan sales; 30 days later, the total was $36.3 million.

"A handful of things are clear," Rozman says. "We're seeing growth surpass last year's. The volume of loans for sale, the level of bidding activity and the premiums have gone up."

So have things turned a corner? "In the niche of SBA's secondary lending market, it certainly appears that we have," he says.

For more on the SBA's new programs, see Entrepreneur's Q&A with SBA District Director Alberto Alvarado.

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