Consider how you appear to a bank by reviewing your cash, credit, and character before applying for a loan.
Caring for patients may come naturally, but you may find that navigating the lending process isn’t as straightforward as diagnosing a sinus infection.
Whether starting a new practice, expanding an existing one, or relocating to a new permanent space, there may come a time when you need external funding to elevate your career to the next step.
Deciding which loan you will apply for is only half of the battle. Lenders are going to examine you personally and professionally to determine your credit worthiness. You need to make a strong case for why a lender should issue you a loan.
Before you head to the bank, it may be beneficial to complete a personal audit so you can improve any shortcomings and maximize your chances of receiving the needed funding. To begin, review the three C’s to financing: cash, credit, and character.
To determine your credit worthiness and ability to repay your loan, your lender will first take a look at your complete financial profile. This may include your personal assets, expenses, and financial history.
Most lenders prefer that you have at least a 10 percent down payment, but you should also have an additional 5 to 10 percent available to cover project costs and overages. These expenses are often underestimated and overlooked, but failure to have additional cash on hand could lead to trouble. Whatever the amount, it is important that you do not completely drain your bank account to meet your down payment requirements.
In addition to maintaining your current lifestyle, you need a cash reserve in case of emergencies. Take inventory of all your assets - property, stocks, investments, and anything else you could liquidate quickly. If you aren’t confident that you have enough capital to keep you out of financial trouble, it may be wisest to postpone your purchase.
Your personal credit rating will have a large influence on your loan. Lenders like to see a FICO score of at least 650, and your credit history will also be thoroughly examined. An excessive number of late payments and multiple charge-offs are bad signs. Delinquent accounts, foreclosures, and outstanding debt are also red flags. Unfavorable information on your credit report does not automatically mean your loan will be denied, but it will affect the interest rate and amount of funds you receive.
To avoid a higher annual percentage rate and stricter loan terms, get a copy of your credit report before approaching a lender and verify that all of the information is accurate. Credit report errors are common. However, failure to resolve an error before applying for a loan could have a negative impact.
While a lender’s primary job is to examine your financial status, most will also take a look at who you are as a person. If possible, establish a relationship with the lender beforehand or reconnect with a lender. If the two of you have worked together in the past, she may be more inclined to do business with you and assist in ways that best suit your needs.
Your reputation can take you very far, and an established relationship of trust could potentially overshadow faults in your financial history. A lender who sees that you have taken action to aggressively pay down your debt may disregard the fact that you do not have $50,000 in assets. Similarly, evidence that you constantly pay your taxes late may overshadow your near perfect credit score.
Your practice’s reputation and history can also affect a lender’s decision. If you’re a profitable practice with good community standing, you’re an attractive loan candidate. However, frequent employee turnover, poor ratings, and lack of community support may cause a lender to shy away from your practice.
You should remain professional and courteous during communications with your lender at all times to reassure her that you are worthy of funding. The loan process could be lengthy, so make sure you are available and willing to provide the additional information your lender requests. Go the extra mile for her, and she will go the extra mile for you.
Expanding or transitioning into a new property to support your business goals is a huge investment. Understanding the three C’s of financing puts you one step ahead of the game. With the right mix of cash, credit, and character, you can deftly navigate the lending process, negotiate a loan with favorable terms, and own the practice of your dreams in no time.
Jessie Marolis is the senior vice president of United Community Bank’s Healthcare SBA vertical. Jessie has more than 10 years of dental and medical lending experience. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University.