Live Oak Bank Review: Business & SBA Loans
Need help finding a lender?
- Date Established
- Wilmington, NC
- High borrowing amounts
- Rates tend to be inexpensive
- Long-term financing options available
- Financing is suited for business growth needs
- Borrower qualifications may be hard to meet
- Collateral is required (in some cases)
- The application process is slow and involved
- Website advertising is not informative
Live Oak Bank is a North Carolina-based FDIC-insured bank offering term loans and SBA loans to small businesses.
As a relatively young bank, Live Oak is less traditional than many of its competitors, offering speed and convenience to prospective lenders in all 50 states. The convenience comes with some trade-offs, however, including a limited breadth of products available to a limited number of industries. Live Oak also emphasizes its SBA loans and is, in fact, one of the biggest originators of that type of loan in the country. As an SBA Preferred Lending Partner, it’s able to process those loans more quickly than your typical lender (don’t expect blazing speeds, though; it’s still an SBA loan).
Not sure if Live Oak Bank is the right lender for you? Read on.
Table of Contents
- Business Term Loans: You get a lump sum from the lender. You’ll pay back the amount you borrowed (called the principal) plus interest over a length of time called a “term.”
- SBA Loans: Many small business borrowers have trouble getting good terms and rates. To help small businesses find competitive lending, the Small Business Administration offers programs wherein it guarantees a percentage of a loan made by a qualifying lender.
Here are the borrower qualifications for getting a loan from Live Oak Bank:
|Time In Business:||3 years|
|Business Revenue:||Varies by loan amount|
|Personal Credit Score:||680|
Live Oak lends to all 50 states and is willing to work with all types of businesses, but it specializes in lending to the above sectors.
Terms & Fees
Live Oak Bank offers the following financial products to small businesses.
Small Business Loans
Live Oak breaks its loan products down by industry, with variations in terms depending on the type of business it’s lending to. Here are the terms for Live Oak’s small business loans, broadly speaking:
|Borrowing Amount:||$75,000-$7.5 million|
|Term Length:||Up to 25 years|
Live Oak offers term loans for a variety of business purposes. The bank doesn’t disclose too many specifics about its loans beyond term lengths and borrowing limits and instead stresses flexibility catered to the borrower’s industry and speed.
There are no prepayment penalty fees for loans with terms shorter than 15 years.
These are the terms and fees for Live Oak Bank’s SBA loans:
|Borrowing Amount:||Up to $5 million|
|Term Length:||Up to 25 years|
|Interest Rate:||See current rates|
|Other Fees:||SBA fee of 0%-3.5% of the borrowing amount
Bank fees (amount unknown)
|Collateral:||Commercial real estate, inventory, equipment|
Live Oak Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender, a designation that allows the lender to process SBA loans more quickly. In fact, the bank has developed a reputation for being an unusually fast SBA lender, with turnaround times of under two months being possible.
The two most popular SBA loans are the 7(a) and 504 loans. The Small Business Administration partially guarantees these loans, which allows the borrower to access better rates and terms than they would otherwise be able to.
You can start your application online with or without an existing business account, or submit a form requesting contact from a loan specialist. Estimates for Live Oak’s small business loan decisions run as short as ten days. While the bank has taken great pains to speed up the SBA loan approval process, be prepared to wait a month (at minimum) for processing, with 45 days being the typical turnaround. You should also be prepared to submit the extensive documentation the SBA requires.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Live Oak presents a minimal amount of product information on its website. The small business loans section is broken down by industry but, with a few exceptions, doesn’t present much unique information in any of those subheadings.
Customer Service & Technical Support
You can reach Live Oak Bank through email, via the contact form on the company website, by phone, or through social media (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).
Client reviews of Live Oak’s customer service are mixed, trending toward positive.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Live Oak Bank is currently unrated by the BBB, with no complaints or reviews on file. Customer reviews are scattered across various aggregators and social media sites. Some of the more common complaints about Live Oak Bank include:
- Slow Processing: Checking and savings account customers have complained about the speed to which their deposits were credited to their accounts.
- Opaque Website: Some customers complained about the difficulty of getting concise information about Live Oak’s products.
- Specialized By Industry: While the list above isn’t exhaustive, you’ll stand a much better chance of being approved if you fall into one of the industries that Live Oak Bank specializes in lending to.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Live Oak Bank does offer several advantages to potential borrowers:
- Available Nationwide: Live Oak Bank lends to businesses in all 50 states, a rarity for banks.
- Preferred SBA Lender: Live Oak Bank is one of the fastest SBA partners in the business.
- Non-Traditional Bank: Live Oak offers many of the advantages of a traditional bank with some of the conveniences of an alternative lender.
Live Oak Bank offers many advantages to businesses looking for a modern bank with geographically decentralized conveniences. Companies seeking SBA loans, in particular, should give Live Oak a closer look, as the lender seems to have honed the application process down to a science. However, if you’re looking for lines of credit or are in an industry that doesn’t fall within Live Oak’s specialty portfolio, there’s not much here for you.