There is a bit of a myth out there that when it comes to getting financing from a traditional bank, it’s all about meeting their criteria and nothing more. However, try as they might, banking is still the “relationship business” it was once sold as. And this means that it’s not just what’s on your tax return that gets you approved or not, but often how well you can sell yourself. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free Remember, each bank approves or declines your loan in committee. Yes, it might get declined before then if the underwriters aren't impressed, but it will never be approved before then. The loan officer you're working with, who will probably be a vice president if it's a local bank (since half the people who work at banks seem to be vice presidents), will present your loan proposal to the committee and they will vote either "yes" or "no" on it. As you can see, this is not nearly the computerized algorithm that many think it is. Yes, your financial strength will certainly be the key issue. But you can’t change that much in the short term. Fortunately there is something you can do to better your odds. Remember, much of your fate will depend on 1) how well they understand your underlying financial position and 2) how well the lender presenting the deal sells it to the committee. We’ll deal with each separately. Related: Confessions of an Ex-Banker: How to Get Your Next Loan Approved, Guaranteed. Presenting Your Financials First of all, it is absolutely critical to keep good records. A confused mind says “no” every time. Good records and financial statements will both make it so any potential lender isn’t confused and make you come off as a professional who knows what you are doing. If you need to pay more to get better records, it’s worth doing. The next thing is to gather all the pertinent documents and send them in. I have grown very fond of using Dropbox to deliver these documents. Our submissions looks like this: In the folder I have our business plan and the loan request, as well as a document with all of our contact information, websites and a few references. I also include a "Start Here" word document that walks them through our company's business plan, financials and the property or portfolio we're looking to refinance. This is probably only necessary for those with complicated financials, though. The loan request should be an easy-to-read data tape with the property(ies) you're looking to refinance and any other information you have on it. Here's one example we recently made: Then I have three subfolders that include the following: Company Documents: Company-Wide Balance Sheets (current and last three years) Schedule of Real Estate Owned Operating Statements (current and last three years) Liquidity/Bank statements Current Rent Roll Company Tax Returns (last three years) Global Cash Flow Analysis (this is only because our financials are complicated; you probably don’t need this) Company Flow Chart (if you’re organizational structure is complicated) Partners and Staff Updated Personal Financial Statement Personal Tax Returns (last three years) Credit Reports (if available, they’ll run their own, but it’s nice to include) Resumes for You, Other Partners and Key Staff Members Property or Portfolio Documents Balance Sheets (current and last three years) Operating Statements (current and last three years) Current Rent Roll Interior and Exterior Pictures Internal Evaluations Such as CMA’s (if available) Old Appraisals (if available) Pro Forma Now, not all of this is necessary, and you may want to add or subtract from this list. After all, they’ll rely mostly on the appraisal, which will have pictures of the properties in them. But the appraisals are ordered after approval. While they’ll probably drive by the properties beforehand, I want them to feel acquainted with what they’re lending on. My goal when submitting documents isn’t to give the lender everything they need. My goal is to blow them away. I want my submission to be better than any they’ve gotten in the past. When you give them everything they need (and more) in a clear and organized way with updated, quality financials, you’ve definitely set things off on the right foot. Related: The Five “C’s” of a Perfect Loan Proposal Selling the Lender (to Sell Your Loan to Committee) It would definitely be a mistake to see the loan officer you're working with as just the guy who's going to crunch numbers and let the computer tell you whether you are approved or not. You want to impress this person. Don’t be fake or offer false flattery, but don’t be afraid to shoot the breeze. If you talk for an hour before actually getting down to business, that’s a good thing, not a waste of time. Take the lender out to lunch. Ask her to come by your office (if you have one) or to view one of your recently finished remodels (if available). These things go a long way. Indeed, one lender even mentioned to us they noted my father’s list of vehicles as proof that we weren’t frivolous because my dad likes to buy cheap junkers inexpensive vehicles. So you never know what will be a selling point with them. When bankers request additional documents, provide them promptly. Call to follow up and answer any questions they have as quickly and thoroughly as you can. And again, don’t be afraid to chit chat. Remember, you are selling yourself to this person so that they will sell you to the committee. If you come off uninspired to her, in all likelihood she will come off as uninspired to the committee. Conclusion Banking may be more regulated and computerized than ever, but it is still a relationship business, and therefore it is still important to have sales skills when it comes to getting your loans. In the last year, we have developed this approach and seen our results skyrocket. Of course, much of this has to do with the lending environment improving. But as recently as two years ago, we had only been approved by one bank in Kansas City and rejected routinely. Today we get approved almost every time. Indeed, the vice president at the one bank that did accept us two years ago mentioned to me that the fact that I was young probably turned off a lot of banks. What better way to counter a perception like that than to provide them the best loan submission package they've ever seen? Investors: What strategies do YOU use to improve your chances of being approved by banks? Leave your comments below!