The Simple Strategy to Get Your Loan Approved (Almost) Every Time [With Example!]

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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.

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.

VA loan

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:

Image 1

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:

Image 2

Then I have three subfolders that include the following:

  1. 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)
  2. 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
  3. 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.



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!

About Author

Andrew Syrios

Andrew Syrios has been investing in real estate for over a decade and is a partner with Stewardship Investments, LLC along with his brother Phillip and father Bill. Stewardship Investments focuses on the BRRRR strategy—buying, rehabbing and renting out houses and apartments throughout the Kansas City area. Today, they have over 300 properties and just under 500 units. Stewardship Properties on the whole has just under 1,000 units in six states. Andrew received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon with honors and his Masters in Entrepreneurial Real Estate from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He has also obtained his CCIM designation (Certified Commercial Investment Member). Andrew has been a writer for BiggerPockets on real estate and business management since 2015. He has also contributed to Think Realty Magazine, REI Club, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Data Driven Investor and Alley Watch.


  1. Douglas Skipworth

    Andrew, that is a very impressive packet of information you share with the banks. We have lots of local bank partners that we use and they way you lay out your info would knock their socks off. I’m definitely going to start using your tips. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Bryan O.

    Absolutely! Someone had an article on here a while ago with what they present to the lender. I took that idea and created a nicely bound, organized, and tabbed printout of all everything they needed when I met them to discuss what I was after. They were very impressed and mentioned a couple of times that the have never seen such a well thought out or presented package. The loan was approved.

  3. Bryce Jamison

    Good Stuff. There is a chapter in Robert Kiyosaki’s book, The Real Book of Real Estate, that goes over the same concept. The more info you can provide and the more professional you seem the better chance your loan gets accepted.

  4. david c.

    Thanks for the post. I do something very similar, before I ever apply I have all the typically required info all in pdf’s labeled with my name what it is. The day I apply they have it all starting out, tax returns,w-2’s tax statements on each property etc etc. I get the feeling they have to hound people for info, so I think having them everything up front from day one is a big reason to work your loan first. Also as it goes along I have them anything else they request within 24hrs and answer any question asap. I’m never the one slowing down the process. One thing that also seems to be working well is to only give them the financial info needed to qualify. What I meen by that is not to give out more personal financials then are required. So I use my retirement account $$ to meet the reserve requirements, and then any down payment I’ll be using is in a stand alone saving account for the 60 days before I even start the process. I don’t turn over any of my other checking accounts info or or other investment or savings info. In the past I would just give it all but it seemed to always bring up alot more questions and scrutiny. I’ll never forget being asked about 16$ dollars of income on my wife’s tax return from the two years previous return. They were afraid she had a business and even tho it made 16$’s that year it might loose money in the future. I was like WHAT!! Now that was at the worst of the crash time, but it taught me to be selective.Nothing to hide here, but sometime’s more info then needed isn’t a good thing. My 2 cents, thanks for the article

    • Andrew Syrios

      Absolutely, that’s a very good point! Our best lender stopped lending to us recently which was so weird because we were finally getting through with others. Never expect a bank to stay around forever. Plus, many of them have lending limits with any one client.

  5. Jeff Feldman

    I would just add don’t use acronyms. Spell everything out and keep it simple. Don’t assume the loan officer or underwriter know what arv or any common investor lingo means. Can’t say I even knew until I started doing more research after my first few flips. But I did go in and ask around for all the required docs and info before applying which made my second+ loans much simpler/quicker

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