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LAST UPDATED: December 7th, 2022

Founded in 2008 with the purpose of innovating traditional banking processes, Live Oak Bank provides small business loan options to business owners in niche industries. It is one of the largest business loan processors in the United States, with a strong portfolio of small business lending products. Live Oak Bank is a preferred Small Business Association (SBA) Lender, so you can get an SBA loan, a USDA loan, or a commercial loan. 

Live Oak is also a financial institution offering personal and business banking services. So alongside a business loan, you can utilize this online bank for your personal savings account, business savings account or high-yield CD account. 

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The Good

  • Loan Options
  • Industry Expertise
  • Technology
  • Customer Service

Loan Options

Live Oak Bank has loan solutions for the following financial goals: 

  1. Buy an existing business or franchise
  2. Build a storefront
  3. Scale operations with an expansion loan

With Live Oak Bank, you’ve got lots of options in regards to loan type and amount. The loan amounts available vary by product, but with an SBA 7(a) loan you can get up to $5 million and with an SBA 504 you can get up to $15 million. 

Loan terms can go up to 25 years. Equity requirements and interest rates vary depending on borrower qualifications like credit score, revenue, and time in business. 

Industry Expertise

SBA Loans

Notably, the company has competitive expertise and recognition surrounding SBA loans: In 2020, Live Oak Bank was the nation’s top SBA 7(a) and USDA commercial lender by dollar amount.

Live Oak Bank focuses almost exclusively on providing customers with access to SBA-approved loan products, which means they are more difficult to qualify for but significantly cheaper in the long run when you take interest rate into account. These loans include the standard SBA 7(a), 504, and micro-financing loan programs. 

Industry-Specific Loans

With each area of niche business, Live Oak Bank provides customers with account managers who specialize in their industry. The business advisory group at Live Oak Bank has a servicing director for each of the niche markets served. Live Oak Bank has specialized in veterinary practices,agriculture, pharmacy, healthcare, and other industries.

Construction financing is another one of its specialties. The company facilitates all documentation throughout the closing and construction disbursement process. Then after a construction loan closes and construction begins, the Live Oak Bank team walks borrowers through the process, working directly with the approved contractor and architect on construction-related items. 


The company’s portal technology simplifies its loan process from application through funding. From the portal, you can upload documents securely, fill out outline forms, and electronically sign documents.  

The portal has real-time transparency so customers know where they’re at in the approval process and what is happening with each step. 

Customer Service

The customer service relationship doesn’t end when the loan is funded. With Live Oak Bank, you’re given a devoted business analyst who will share detailed financial analysis and guidance throughout the life of your loan. 


The Bad

  • Minimum Loan Amount
  • Vague Application Information
  • Unresolved Negative Reviews 

Minimum Loan Amount

Live Oak Bank allows for huge loan amounts, up to $15 million, but cannot cater to businesses needing small loan amounts. Loans start at $150,000. 

Vague Application Information

There is very little support on the website for initiating the loan process. The only form that is online is a referral form, that lets the bank reach out to potential customers. There is also not a lot of information for the turnaround of the loan approval and access to funds. 

Typically, the SBA loans can be approved within 36 hours, but in some instances, it can take businesses as long as 30 days to access the funds, depending upon the type of SBA loan purchased. On average, clients will have funding within a week, but it may take longer.

Unresolved Negative Reviews

While there are not a lot of Live Oak Bank reviews in our repository, the company has not yet responded to the negative reviews referencing issues with the application process and construction loan protocols. 


The Bottom Line

Live Oak Bank offers a competitive portfolio of loan products including SBA loans, USDA loans, and commercial loans. The website specifically lists conventional loans and lines of credit as options to combine with SBA loans to create a personalized loan package. Since you can generally get a more competitive rate with SBA loans than with alternative business loans, they are definitely worth looking into. 

However, we would like to see more information on the Live Oak Bank website, such as details regarding conventional loan and line of credit options as well as case studies for a sample interest rate or loan amount. This ensures that clients have enough information to choose the best services for their situation. 

It's nice that Live Oak Bank is one of the few in the industry that has niche business lending specialists. But due to unresolved negative user reviews, we are inclined to recommend higher-ranked lenders. 

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6 Reviews

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Jerry_In_MA Fiskdale, MA

Jan 26th, 2018 How can I describe the account setup process with Live Oak bankl? In one word… ridiculous! I provided all the information they requested to open a $20k CD last Friday. By the following Thursday I still hadn’t heard back from them (in complete contravention of their claimed 2 day response for opening new accounts). So I sent them an email asking what the status was. Later that day I received an email stating they were still reviewing my application and that they still needed some additional paperwork. Now, I’m a 70 year old, white male, own my own $500k home, 18 acres of land, no mortgage, and I’m retired (used to be a Regional Sales Manager for a Fortune 250 company). Oh yeh, did I mention I have an 822 credit score? What I don’t have is bills. The electric bill is in my wife’s name (she kept her maiden name because she owns her own company). We don’t have a large electric bill cause we have solar. We don’t have gas, we use oil. And we don’t have a water bill since we have our own well. So, what’s the problem? According to Live Oak bank, my Social Security number, house address, bank references and 20 minutes of filling in their application weren’t enough. They needed an electric bill in MY name to prove that was my home address! Really? The alternative, according to their ‘lack of customer service’ department, was to provide them with my IRS tax statement! What!? You want my most personal info to prove the house is mine? In this day and age you can’t figure out how to find out if this is my address? I even offered to provide a copy of my passport. What about a copy of my credit report? Nope. Not acceptable. Electric bill in MY name or my taxes. That’s it! So, let’s see. That means that any men who have their wives names on the utility bills won’t be able to open an account. Or, god forbid, you have a well instead of city water! But you can ALWAYS provide them with your tax return! Nope. Not happening. So, frustrated, I contacted Synchrony Bank, filled in their easy (and quick) CD application on-line and had the account ready to go within hours… and they are currently paying 2% on 12 month CD’s. So now Synchrony Bank has my $20k, not Live Oak. Congrats Synchrony Bank! Major fail Live Oak.

6 years ago

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Gloria Greene Easton, MD

I would not recommend Live Oak Bank for any loan, after speaking with Mr. Kelly he pretty much deemed us ineligible for the program just by talking to me and before even running our credit report. After speaking with him briefly I knew that he was not a representative that I wanted to be dealing with for such a big project. My son and my fiance' were also on the loan, they both have no credit history at all, and after telling me that they do sometimes help people with not credit get an approval, with a co-signer, now mind you when I spoke to Mr. Kelly the first time we asked him if we could get a co-signer would that help, and his response was "we don't work with co-signers" after I mentioned this to Mr. Murphy, after he stated that we could use a co-signer than he says, we Mr. Kelly was sort of right, and I think that was because, yes we are able to get a co-signer. Bottom line you have to be a certain type of person to be approved for an AGRICULTURE loan from this company....Don't even bother trying, if you don't, and I'll say it like Mr. Murphy said it, "if you don't fit their bill" you will NOT be approved no matter what you do. My advice, take your business somewhere else and don't waste your time with #LIveOakBank. If you disagree and had a GREAT experience with them and they did all they could do to help you....well....I guess you "fit their bill" and congratulations. G. Greene Maryland

8 years ago

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Donarae Dunwoody Rancho Cucamonga, CA

This bank micro manages the construction project. It sends pre chosen construction inspectors to come to the job, check the hired construction companies work , then and only then do they pay the draw on the loan, which is unusual but ok. Then the very last draw which is usually the biggest their ppl come out and the bank decides not to pay the final payment. They figure they got the job done and it will be tied up for years in court, then they have a small chance of not having to pay at all!! The question is if the loan is for a certain amount and it comes up less does the person borrowing the money keep the money from the final payment for himself, then just make the loan payments or does the bank just take the amount off the total loan. What ever the case the construction co and contractor is SOL and yes it takes years to get the money.How do they get away with it?????

8 years ago

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jrt Caro, MI

Dysfunctional customer service. CS answers are unreliable. Call again and get a different answer. LOB welcomes your incoming funds, and puts up barriers to removing your funds. Ask to speak with management — denied. So that’s my experience, there are many better options for your deposits that do in fact provide customer service.

1 year ago