Guidance for Small Business Loans and Grants

NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS® and their clients are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19. Many REALTORS® are small businesses, or work with them as clients. In the most recent relief package passed into law, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or CARES Act, there were significant provisions aimed at assisting small businesses during this difficult time.  Check out the program FAQS.

 SBA 7(a) “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP)

The PPP loans are based on the average monthly payroll expenses of a business, multiplied by 2.5 and capped at $10 million. They are intended to cover expenses for a business during any 8-week period between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. They can be used for payroll costs, rents, mortgage interest, and utilities. If a business owner maintains a certain level of payroll expenses and employee numbers during that 8-week period, the loan is 100% forgiven; as employees go below those levels, the forgivable amount is phased out. In addition to small businesses that meet current SBA requirements, any business with 500 or fewer employees, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and “gig economy” workers qualify for the 7(a) PPP loans. Key Dates: Beginning April 3, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for SBA 7(a) PPP loans with an approved SBA lender.  Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning April 10. Learn more.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grant

The EIDL grants are a new feature of the EIDL program. SBA EIDL loans are available for small businesses that have suffered economic harm during a declared disaster.  The COVID-19 crisis has been declared an eligible disaster. The limit on these loans is $2 million. Under the CARES Act, applicants can receive a $10,000 advance on their EIDL loans from lenders which will be disbursed within three business days of applying. That $10,000 advance would be forgivable. EIDL loans can be used to provide paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to COVID-19, maintaining payroll, meeting increased costs due to supply chain disruptions, rent or mortgage payments, and repaying debt obligations. Under the CARES Act, an EIDL is available to any small business or business with 500 or fewer employees (or an industry size standard above 500 set by the Administration) that experiences an economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. This includes sole proprietors, independent contractors, tribal businesses, and cooperatives. A business must make a good-faith certification that it is suffering an economic injury due to the COVID-19 crisis. The SBA has updated its EIDL application page to reflect the new streamlined process for COVID-19 relief. NAR has FAQs available.


The City of Chicago recognizes that COVID-19 has put a difficult burden on the business and non-profit community. As a response to this challenge, the City of Chicago has established the $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund (the Resiliency Fund), which will provide small businesses and non-profits with emergency cash flow during this health crisis. Funds will be provided to eligible businesses as low-interest loans. The Resiliency Fund is structured to complement the new federal Paycheck Protection Program that the Small Business Administration (SBA) will launch shortly. The City and its partners will seek to provide all Resiliency Fund loan applicants with the best offer available, including from the SBA’s new program. All loan applications will be administered through lending partners, including Accion Serving Illinois and Indiana and the Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF). The Fund continues to build partnerships with additional lenders to help provide loans to small businesses and non-profits all over Chicago.


In order to qualify for the unemployment benefits in the relief bill, REALTORS® must apply for benefits in Illinois through the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”). However, based on the most recent guidance provided as of Mar. 31, 2020, those who are self-employed and independent contractors should not apply until further notice. Learn more.