Anyone interested in financing a business purchase in the past year or so knows how difficult it can be to accomplish that objective. The problems that hit the banking industry with the mortgage meltdown starting in 2007 have made most loan officers very cautious about lending to entrepreneurs wanting to buy small or mid-sized businesses for sale in California. And the impact has been experienced in a slower rate of business transfers over the past couple of years.
But resourceful California entrepreneurs are not waiting for a return to the old days when lenders were more eager to cooperate, and there was plenty of home equity to use as additional collateral. They are pursuing other avenues to get the cash needed to conclude their transactions.
Two of the most widely used strategies are:
1. Increased use of seller financing. The number of sellers insisting on all-cash deals has declined over the past year or so. Business owners ready to retire or move on to another enterprise are discovering it may take a very long time to find a buyer willing and able to comply with that difficult requirement. And most likely, the buyer able to cash out the seller will insist on a substantial price discount.
Along with the change of heart among sellers about helping to finance, now that bank loans aren't as easy to come by, is an increase in the amounts that finance-willing sellers are agreeing to lend, as a percentage of the total price. The amount of seller loans, which averaged one-fifth to one-third of the total price up until about two years ago, is now in the 25% to 40% range. Sellers may not like the idea of getting less money at close of escrow than did the entrepreneurs who sold before the financial crisis. But increasing their assistance to a buyer who is financing a business purchase, may mean the difference between selling and not selling a business.
2. Smarter loan applications. And the difference for the buyer, between making and not making a purchase, can depend on how well a loan application is prepared. The SBA has been working hard, and getting some Congressional support, to persuade its preferred lenders to offer SBA loan programs to small business owners who want to expand, or entrepreneurs who want to purchase a small business.
Even with some purchase money available through these programs, the challenge is getting your application accepted by a lender. Responding to that challenge, and with the aid of smart California loan brokers who specialize in working with the SBA programs, applicants are getting better at submitting applications that get the stamp of approval.
For one thing, buyers know they're much more likely to get purchase money funds when their background matches the industry in which the business is involved. SBA loan backed lenders take their cue from the federal agency, which strongly favors the idea of business buyers doing exactly what they do best, rather than plunging into unfamiliar waters when they buy a business. The applicant with a retail food service background has a better chance of getting funds to buy a restaurant than does the person whose experience involves industrial engineering. And it's common now for a loan applicant to include a business plan, demonstrating to the lender that the borrower has thought about how to operate the enterprise and to make sure it produces enough cash to repay the loan.
Additionally, many buyers are getting in the habit of pre-qualifying for SBA loan programs, even before a suitable business is found. This approach enables the buyer to learn how much they can borrow and to fine-tune the application for a specific business, once it is identified. Pre-qualification also is a smart negotiating strategy for the person who'll need help financing a business purchase. Once given the general green lightŁ by a lender, the buyer usually can expect a fast response when requesting funds for a specific purchase. That means she'll be prepared to proceed with a deal before other potential buyers have made much progress at finding the money--a strong selling point when discussing price and terms with the seller.
While financing a business purchase has become more difficult in the current economic environment, resourceful Californians still are finding ways to access the needed money.
About the Author: Since 1994, Peter Siegel, MBA has been assisting business buyers with business purchase financing solutions (SBA loans, Commercial Financing, Retirement Plan Conversions, Hard Money loans, etc) and business purchase financing pre-qualifications. For more information on business acquisition financing and the BizBen ProBuy Program phone Peter Siegel direct at 866-270-6278.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Helen Yoo: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California
New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.
|Mark Chatow, Esq.: Legal Services For Buying, Selling Businesses
Mark has a broad range of small business purchase & sale experience from analyzing potential acquisition targets to successfully guiding buyers and sellers through the purchase & sale of small businesses. Mark can assist with contracts, negotiations, legal matters, etc. Reach Mark at 949-478-8393.
|Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - SF Bay Area
McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.
|Joe Sandbank, Esq. - Legal Services
I have provided legal counsel to business buyers, sellers and brokers for over 17 years. With prior experience as a business broker and SBA loan officer, Joe brings both a practical and legal approach to all aspects of the business acquisition process.
|Janet Carrera - Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - SF Bay Area
Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow And Bulk Sale Services
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists
PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.
|Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Services
Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 805-428-2063.
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