Why do we take a deposit from a buyer when preparing and executing a Purchase Agreement Contract on a sale of a business?
The short, legal answer is that "without consideration a contract is unenforceable". The potential problem is that I negotiate and agree upon a price, terms and conditions to buy a business and sign an agreement with a seller but do not put up a deposit.
Tomorrow the seller changes his mind, doesn't want to sell or finds a buyer who will pay more money. The seller ignores your agreement and decides not to sell or goes on to buyer number 2 and you cannot enforce your original Purchase Agreement because there is no consideration.
How much consideration should I give as deposit?
One dollar can make it enforceable but it will only convince the seller that you as a buyer are not serious. As a broker I like to see a deposit of 5 to 10% of the purchase price. A minimum amount of $5,000 deposit with the offer. When I do open escrow I like to open with 10% of the purchase price. More on this below.
Are Deposits refundable and when?
In almost every case there are one or more contingencies in the Purchase Agreement. Until a buyers due diligence is satisfied the deposit should be refundable. Sellers need to cap the time period on due diligence and not let it drag on. After the buyer is satisfied with their due diligence I like them to sign off and remove that contingency. Thereafter deposits should not be refundable. An exception to this would be if the buyer cannot get approved by the landlord (a good broker should perform his own due diligence on the buyer and pre-qualify them).
Cashing Deposits and Opening Escrow:
I prefer to do the deal in this manner. My Purchase Agreement has buyer and seller authorizing me to hold the buyers deposit un-cashed until opening escrow. I have the buyer perform their due diligence before opening escrow. Once approved I open escrow and deposit their check with the escrow holder.
Return of Deposit to Buyer:
Once their deposit is in escrow and escrow is signed, no escrow company will release the deposit back to the buyer or forfeit it to the seller (even if it states the deposit is non-refundable) without a written cancellation instruction signed by both parties instructing the distribution of the deposit. When the market was in a frenzy a few years ago, many deals were done with a release of a pre-agreed amount of money to the seller upon opening of escrow (this cannot be done on any business with an ABC license). The early release of funds skirted the issue of signing a cancellation agreement later. It is hard to get a buyer to sign a cancellation forfeiting his money at a later time.
With all the above said; I feel it is best for all parties involved to perform due diligence, and remove all possible contingencies before opening escrow. Then once you go to escrow it is a very solid deal.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - CA
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.
|Shalonda Chappel: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California
Escrow services to brokers/agents, sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services. 951-808-3972.
|William F. Ziprick, Attorney: Legal Services For Buyers And Sellers
Through creative problem solving, attention to detail, accessibility, & understanding that unnecessary delay is often a deal killer, I work closely with my clients and other professionals to consistently achieve a high rate of closings. Office: 909-255-8353, Cell: 509-951-7230.
|Helen Yoo, New Century Escrow - Escrow Services In 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.
|Steve Erlinger: Laundry Broker, Consultant - Southern California
I specialize in the laundry industry broker and consultant in Southern California. I assist buyers navigate the many facets of finding, evaluating, and operating a laundry business. I also help current laundry owners find additional stores, sell, evaluate an existing laundromat. Call 949-500-5893.
|Joanne Weber, Broker: Preschool Specialist, Southern California
The Ryan Craig Company is in its 46th year as the recognized expert in Southern California, dealing exclusively in the sale of preschools, Montessori schools, day care centers, and private schools. Our extensive list of references speaks for itself. Phone Joanne at 818-760-3684 for more info.
|Joe Ranieri, Business Broker: Orange, LA County Areas
Having owned retail/restaurant businesses for over 20 years, my interest turned to selling businesses rather than owning them. I specialize in LA & Orange County restaurants, fast food independents and chains, bars, & liquor stores. Call 714-292-5448 Cell/Text.
|Chris Seaman, Business Broker: Southern California
Founded in 1994, First Choice Business Brokers has accelerated to become one of the most successful Business Sales Organizations in the world. Our team of agents have gone through extensive training to become experts in the field of business brokerage. Call Chris at 858-578-4111 for more info.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Broker Explains Allocation Of The Purchase Price When Selling A Business
There are a handful of key asset categories in allocating or breaking down the purchase price allocation of a California business sale. Allocation is required to complete the transaction. In this blog post Lee Petsas (Orange County Business Broker) at 714-363-0440 covers asset allocation classes.
|Thinking About Selling A Small Business? Know These 8 Factors That Matter
The likelihood of selling a business is often determined by external factors in the marketplace. Here are eight influences on how easy, or difficult it might be when selling a small California business. Peter Siegel at 925-785-3118 (BizBen ProSell Program) explains these factors for owner/sellers.
|Millennial Buyers: What Are They Seeking When Buying A Small Business?
First, we must define, who are the Millennials? The exact years are up for debate, but Millennials were born during approximately between 1981-1986, which today would be between 22 and 37 years of age. Joe Ranieri looks at what these buyers are looking for and what qualities they seek in businesses.
|Business Purchase Financing: SBA Loans & Non SBA Financing Solution Services
I provide niche business purchase financial advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Financing, Retirement Fund Rollover Solutions, Combo Financing Packages, etc. To get more information about getting Pre-Qualified & more info on the ProBuy/ProSell Programs: 925-785-3118 Direct.
|Can A Business Seller Back Out Of Escrow If They Simply Change Their Mind?
Can a seller of a small business back out of an ongoing escrow? Probably, yes, it all depends how far along the escrow is, which will dictate how messy things will get for both owner & buyer. Joe Ranieri (Southern California Business Broker) gives his feedback with others on this BizBen Discussion.
|Due Diligence Checklist: 10 Key Items To Investigate When Buying Businesses
Buying a California small business involves reviewing due diligence checklists so buyers can learn enough to determine whether to proceed with a deal. Here's a due diligence checklist. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProBuy Advisor & Business Purchase Financing Expert) at 925-785-3118 shares his views.
|Business Seller Mistakes Near The Close Of Escrow Can Tank A Deal To Sell
Let's be honest, typically it takes a while (6 months to a year) to sell a business, from listing to close of escrow, and so it's common that many sellers are anxious as the close of escrow nears with a buyer. Joe Ranieri (Business Broker) examines common seller mistakes owners should stay clear of.
|Getting An SBA Loan To Buy A Small Business: Dispelling Some Major Myths
When seeking SBA loan financing many potential business buyers have wrong information about the process of securing the best financing to buy a business. Peter Siegel, MBA (at 925-785-3118) a business purchase financing expert delves into the myths and facts regarding SBA loan financing.