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.
|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.
|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 successful closings. Office: 909-255-8353, Cell: 509-951-7230.
|Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence
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.
|Mike Brewer: Liquor License Broker, ABC Consulting Service
Liquor license brokerage and consulting services. We provide: Alcohol License Transfers Application Consulting & Processing, Liquor License Purchases & Sales, City Zoning Permits & Land Use Entitlements, Public Convenience or Necessity Findings and Letters. Phone Mike Brewer direct at 800-437-1100.
|Brad Steinberg, Business Broker: Laundromat Specialist
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.
|Peter Siegel, MBA, BizBen Founder, ProBuy, ProSell Programs
Founder & President Of BizBen.com (since 1994) & BizBenNetwork.com. I am the Lead Facilitator for the ProSell & ProBuy Programs on both websites. I consult daily with buyers, sellers, and intermediaries daily about buying and selling businesses. Call 925-785-3118.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Business Purchase Financing Expert Peter Siegel - Tips On Proving Cash Flow
What are the actual "provable" adjusted net earnings (cash flow) of a small to mid-sized business being purchased? Buyers need to look carefully at all financial info for the "real" adjusted net income/cash flow. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProBuy & ProSell Lead Facilitator) at 925-785-3118 explains.
|Attorney Specialist Shares Escrow Instruction Tips When Buying A Business
Once you have successfully negotiated the Asset Purchase Agreement ("APA") for your acquisition it's natural to relax a little and let your guard down. Attorney Specialist Mark Chatow discusses what business buyers should look out for when opening escrow and getting escrow instruction in place.
|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.
|December BizBen Index: 1,071 California Small Businesses Sold Last Month
Total sales of California small businesses sold were down from last month and overall from last year's completed sales transactions. Several factors contributed to these numbers including: owner/sellers waiting to list until 2020, more business brokers exiting the industry, lower buyer demand.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|Due Diligence Issues: What Business Buyers Should Know About The Process
Willard Michlin, CPA, CFE at 800-864-0420 elaborates why you can do a large portion of the due diligence yourself, depending on your background, but you should never try to do it solely on your own. In this BizBen blog post he explores ways business business buyers get themselves into trouble.