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The Advantages of Seller Financing

Business owners who want to sell their business are often told by business brokers and intermediaries that they will have to consider financing the sale themselves. Many owners would like to receive all cash, but many also understand that there is very little outside financing available from banks or other sources. The only source left is the seller of the business.

Buyers usually feel that businesses should be able to pay for themselves. They are wary of sellers who demand all cash. Is the seller really saying that the business can’t support any debt or is he or she saying, “the business isn’t any good and I want my cash out of it now, just in case?” They are also wary of the seller who wants the carry-back note fully collateralized by the buyer. First, the buyer has probably used most of his or her assets to assemble the down payment and additional funds necessary to go into business. Most buyers are reluctant to use what little assets they may have left to secure the seller’s note. The buyer will ask, “what is the seller not telling me and/or why wouldn’t the business provide sufficient collateral?”

Here are some reasons why a seller might want to consider seller financing the sale of his or her business:

  • There is a greater chance that the business will sell with seller financing. In fact, in many cases, the business won’t sell for cash, unless the owner is willing to lower the price substantially.
  • The seller will usually receive a much higher price for the business by financing a portion of the sale price.
  • Most sellers are unaware of how much the interest on the sale increases their actual selling price. For example, a seller carry-back note at 8 percent carried over nine years will actually double the amount carried. $100,000 at 8 percent over a nine year period results in the seller receiving $200,000.
  • With interest rates currently the lowest in years, sellers usually get a higher rate from a buyer than they would get from any financial institution.
  • Sellers may also discover that, in many cases, the tax consequences of financing the sale themselves may be more advantageous than those for an all-cash sale.
  • Financing the sale tells the buyer that the seller has enough confidence that the business will, or can, pay for itself.

Certainly, the biggest concern the seller has is whether or not the new owner will be successful enough to pay off the loan the seller has agreed to provide as a condition of the sale. Here are some obvious, but important, factors that may indicate the stability of the buyer:

  • How long has the buyer lived in the same house or been a home owner?
  • What is the buyer’s work history?
  • How do the buyer’s personal references check out?
  • Does the buyer have a satisfactory banking relationship?

Advantages of Seller Financing for the Buyer

  • Lower interest
  • Longer term
  • No fees
  • Seller stays involved
  • Less paperwork
  • Easier to negotiate
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