A month ago, Abe Jenners, a veteran business broker from Georgia, was not terribly enthusiastic about closing deals during the Corona virus epidemic. He had deals come apart as buyers got skittish and businesses came grinding to a halt.
“It has been very tough” were the words he used in a conversation in March.
Now, Abe reports an extremely cautious optimism. Actually, he is too cautious to call it “optimism.”
“It’s not as horrible as it was last month,” he says, laughing. He is calling from his home office in the basement of his home. “A couple of things are changing. First, a bunch of my sellers are saying, ‘Go back to that guy or gal who offered me X and tell them I’ll take it.’ The lowballers of late 2019 and early 2020 are being accepted now.”
Abe says not all the buyers are interested in coming back to the table and some made even steeper cuts to their offers. But, there are deals being made.
“I was really shocked by what you might call the bargain hunters. There’s a pot of money that people have – maybe it was sitting in their mattresses, I don’t know – but they’re coming forward and asking to show them businesses. Yes, they’re lowballing, but they’re also saying, ‘I’ll take over your lease in 30 days. At least you’ll get something.'”
BARGAIN HUNTERS AND BOTTOM DWELLERS
Josh Factor, president of Vertica CRM, a software firm dedicated to the business brokerage and M&A industries, is fascinated with the story. He says part of his fascination is that it reflects what he is hearing from his worldwide clientele.
“You can’t imagine the stories,” he says. “A month ago, it was like an earthquake hit a lot of my clients. Deals dying or put on hold. And then, suddenly, those bargain hunters, as you called them; they started coming up out of the wood works. They remind me of the guys who bought homes during the Great Recession in 2008. They came in and just snapped up properties. Same thing here.”
Asked for an example, he mentions in New Jersey, a longtime client reports that two deals are back on after “dying on the vine.”
“There’s a very motivated buyer on one deal for a dry cleaner. He got some concessions to keep it going, but nothing outrageous. The price came down 10% and the seller will stay on for two additional weeks. The business is still open, so that’s a plus. The other deal, he told me, was what he called a ‘bottom dweller.’ This couple that owns a lot of real estate is buying two different restaurants from a family for pennies. The seller is happy to not have to pay rent and the buyer says he’s going to blast off once restrictions are lifted.”
Abe in Georgia reports a similar deal for a medium sized restaurant. The price fell over 75% but the owner is “calling every day to make sure it’s on,” he says. “And the buyer is confident he can use the money he saved to have an ‘end of the plague’ welcome back event. I hope he’s right.”
Joshua Factor is the founder of Vertica CRM. A software company dedicated to helping Business Brokers and M&A professionals work more efficiently through technology and earn more commissions. For more information about their main product, Business Brokers CRM, visit www.BusinessBrokersCRM.com or call +1 212 381 4994 in the USA or +61 385 184 759 in Australia.