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BLOOMBERG: US Business Owners Seeking to Cash Out Face 10% Drop in Prices

By in 2023 - Volume 25

US Business Owners Seeking to Cash Out Face 10% Drop in Prices

  • Median sale price of small firms dropped last year: BizBuySell
  • Number of transactions also dipped amid high rates, inflation


For the many older entrepreneurs ready to retire in the US, the window is closing for outsize payouts.

Prices for US small businesses that surged during the pandemic fell back down in the second half of last year, according to online business marketplace The rapid increase in interest rates is deterring would-be buyers and inflation is eating into sellers’ profits — lowering valuations.

At $315,000, the median sale price is down 10% from its peak in the fall of 2021, according to The number of transactions also dropped in the second half of 2022 amid increasing uncertainty about the economic outlook.

Sale Prices Dip for US Small Businesses

Rising interest rates are deterring would-be buyers


The recent slowdown is a return to “more normal times,” not a major downturn, said Bob House, president at BizBuySell, a unit of real estate services firm CoStar Group Inc.

There’s still a lot of appetite for small manufacturers, according to broker Sheila Spangler, of Murphy Business & Financial in Boise, Idaho. “Any company that makes something, we get 40, 50, 60 inquiries,” she said.

And there are plenty of sellers as well, including a large cohort of aging baby boomers who are seeking to retire.

“Sellers are thinking more about selling now after having gone through the last three years,” Spangler said.

Joe LaCugna, 62, is one of them, looking to slow down once he sells his baseball and softball instruction business, the Hot Corner, in Englishtown, New Jersey. Right now no one seems to want to take a risk, he said. LaCugna recently lowered his asking price to just under $300,000.

“I’m not looking to become a millionaire from this,” he said. “I’m just looking to get out and relax the rest of my life.”

The pullback of recent months is a direct consequence of the Federal Reserve’s most aggressive rate hike cycle in decades.

“Around California, high office vacancies had already depressed sale prices for downtown restaurants, said Steve Zimmerman, who specializes in selling restaurants and clubs. Rising loan rates now are making it harder for buyers to get enough financing to complete their deals, “Zimmerman said.

It’s particularly true for the smallest businesses.

In the Northeast, the market for firms with cash flow under $500,000 is slowing and prices are falling, but private equity firms still are aggressively buying bigger businesses with cash flow of $2 million or more, said Bob Flynn of United Brokers Group in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

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