The Very Expensive Desk Lamp

This is a story based on a true incident – only some of the details have been changed. The buyer and seller were ready to close on a business when the buyer asked to look at the list of fixtures and equipment that were to be included in the sale. After a few minutes reviewing the list, the buyer said that the desk lamp on the owner’s desk was not listed. The seller explained that the lamp was a gift from his parents many years ago and therefore it was not included. The buyer got very upset, stating that the lamp was just perfect for that desk and he wanted it. The seller tried to explain that the lamp had lots of sentimental value, but that he would replace it with another desk lamp. This did not satisfy the buyer, and in order to stop the sale from falling part, the seller agreed to subtract $1,000 from the purchase price to keep the lamp. That made the desk lamp a very expensive one.

The point of this is that when buyers look at a business, they assume that everything they see is included in the sale. Sellers should keep this in mind when selling their businesses. If something is not going to be included in the sale, remove it from the premises prior to any prospective buyer looking at the business. Sellers sometimes think that they can remove the painting on the office wall since their grandmother painted it. The picture really looks good on the wall never imagining that the buyer also will think it looks great on the wall – and the problems begin.

Business broker professionals have seen deals fall apart over a piece of family memorabilia that was never intended to be included in the sale, but was there when the buyer looked at the business. The word to sellers is to remove anything – and the key word is anything – that is not included in the sale. The alternative is to list everything that is not included on the listing agreement, but it is usually less complicated simply to take them home.

One other thing – if there is a piece of equipment that is inoperative, such as the computer on the back desk, or the refrigerator in the basement of the restaurant – get rid of it. Or make sure the listing agreement states that the following equipment is inoperative. Again, it’s really easier just to remove these items.

A professional business broker will see that these potential dealbreakers won’t disrupt the closing.