• Nov 30, 2007
  • St. Petersburg Times

One-stop shopping for aspiring CEOs

Hundreds of bay area businesses can be found for sale online.

Want to run your own business? You needn't start from scratch.

Consider Limey's Pub, a St. Petersburg establishment. Commercial real estate broker Barbara Bicknell listed the business on BizBuySell.com because it can reach a national audience. Since then, she's heard from half a dozen people who saw the ad.

Based on data released this month by BizBuySell, the Tampa Bay area is humming with entrepreneurs trying to sell businesses, from liquor stores and pet shops to florists. The Web site lets aspiring CEOs browse more than 50,000 small businesses for sale. About 900 of those are in the Tampa Bay area.

BizBuySell has been around since the mid 1990s, but this is the first time it's taken a public, comprehensive look at what's selling and where.

In the Tampa Bay area, the site found, the median asking price not sales price of a business is $200,000, compared with $250,000 nationwide. Mike Handelsman, general manager of the San Francisco-based Web site, says that's because the Tampa Bay area has mostly smaller businesses. (For perspective, $209,000 is the median sales price of a home here.)

The Web site facilitated sales of at least 37 businesses here in the third quarter of 2007, including a collections agency in Hillsborough County (the seller got the $2-million asking price), a sports bar in Pasco (sold for $415,000, down from an asking price of $495,000), and a furniture and children's clothing store in Pinellas ($279,000, down from a $325,000 asking price).

Though buyers can search the site for free, sellers pay to list their businesses. BizBuySell will set a value on each business for free, though sellers aren't obligated to take it into account when they price their business.

There's an abundance of similar Web sites, like businessesforsale.com and businessbroker.net. BizBuySell says it's the largest, by listings and traffic. According to comScore Media Metrix, BizBuySell had 245,000 unique visitors in October.

Handelsman believes that more buyers flock to the Web site when unemployment and the threat of layoffs go up. (Note to Floridians: Unemployment here has been inching steadily upward for a year.)

And when interest rates go up, Handelsman said, more people try to sell their businesses, because running one gets more expensive. (Interest rates are going down, though: The Fed cut them in September and October.)

Pete Harrison, a business broker at Century 21 Shaw in Tampa, says he gets most of his leads from BizBuySell.

He's got six businesses listed on it now: an auto repair shop, an ice cream shop, two pizza places, an auto accessory store and an Italian restaurant.

Sometimes, he uses Craigslist to try to sell businesses. "But the buyer pool isn't as good," Harrison said. "The people on BizBuySell are usually more serious."

The going rate
The median asking price of the 897 Tampa Bay area businesses now up for sale on BizBuySell.com is $200,000. That's less than the national median asking price of $250,000.

About BizBuySell

BizBuySell is the Internet's largest business for sale marketplace. Since 1996, BizBuySell has offered tools that make it easy for business owners and brokers to sell a business, and potential buyers to find the business of their dreams. BizBuySell currently has an inventory of approximately businesses - spanning 80 countries - for sale at any one time and receives more than monthly visits. The site also features an extensive franchise directory as well as an easy-to-use business valuation tool. Please visit www.bizbuysell.com for more information.

BizBuySell was founded in 1996 and in 2012 became a division of CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ - CSGP) - commercial real estate's leading provider of information and analytic services. CoStar conducts expansive, ongoing research to produce and maintain the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information and offers a suite of online services enabling clients to analyze, interpret and gain unmatched insight on commercial property values, market conditions and current availabilities. For more information, visit www.costar.com.

Media Contact:

Bobby Chilver
Walker Sands Communications
office: (312) 546-4712
email: robert.chilver@walkersands.com

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BizBuySell is the Internet's largest and most heavily trafficked business for sale marketplace, with more business for sale listings, more unique users, and more search activity than any other service.