Media Releases

  • January 7, 2009
  • BizBuySell Reports Fourth Quarter 2008 Decline in Volume of Business-for-Sale Transactions

Fewer deals are getting done, and completed deals are closing with lower business valuations relative to a year ago.

San Francisco, CA -- January 7, 2009 --, the Internet's largest marketplace for buying or selling a small business, today released economic data that suggests the business-for-sale market is suffering in the down economy.

According to's Fourth Quarter Insights Report, the number of closed transactions reported to in the Fourth Quarter 2008 dropped 20% as compared with the same time period in 2007 – from 1,541 transactions to 1,232. Closed transactions are reported to by business brokers nationwide.

"Clearly, the market faces a number of hurdles right now that make it more difficult to get deals done," says Mike Handelsman, general manager of "There is still a lot of activity and many deals are getting done, but there has definitely been a slowdown relative to what we saw last year."

Popular Business Valuation Metrics Are Down

In addition to fewer completed deals, notes a decline in the metrics that are used to value companies. Compared to the same quarter last year, both revenue multiples and cash flow multiples have declined.

Revenue multiples on reported closed transactions dropped from 0.687 to 0.685 year over year, representing a 0.3% decline. Similarly, cash flow multiples dropped from 2.80 to 2.68, representing a 4.5% decline. The revenue and cash flow multiples are calculated by dividing the selling price of the business by its reported annual revenue or cash flow.

"Declining valuation multiples imply that there is considerable uncertainty about future revenue and cash flows for small businesses," notes Handelsman. "In this economic environment, buyers are going to be skeptical about whether a business can maintain the same level of revenues and cash flows going forward. That plays out in their offering a lower price for a given business than they might have offered in better times."

The median sales price for closed transactions also declined year over year, from $187,700 to $177,500. believes that limited access to capital is also playing a role in dropping sales prices. There are simply few buyers who have capital to buy a business, and fewer opportunities for potential buyers to get access to traditional sources of capital such as SBA-backed small business loans. As such, fewer buyers are available to bid on a business and there is limited upward pricing pressure.

Key Takeaways for Would-Be Business Buyers or Sellers

The current market presents a unique set of opportunities and considerations for business buyers and sellers. says buyers and sellers should take note of the following market phenomena:

  • Cash Is King. If you have access to cash, it could be a good time to buy. Buyers with cash may be able to find some great deals right now and will receive a warm welcome from sellers. Buyers should not only have cash to buy a business; buyers should have a cash cushion to weather potential business challenges or losses for some time, given that some economists don't project an economic turnaround until 2010.

  • Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware. This is a risky time to buy. A business that is doing fine now may end up struggling in the months to come due to economic circumstances. Buyers need to have a very current view of a business’s performance in these challenging economic times, and must assess that risk and factor it into their asking prices.

  • Hire Good Due Diligence Consultants. Given the risky nature of the current market, it's more important than ever to understand exactly what you are buying. recommends that buyers engage trained professionals (e.g. a business broker, accounting firm or due diligence consultancy) to help them assess the business before signing a purchase agreement.

  • Seller Financing May Close The Deal. Given the ongoing credit crunch, sellers may need to offer seller financing to get a deal done. Buyers will be pleased to see that sellers have enough confidence in the business to finance the sale. As a result, sellers who can provide financing as part of their sale agreement may be able to get a higher price for their business.

  • Waiting to Sell Could Be a Mistake. Some sellers have taken their companies off the market, waiting for a better time to sell. However, given that uncertainty in the market may be even greater than many buyers realize, it may still be a good time to sell. Sellers should be realistic about whether they will get a better price in the future, even if they now wish that they had sold out before the market downturn.

The Fourth Quarter Insights Report includes business-for-sale metrics for the nation and for more than 70 metropolitan areas. Metrics are also available by industry and business type. The current Insights Report comprises data from 1,232 closed transactions and more than 38,000 active listings.

For more information on the Fourth Quarter Insights Report, visit /news/media_insight.html

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 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

Media Contact:

Bobby Chilver
Walker Sands Communications
office: (312) 546-4712

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