I have a little collection of specialists to whom I refer on tricky subjects such as business rates and licensing. I’m now going to add Barry Frost to the list as someone who understands the ins and outs, the peaks and the pitfalls of property issues.
This kicked off because I asked in the last issue whether I had given Keith Davison the right advice as to whether he should lease his Spar store, or sell it now that he has reached that time-to-back-out age.
Barry runs a company called Commercial Plus in Chester and his quick answer to Keith’s dilemma was: “He could do either, depending whether he is happy to retain the property and become a ‘landlord’ and also how quickly he wants to retire. If he sells the goodwill only it could be easier to find a buyer due to a lower asking price and therefore a greater chance of obtaining finance if it was required.
“If he has the time to wait and wants to realise a greater amount of money, then selling goodwill and the property would be the best option, but is likely to take much longer in the current market.”
We had a longer chat later on the subject and he pointed out that it was important to educate retailers (rather than getting involved when things go wrong).
He suggests that Keith could hedge his bets and advertise both the leasing and buying opportunity to judge the level of interest. Business transfer agents are to be approached carefully. It is an unregulated market. Companies will ask for hefty-ish fees upfront and then have no incentive to work on your behalf. Most of them will put some of your details online. When a potential buyer wants to take a further look they will have to log in with their details so, if you ever sell to someone whose info has already been captured by the transfer agent, you subsequently will be charged full price even though you do the eventual deal yourself.
The most unscrupulous will actually put up barriers to potential buyers, because if the buyer makes a real effort to find your store and does the deal, the agent can still legally claim the commission. Something for practically nothing.
I’ve heard of lots of these companies ringing up and telling retailers they have a buyer if they would like to sell. This is a call centre ploy. There is no buyer. They just want to get you on their books.
Barry worked under contract with the NFRN and always recommended a reputable franchise called Everett Masson and Furby, which has an informal arrangement with NFRN.
Like all the real specialists I have tucked up my sleeve, Barry will give free advice over the phone (01244 659101), but naturally likes some paid work - so if you do want to sell your property, he will take you through the whole process for a small fee.