The Cost Of Selling A Business

cost of selling a business

Selling a business can be an exciting and profitable endeavor, but it’s important to remember that there are costs associated with the process. Many business owners overlook these expenses and end up disappointed with their final payout. To avoid this, it’s crucial to estimate and understand the costs involved in selling your business. In this article, we’ll explore the cost of selling a business and provide tips on how to calculate it accurately.

1. The Business Broker/Investment Banker Commission

One of the most significant costs you’ll face when selling your business is the commission paid to the business broker or investment banker. This expense can range between 10 and 12 percent of the purchase price for smaller transactions. Larger transactions often involve tiered commissions. It’s essential to negotiate this fee upfront and include it in your financial calculations.

2. The Attorney Fee

Engaging an attorney is a crucial step in the selling process, and their fees can vary depending on several factors. The complexity of your deal, the inclusion of real estate, and any franchise agreements involved can all impact the attorney’s fees. Some attorneys charge hourly, while others provide a fixed fee for the transaction. It’s important to discuss the anticipated time and costs with your attorney to ensure you’re prepared for this expense.

3. Transfer Fee

If you’re selling a franchise, it’s likely that you signed a franchise agreement that includes a “transfer fee” or a similar charge. Franchisors justify this fee by citing the additional time and resources required to evaluate potential buyers and prepare new documents for the transfer. It’s vital to review your franchise agreement and understand the implications of this fee before determining your desired sale price.

4. Assignment Fee

Leases may include an assignment fee clause triggered when you request to assign the lease to the potential buyer. Similar to the transfer fee, the landlord justifies this cost by stating that they will incur expenses related to reviewing and negotiating the lease assignment. Review your lease agreement to determine if an assignment fee provision exists and consider this expense when calculating your net sale proceeds.

5. Prepayment Penalty

If you have an open mortgage, credit line, or loan associated with your business or property, you must consider the possibility of a prepayment penalty. Early repayment of your loan may incur a substantial penalty, depending on the terms of your agreement. Additionally, vendor agreements may include early termination penalties. Understanding these potential costs and incorporating them into your sale price is crucial. In some cases, assigning the outstanding obligation to the buyer can help avoid prepayment penalties.

6. Sale of Business Fee in Lease

Certain leases may include clauses entitling the landlord to a percentage of the business sale or a fixed amount upon the tenant’s sale of the business. Although these clauses were once rare, they are becoming more common. It’s essential to review your lease carefully before drawing up contracts to address any sale of business contingencies outlined within the lease.

7. Transfer Taxes

When selling real property along with your business, you may be responsible for paying transfer taxes to the government, depending on the state you are in. While it may be possible to limit or negate these taxes through strategic deal structuring, it’s important to assume that you’ll have to pay the full amount initially. Familiarize yourself with the transfer tax laws in your jurisdiction to accurately calculate your net proceeds.

8. Other Costs and Considerations

In addition to the major cost of selling a business discussed above, there may be other fees, penalties, or expenses specific to your transaction. It’s crucial to thoroughly understand your obligations before listing your business for sale and, most importantly, before signing any contracts. Failing to account for these costs in your financial calculations can result in a disappointing outcome where you may even have to pay out of pocket to close the deal. Avoid this situation by conducting thorough research and seeking professional advice.


Selling a business can be a lucrative venture, but it’s essential to consider the costs involved in the process. By estimating and understanding these expenses upfront, you can avoid unpleasant surprises and ensure a successful sale. Remember to account for the business broker/investment banker commission, attorney fees, transfer and assignment fees, prepayment penalties, lease provisions, transfer taxes, and any other potential costs specific to your transaction. With careful planning and the right financial calculations, you’ll be well-prepared to sell your business and maximize your net sale proceeds.

Additional Information:

  • It’s advisable to consult with an experienced business broker, attorney, and accountant to accurately estimate the costs associated with selling your business.
  • Conducting due diligence and preparing all necessary documents in advance can help streamline the selling process and potentially reduce costs.
  • Keep in mind that the cost of selling a business mentioned in this article are general guidelines, and actual expenses may vary based on individual circumstances and market conditions.

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