You want a house or something, you get a mortgage. But what if you're buying up a hotel, or a restaurant? I see these things for sale online at reasonable prices but not so reasonable that I could just up and get it outright.

Also, if you buy a business, are you also buying all its assets and the building it was in? You're buying it in its totality, yes?

  • @littleadv Oh, jesus, I am so embarrassed by that error. Very unlike me. – temporary_user_name Nov 21 '12 at 4:07

There are loans. Usually they're secured by the assets, and you also cosign them personally. Your own credit worthiness comes to play, your own assets are in jeopardy.

As to what it is that you're buying - no, it is not necessary for the seller to sell you the building. You might buy the business, but not the actual space it occupies. In fact, the space may not even belong to the seller. You may find yourself taking over the lease, which is in fact a liability, not an asset.

You should agree with the seller on what exactly it is that you're buying. You should ask for a full inventory list that would include all the assets and the liabilities that would be transferred to you. Lease, as mentioned, but you might also "buy" loans, debts, lawsuits, and god knows what else that is attached to the business.

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Some businesses sell a franchise. You will be buying the name and reputation, access to the corporate infrastructure, requirements to use specific supplies and procedures. These tend to come with financing from the parent company. You will need to bring cash to the table, but they will loan you the rest.

When purchasing a business, like buying a house, what is part of the deal can be negotiated. Sometimes the new owner and the seller agree to transfer everything. In other cases almost nothing except one item is included. The one item could be the location, the name, the inventory, the customer/client list. All these can be assets or liabilities depending on the specific situation, and which side of the table you are on.

In the United states the US government has the Small Business Administration. They also have Small Business Development Centers SMDC to help. These are also supported by state governments and colleges and universities. They can help identify the steps needed to start a small business.

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