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Playing ‘For Sale by Owner’ Game is Risky

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(Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/nazdravie)

Robert J. Renteria |

CHICAGO — “You got the best deal ever.”

The new buyer told me that was the seller’s comment when they closed the deal and began to walk away from the table.

But how good a deal was it?

Not only was the laundry not generating the revenue that the seller had reported, it was so far off that the buyer has been paying $2,500 out of pocket every month for the last few months to cover the expenses.

Playing the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) game is risky, especially without having audited financial statements and tax returns. In this case, as in many, the seller misrepresented the deal and now the buyer is in trouble.

My Advice: Don’t Buy FSBO

When I say this, I am trying to reinforce the need for you to work with a laundry professional when you are looking to purchase.

Let’s define “laundry professional” in greater detail. This is a person who has a full-service company that can take care of you after the sale. Do not buy from people/brokers who are only going to sell you the laundry and have no vested interest in the industry.

There are all kinds of scams going on out there. Buyer, beware.

With all my experience, even I can’t save you if you’re in too deep. Do yourself a favor and find a laundry professional and company that can support you in the beginning, during, and when you decide to transition out. Otherwise, you are risking everything—your family’s needs always come first.

Before You Buy

First things first, find a laundry professional who can truly support you. Avoid those out there who want to only meet at coffee shops or the laundry location—that is a big red flag. Perform due diligence regarding the people who are helping you as well as the people selling their laundries.

Visit the business location of the person you are looking to trust with your hard-earned dollars. Examine the service department, parts department, showroom, marketing department and sales offices. Talk with the service techs and look over the service trucks. And, talk to owners who have purchased from these people.

If someone—anyone—tells you how great they are and how much experience they have but can’t show you any proof, run the other way. Don’t be fooled by the fancy-car–driving slick talker who only wants your money and a commission.

All of this sounds basic, but I can’t tell you how many times people have gotten screwed over when they easily could have avoided it. I have nothing to gain by trying to save you, but you do have everything to lose.

You will be safer by following these easy recommendations, but please contact me if you have any questions and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

About the author

Robert J. Renteria

Consultant

Robert J. Renteria is a national consultant based in Chicago. He has more than 23 years of industry experience, having helped develop more than 750 coin laundries nationally and abroad. The author of three books, he was named the 2010 Chicago Latino Professional of the Year and is the sole recipient of the 2011 International Outstanding Humanitarian Award. In 2013, he received two Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards for his work in civil rights advocacy and educational reform. He can be reached at 312-933-5619 or robert@fromthebarrio.com.

Comments

FSBO

Robert, your advice is very correct in most respects. However, you mention: "Examine the service department, parts department, showroom, marketing department and sales offices. Talk with the service techs and look over the service trucks. And, talk to owners who have purchased from these people." How would this work when buying a laundromat, none of which apply?

Don't meet at the laundromat? Why not? That is the showroom.

But I agree that an independent professional should be employed.

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