Facts for Foreign Nationals – What You Need to Know About Business Brokers in America

Here’s a little article I had written for The Florida Forums, an excellent site for future expats providing resources and support to those who would like to immigrate to to the US.  I am licensed to practice in Florida, however the facts below will be applicable for all 50 states.  If you are looking for businesses to purchase outside of Florida, please contact me as I have colleagues in several states who may be able to help.

Business brokers often work with foreign nationals looking for business opportunities for visa purposes and I wanted to offer some advice when interviewing business brokers, regardless of the city or state you are keen on moving to.  The most important thing is to do your research, and beginning with resources such as the Florida Forums is a great first start.

Business Broker Facts:

  • Unfortunately, only about half of the States regulate the business brokerage industry.  For the majority of those that do, the State requires that the business broker have a valid real estate license.  These licenses can be easily checked online at any given state’s real estate department or division.
  • Is the broker a member of a professional association?  Most business brokers may be licensed real estate agents, but they are typically not members of the National Association of Realtors.  Many states have their own business brokerage association.  In Florida, for instance, I am a member of the Business Brokers of Florida (BBF).  The Florida Forums has a link to many of the various state associations here: http://www.thefloridaforums.com/partners.htm
  • Is the broker also a member of the International Association of Business Brokers (IBBA)?  This worldwide association offers continuing education to its members, annual conferences for professional development and a strict code of ethics.
  • Not all real estate licensees are business brokers.  In the current Recession, we?ve seen many residential real estate professionals expand their services, including business brokerage or consulting.  When interviewing brokers, ask how long they have been in the business of selling businesses.
  • Visas to the US are valid for all 50 states.  However, outside of popular states for immigration (such as Florida), many business brokers are not familiar with E-2, L-1 and EB-5 requirements pertaining to the actual business purchase.  Working with a broker who is familiar with the immigration process will save you a lot of time, as they will only present businesses that appear to meet Embassy standards.
  • In most states, business brokers cooperate with one another.  This means any given business broker can show you multiple businesses, regardless if the company is listed by him or her.  This enables the buyer to interview and work with one dedicated professional.
  • Do not start actively looking at businesses until you are in a “Go” position.  If you do not yet have the funds liquid to make a purchase and apply for your visa, it will be counter productive to fly to the US to look at individual companies.
  • Make sure your have a rapport with your broker.  The business search requires sharing confidential details about not only the business but yourself financially.  It is important to hire a qualified professional that you can trust and feel confident in sharing your personal details and who will guide the sale.

I am always available to answer any questions and also provide guidance or referrals to my qualified colleagues outside of Central Florida.

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