Sorry – it’s confidential!

I do understand. The buyer of your rent roll requires plenty of trust from you as the seller, so it's natural they want to know who owns the business. I've been that buyer, asking the broker who was on the other side. But here's the problem: when you're selling you're in a really vulnerable position. Your identity has to be confidential.

For most agency owners, the rent roll represents a big chunk of your life assets. When it comes time to sell you’ll be doing everything you can to maximise your net result, getting every single management across to the buyers. And that means protecting the sale process, keeping your plans under wraps, until a public announcement is required.

Let’s talk about your agency’s competitors. There’s a chance one of them may be your buyer and, once they’ve signed a confidentiality agreement, shown me they have genuine interest in an acquisition (and have made progress with their finance or capacity) AND reviewed the Information Memorandum about the rent roll/agency, ONLY THEN will I discuss your business identity. Why? I just don’t believe it’s relevant to them until that point. Yes you, your reputation as an agent and your character will be assessed before they confirm their interest. But I first want to know they’re happy with all the other info about the business and are otherwise keen to proceed.

We can’t afford to have your competitors pillaging your rent roll and spreading word of your sale to landlords and to your team. A rent roll is simply a bunch of landlord relationships, formalised with Form 6’s, but dynamic and vulnerable. It’s built on confidence in your business and your property managers. The knowledge that you’re looking after them and their property. So it can really rattle landlords to get a call from the BDM down the road telling them you’re selling up. They’ll wonder why you haven’t told them yourself. And you’ll lose managements.

Your team are hugely important to you and your agency. I always felt I actually worked for them in many ways – support, training, guidance. And over time they can become friends. But – and I’m okay if I sound a bit uncaring here – your first priority must be your financial result from your sale. I know some principals tell their PM’s before they put the business up for sale. And congrats if you have a team who’ll stick with you for the months that follow (and yes every sale takes a period of months from start to settlement) despite knowing they’ve lost their position. I think most staff will do what should be expected and look out for their own interest. Once they know you’re selling they look elsewhere for a job.

In one recent example an agency owner wanted to be compassionate and chose to tell her entire team of her plans, giving them an extra few weeks to plan their futures. Then every single one of them walked out that same week and left her to run a significant rent roll on her own. The financial impact of this kind of gesture can be severe.

When I sold my agency in 2023 I had a long term leader in my agency who I considered a good friend. I trusted her. But I’d signed a sale contract with a confidentiality clause so I was unable to tell her what was happening. Until one of the buyers’ salespeople decided to spill the beans to her at an open home. He’d been told – in clear breach of the clause – by his unprofessional agency principal. It was embarrassing and frustrating. If you don’t like the legal commitment of a confidentiality agreement don’t sign the bloody thing!

I’ve been a rent roll buyer myself and I know how loose many people can be with confidentiality agreements. Rent roll brokers, solicitors, bankers and others. There’s a currency with info on who is selling and where. Far too many people were very quick to share the agency names with me as a prospect – well before they knew whether I was a genuine, qualified buyer.

You get one chance to sell your rent roll or agency. Once chance to cash in on the years of thankless work as a real estate principal. The final price really does depend on a smooth, carefully planned transaction. And that means protecting your identity from the marketplace until the very last moment. Respecting your team and your clients. But looking after you.

I’d love to have a confidential chat with you (and yes I do mean confidential!) about your rent roll or agency plans. Please call me on 0423 332 022.

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