In this year of pandemic, the number of small businesses changing hands so far has dropped 16% compared to 2019, according to data collected by CoStar's BizBuySell marketplace.
The decline suggests some may have been taking a wait-and-see attitude earlier in the year to assess the effect of the virus on the economy. That appeared to change in the third quarter as many states began to ease restrictions.
Buyers seemed to focus on quality. The businesses that did trade in the third quarter boasted higher revenues and occupied greater space than those sold during the same period a year ago. They also fetched better prices.
Only restaurants showed a decline in revenue among those that sold for the period, and it was only a modest drop.
All through the year, most sales involved businesses that tended to occupy greater chunks of real estate.
The median sale price for businesses sold in the third quarter was $299,500, a 19.8% jump from the same period a year ago. With many businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, buyers with means appear to be paying a premium for resilient operations that continue to thrive. Buyers and sellers of other enterprises may be staying on the sidelines as they try to assess what a fair price might be during these uncertain times.