What Sale Price Did Other PM Businesses Get?
A Look At Past Property Management Deals and Why They Don’t Tell The Whole Story
It’s one of the first questions I typically hear when meeting a property management professional who is giving some thought to selling their business. There is a natural curiosity.
What Do You Think My Business Is Worth?
There are literally dozens of factors that have positive and negative impacts on the value of your company. Valuation specialists utlitize the 3 approaches to value in drawing conclusions – the Asset, Market and Income approaches.
For management companies, the Asset approach is typically discarded. Ours are service-based businesses where the tangible assets rarely match the Market or Income approach values. The discussion here focuses on the Market approach to valuation and what other similar businesses achieved. Sales comps.
Unlike with residential or commercial real estate, sales comps are only employed as very loose frameworks in business valuation. The unique nature of each company makes apples to apples impossible.
We certainly can look at many years of transactions and find key reference points. These reference points are expressed as multiples. It can be a multiple of earnings. A multiple of gross revenue. A multiple of gross profit margin. A multiple of EBIT or EBITDA. A multiple of monthly management contracts.
An analysis of the last decade of property management transactions tells us a few things we likely could’ve assumed already:
- High revenue companies will achieve a greater multiple than smaller firms.
- Businesses showing a rapid or recent rise in revenues or earnings achieve higher multiples than companies showing flat or declining numbers.
- Management companies who’ve taken the time to highly automate their processes achieve higher multiples.
- Companies where the owner has little or no role in daily operations get a higher multiple.
- Businesses with more than 5 years of operations get higher multiples.
- Property management buyers rarely reach a purchase price equal to one year’s annual revenues. A $1 Million revenue company is not likely to get a $1Million purchase price.
- Companies with highly developed marketing processes and automations will get higher multiples than ones with lots of manual process.
- Businesses with strong balance sheets and little or no longterm debt get a higher multiple.
So what are the price ranges?
We did a review of almost 100 property management companies sold throughout the U.S. in the last decade. These comps include residential, commercial, HOA and vacation rental property management businesses. Real estate offices and brokerages were discarded. There were, by far, more comps reported in Florida than any other state. That’s partly due to the state’s very active vacation rental marketplace. It also points to the fact that Florida brokers, M&A professionals and sales associations are better about reporting transactions than other parts of the country.
Keep in mind, this analysis is limited to property management companies doing between $500,000 and $5 Million in revenues. We only included businesses booking at least half a million dollars in third-party management revenues.
Some median numbers we found in this analysis, for the 90-plus PM companies purchased:
- Median Gross Revenues – $797,080
- Median Seller’s Discretionary Earnings – $153,056
- Median Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation & Amortization (EBITDA) – $66,697
- Median SDE Margins – 15.4% (SDE as a percentage of gross revenues)
- Median Purchase Price – $365,000
So here are some of the multiples which create the reference points in the sales comps.
- Median Purchase Price as a percentage of SDE – 2.5 times SDE. The 25th percentile businesses achieved 1.9 times SDE while the 75th percentile sales hit 3.1 times SDE.
- Median Purchase Price as a percentage of EBITDA – 5.0 times EBITDA. The 25th percentile businesses achieved 3.0 times EBITDA while the 75th percentile companies hit 11.6 times EBITDA.
- Median Purchase Price as a percentage of annual Gross Revenues – 41%. The 25th percentile businesses achieved 32% of revenues while the 75th percentile companies got 49% of revenues. The 90th percentile PM companies reached 73% of revenues.
Again, these numbers don’t tell the whole valuation story. They certainly shouldn’t be used as arbitrary conclusions of your company’s value.
First off, there are marketplace considerations which can drive values up or down. These figures are national. There will be state and regional variations in value. Companies with office locations in rural and small towns will see fewer buyers, and lower prices, than those in major metros.
Timing also plays a role. There was a record number of property management companies sold in 2018. As we work through our post-COVID futures in 2020, the multiples are likely to get pushed down. The typical timeframe to sell a PM business is between 6-12 months.
With these comps in mind, our business valuation experts will then examine the 8 key drivers of your company value to refine the pricing. Included in those calculations is your personal readiness to sell the business.
So these sales comps are good tools as a starting point in the valuation process. But you’d make a big mistake in presuming these are how much your business is worth.
That’s why we encourage you to sign up for a ManageVisors business valuation. It’s free and takes a much deeper dive into the factors that determine the pricing of your company. We also offer fee-based certified valuations, recommended when making decisions related to stock purchases, estate planning and legal matters.
This post intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal, tax or investment advice. There is no guarantee that any claims made are accurate or will come to pass. ManageVisors does not warrant the accuracy of the information. Consult a financial, tax or legal professional for specific information related to your own situation.