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Real Estate Terms: Turnkey

by Peter Scherman of The B&B Team

Do you know what they mean by “turnkey”, “mostly turnkey”, or “real estate only”?

The terms are frequently seen in advertising of bed & breakfast inns for sale: “turnkey,” “mostly turnkey,” “real estate only,” “real estate and good will.” They provide clues to what is included in the purchase price. Prospective purchasers of an inn need to know exactly what they mean.

Essentially, “turnkey” means that everything that is in place in a bed & breakfast or inn is included in the purchase price. The image conjured is that of a seller leaving the premises, locking up, and handing the key to the new owner, who needs only “turn the key” to be in business. “Partially” or “mostly” turnkey is a more realistic description of an inn sale, as most innkeepers have some personal items distributed around the inn which they plan to keep. While those personal items will be removed, most everything needed to run the inn will remain and is included in the purchase price.

In most cases where a bed & breakfast is being sold, many or most of the furnishings are included. If not, the purchaser is buying “real estate only” or “real estate and good will.” For “real estate only,” only the real property is included in the sale price. In some cases, the personal property may be negotiated separately from the real estate. In rare cases, where a seller is planning to remove all personal property from an inn which has otherwise enjoyed a strong business and loyal following, there may be a premium for the good will, that intangible asset which has value in the market place.

Whichever term has been applied to the sale of an inn, all parties are served by a detailed inventory of all personal property included in the transaction, which is ideally itemized room by room for ease, and should identify those items which are specifically excluded from the sale and which items are not included but are negotiable.

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