You can’t sell a house without a buyer!

Succession can be hard. My wife and I are learning this first hand as we are about to be empty nesters. As I mentioned in a previous blog our youngest daughter is off to Iowa State University to start the next chapter of her life. As a result, we are attempting to sell our house so that we can downsize.

It sounds so simple: pick up a little bit, put out a sign or two, and wait for people to get into a bidding war (after all that is what happens on HGTV). Then reality hits…


  • Stage the home (defined as hiding all of the stuff you actually use in life but someone else may confuse as “clutter.”)
  • Paint rooms that 24 hours prior to deciding to sell looked fine.
  • Fix things that you didn’t even realize were broken.
  • Upgrade things that you would have liked to have had a decade ago but you never thought were worth the money.

And then you wait…and wait…and wait. And what if nobody shows up? You can’t sell a house without a buyer.

Selling houses happens every day and is still very stressful for the seller. What must it be like to sell a business? After all, a whole lot more people need a house than want to own a business.

What if no one wants to buy your company? Do you have any options?

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) may be the strategy you are looking for. An ESOP is a qualified defined contribution retirement plan that provides contributions for the benefit of eligible employees and is invested primarily in the stock of the sponsoring company. The company (selling owner) can establish the plan which can pay up to fair market value for the stock. This provides the owner a flexible way to sell all or a portion of their stock.

If only it were that simple with a house.  Want to sell your company? Take a look at how an ESOP may fit.

In addition to blogging here, I also tweet regularly about topics of interest to ESOPs. Click to follow me on Twitter –  @jlripperger.

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While this communication may be used to promote or market a transaction or an idea that is discussed in the publication, it is intended to provide general information about the subject matter covered and is provided with the understanding that none of the member companies of The Principal are rendering legal, accounting, or tax advice. It is not a marketed opinion and may not be used to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, or accounting obligations and requirements.
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