This is an all too common question I hear, followed by “is there something I should know?”.
The short answer is there really aren’t any more inns on the market today than when I got started in 2008.
Let’s not forget that tourism is one of Maine’s top industries (along with agriculture, manufacturing, fishing and mining). Where there is tourism, there will be inns for sale. And in a growing housing market, (let’s also not forget an inn is often the innkeeper’s home as well), sometimes we see an increase in B&Bs on the market when the inventory of homes on the market increases. When buyers are looking, a seller should list, right? It’s about supply and demand. That’s nothing new. I remember that from junior high. Just a few years ago… 🙂
Something else to remember, being an innkeeper isn’t typically a lifelong job. There are many innkeepers who’ve been in the industry for many years, but it’s often a transitional job. Let’s face it, generally speaking, being an innkeeper is an all-in, give it everything you’ve got type of job. If you want to be a good innkeeper. Aside from the time off you take, when you are working, you are ON. Like a light switch. There’s no dimmer. You have to be full on, ready to be, and provide, the best service you can. And if you fail, your reviews will show and your business will suffer. So the effort and the constant level of expectation can take its toll on an innkeeper. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. But I do mean that the hands-on owner innkeeper is holding up nicely if they’re successful and still smiling 10+ years later. Things are different if you have a larger property with staff you fully trust, to give you a more hands off experience. Then it becomes more of your job than a lifestyle job. More overseeing of staff. And many inn buyers want to get away from that aspect of their more corporate jobs, and run a small ship. You’ve heard the lifespan of an innkeeper is 7 years? These days we are seeing more innkeepers at 10+ years. But it remains an interim job. A really great one at that.
A very common reason for an innkeeper selling is kids/grandkids. Many innkeepers are at the point where they want to spend time (during the summer in particular) with their families, most of whom are out of state. And they want to see their grandchildren. But some innkeepers have raised a family during their tenure as an innkeeper and realize they want to spend some time as a family, away from the inn, before their children head off to college. They’ve only spent time sharing their time with guests and family. That can take its toll. Again, not a negative, just reality. And something that affects an innkeeper’s decision to sell.
So as you browse the web for bed and breakfasts for sale, keep this in mind. The reason for selling isn’t usually a negative one!