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January 7, 2019
19 on '19

Hospitality: Inns face challenges, but finding buyers is not one of them

Photo / Courtesy of Rick Wolf
Photo / Courtesy of Rick Wolf
Rick Wolf, owner and partner with the B&B Team

Rick Wolf is an owner and partner with the B&B Team, specializing in lodging brokerage and consulting.

Despite uncertainty in the stock market and "the chaos" of national politics, he's bullish on the lodging industry. The market will remain robust as buyers continue to seek opportunities in Maine.

"There were a couple of ticks up on the interest rate, but it's still at incredibly low levels, which is attractive," he says. "One thing we've seen more is buyers recognizing that they can utilize their 401(k) restricted retirement funds and self-direct them into a new corporation. It is their corporation, so they're investing in themselves, which gives buyers greater control over their investments."

In addition, banks remain interested as lenders, he says. "They recognize the importance of what hospitality contributes to the Maine economy," he says.

On the operations side, workforce shortages will continue to plague the industry. "The H-2B visa is a political football," he says. "But there are no quick fixes."

The shortage affects inn-keeping operations and will continue to do so, especially in competitive markets with multiple hospitality properties, but limited populations. "It all reflects on the total package the inn is offering," he says. "If you have a good staff, you need to care about them — how you treat them, how you pay them, how you empower them so they feel their contribution makes a difference."

The worker shortage is not expected to stall the buyer's market. "Fundamentally we remain optimists," he says. "We just put a property under letter of intent yesterday, we've got closings coming up between Christmas and New Year's. We've got a couple more in the works. I'm talking with a couple this morning who I believe will be putting in an offer on a property. So Maine remains very active."

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