Autumn is traditionally the best time to sell an airplane. Buyer's are looking to make year-end decisions, often for tax reasons, and 2017 has has been no exception. In many ways, Q4 2017 has surpassed previous years by a wide margin. Is it because of an overall strong economy, the prospect of lower taxes, pilot medical reform, the need to upgrade capital equipment, rising aircraft prices, or all of the above? The bigger question is whether or not this momentum will continue in to 2018?
So, what types of airplanes are driving this activity? This commentary will reference the piston and single-engine turbo prop markets only. Buyers want consistency, pedigree, and recency.
They want consistent and frequent operation. Airplanes that have sat for extended periods, even if low time, are not attractive. A misconception among sellers is that buyers want low time engines but that's only half of the story. What they really want are engines that have been frequently used. A low time engine with minimal use over an extended period is considered a gamble by most buyers.
They want pedigree, meaning thorough, capable, and first-rate maintenance. They want more than minimal maintenance. If you're one of those owners who brag about your $1,000 annual then you're going to be in for a surprise when buyers don't appreciate your frugality.
And, buyers want recency. In other words, they want an updated panel (it doesn't have to be state-of-the-art though), they want a 30 year old airplane to have an upgraded interior, and they want to feel like they're buying a plane that doesn't look like it's a blast from the past.
Consistency. Pedigree. Recency. How does your plane measure up?