There’s been a lot written over the years about the best strategies for selling airplanes. The advice covers everything from updating paint and interior to avionics upgrades to showcasing the latest features and benefits for prospective buyers. You name it, it’s been covered. Let’s cut to the chase though. What really is the bottom line when it comes to aircraft sales? No mystery here….it is the bottom line.
In other words, what are you planning to ask for your plane? There absolutely must be a logical reason (and one that can be supported) behind your pricing. There are things you can do to boost the value, but if the airplane is not priced properly then it really doesn’t much matter because buyers who perceive you’re out in left field won’t even call. What you originally spent on the plane, the sum total you’ve invested since you bought it, what you owe on the plane, what you need for retirement, and what others may be asking all have no bearing on what your asking price should be. The asking price should reflect what similar aircraft have actually sold for and be at a point that will not place the new owner upside down if they have to repair or upgrade items you’ve neglected. It must be based on depreciated prices for installed equipment and only include the value for tangible items (ie, not the cost of labor to install). Unfortunate is the owner who overpaid for their plane (or who have invested way too much in it) and are holding on to the hope that some other poor sucker will come along and overpay too.
You may find yourself in a situation where you want to sell your plane but the numbers just don’t add up. Whatever you do, don’t put it on the market hoping that some magical buyer will pay your unjustified price. The best thing you can do is to keep flying the plane and then reevaluate the sale at a later time. This often happens when an owner has just dropped a small fortune into maintenance related items. If you’re pricing your plane as if everything is working then you get no added value bringing things up to standard. Offers will negatively reflect any deferred maintenance however.
A good aircraft broker will help you with price the plane properly based on experience and market data. A better aircraft broker will acknowledge that pricing is not an exact science and will agree to list at a slightly higher number than they normally would (for a short period of time) to make sure nothing is being left on the table. Sometimes an owner/seller needs to experience first-hand feedback before coming to grips with market realities.
If you’ve read between the lines then you can see the importance of keeping a positive cash position in any aircraft you own. Owners who are highly leveraged often have a difficult time selling a plane for what it’s worth. They have enough cash flow to continue funding the payment but not enough cash to actually sell. Over the years I’ve seen far too many people turn down a slightly lower price than they wanted only to have the next offers come in even lower. That, my friends, is a tough and unenviable position to be in.
Bottom line though is the bottom line. Price the airplane appropriately and you will most likely be rewarded with a shorter time to sell, more offers to consider, and with any luck, a higher net sales price when all factors are considered.