Curious about airparks? Our expert tackles the frequently asked questions

For three decades I’ve been tracking residential airparks all over the United States and, to some extent, around the globe.

We’ve developed a website, LivingWithYourPlane.com, which contains an extensive database on airparks as well as a host of other information. (A caveat: Most airparks are operated by residents who are volunteers in their homeowner associations. As a result, trying to get them to keep us advised of changes in contact information, such as phone numbers, is difficult. The rest of the airpark and airport information is highly accurate however.)

Since I speak about residential airparks at aviation events around the country and we promote our directory of residential airparks in GANews and The Southern Aviator, I get numerous email and phone inquiries. I’ve done a lot of non-aviation newspaper, magazine and radio talk show interviews. These efforts help support the interest in airparks and also assist those living on them – or interested in doing so in the future – with getting factual information.

One of the most frequently asked questions concerns the interest in residential airparks. Is there more interest in the properties? Has it been increasing or decreasing? Where is it centered?

The interest in residential airparks has been increasing at an excellent rate for many years. A heightened interest in residential airparks, from what I’ve seen, began about six months after the tragedy of Sept. 11.

This has come from several factors.

Obviously security is a high item. Pilots and airplane owners want to know who has been near their airplanes and who is in or around other airplanes nearby. Many have come to realize that airplanes at residential airparks have tremendous security from being in closely-watched hangars, frequently attached to or built as part of the houses. There’s the security of knowing your neighbors and their planes.

Another reason for the increase in residential airpark interest is the extra hassle, real or perceived, of having your airplane parked at a public airport. There’s the additional fencing, the need to go through an FBO’s office, the problem of driving your car to the airplane and even the challenge to get your friends and passengers to your airplane in the warm, friendly manner you did before the terrorist attacks.

In addition to the security aspects, there are also strong financial reasons for people to become more and more interested in residential airparks.

If you live in a metropolitan area, or even not too far from one, tiedown fees and hangar charges have continued to spiral upward. And, that’s only if you can get a hangar because there is a definite shortage of good hangar space around the country.

Many airplane owners are realizing that the big bucks they have to shell out for hangar space on a community airport can be switched to helping make payments on a lot or house on a residential airpark. The resulting property becomes an escalating investment rather than rent payments down the drain.

Most residential airparks are pleasant, quiet places with lots of open space and neighbors who, for the most part, have similar interests — flying and things related to aviation.

After people get past these issues, they usually ask about valuations of airpark homes and buying and selling the properties.

In most instances, according to the results of surveys we’ve conducted, residential airpark properties sell for a premium to like properties in the same community. This premium can be as high as 25%, from what we are told.

The downside of that scenario is that the homes on residential airparks usually take a lot longer to sell than similar properties in the same community. Often, this means a property can take twice as long to sell and this is obviously a negative factor.

There are good reasons for the higher prices and the longer sales times and they are the same for both issues.

Obviously, there are fewer people wanting to live on a residential airpark than, let’s say, a golf course community. And, of that limited number, those interested in any given state reduces the numbers even more.

Thus, when someone finally decides to buy or sell, the market is much more limited. That means if your property is in the right spot and has the right amenities you can probably get a lot more for it. But, finding the person who wants that exact combination usually takes a lot more time.

Generally speaking, residential airparks within 25 miles of large cities do very well. Those airparks frequently involve at least 20 and up to 100 homesites. The property values are all over the place, as are the homeowner fees and airpark amenities.

Residential airparks are growing in interest and number. They are usually good investments. Like any subdivision there is a potential for problems, so it is critical that you check out the covenants, conditions and restrictions that go with the property before you sign the papers.

You can learn a lot by going to our website.

Dave Sclair was co-publisher of General Aviation News from 1970-2000. Co-founder of Living With Your Plane, he is recognized as an expert on airparks.

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