Has the recession landed at airparks?

What affect has the economic slowdown had on airpark properties?

Over the years, we’ve found that the general aviation industry usually goes into recession a little later than other businesses and takes longer to recover.

But what about the residential airpark movement? Our past surveys revealed a profile of airpark residents as being between 45-60 years old, children usually gone, well-established in careers or professions and financially in the upper middle-class. How have they been affected by today’s economic conditions?

We recently asked subscribers to Living With Your Plane to complete a new survey. It is certainly not scientific. We received 26 responses. That’s not a tremendous number but ,considering we count about 625 residential airparks in the country, the responses represent about 4%. Additionally, completed surveys came from 14 states: Arizona, Florida, Texas, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

The survey revealed that eight airparks had sales of established homes, while 13 others reported no sales during the pastyear. Of the eight airparks that reported sales, seven indicated there were five or fewer homes sold during the year, while one reported have sales of more than 10 homes. Most of the homes sold were in the $176,000 to $500,000 range, while four homes sold for $500,000 or more.

Vacant lots were sold on a dozen airparks. Prices ranged from less than $25,000 (only a single sale reported at that level), to five sales at the $25,000 to $75,000 level; four in the $76,000 to $125,000 level; and five airparks reported lots sold at more than $125,000 each.

Was there a reason why vacant lots or homes on some airparks sold and other didn’t? The survey revealed that four sales were on airparks located less than 10 miles from a major city. There were 11 transactions on airparks located 10 to 25 miles from a large city; and just three on airparks located more than 50 miles from a metropolis.

Because airparks vary so widely, it follows that what’s happening at airparks today is also quite varied.

“We’ve seen a recent increase in real estate activity,” said one official at Whiteplains Plantation in Gilbert, S.C. “During the past six to eight months we have averaged an inquiry per month and have been visited by several families who have toured our fly-in community neighborhood. There are at least two real estate closings coming up in the near future.”

But others report that they’ve had buyers back out of sales, citing the failing economy.

“Most buyers are frozen in their old homes, waiting to sell and buy here,” said another airpark developer. “Sellers are waiting for the market to come alive again. We have noticed an increase in activity this spring.”

At Hensley Airpark in Chuckey, Tenn., developers are seeing steady sales.

“We have eight homes completed and five under construction, along with their hangars. Out of 49 lots total, we have sold 32. We do have one home resale available and have had a few interested prospects.”


  1. says

    We have lived and worked from our residence at F-25 ( Brownsville, CA) since 1/1/07. We do residential and ADA elevators in Northern CA. My property is one acre, 4000 sq ft all metal hangar, 1800 sq ft manufactured home(2005) . I bought it for 412k 1/1/07 and the county assessor says it is worth 245k now. Glad it works for me because I wouldn’t hold much hope for a sale anytime soon.

    There was one house sold in the last year for 175k with 1 acre, no hangar but airport access if they built a hangar ( sold to a non-pilot ).

    There is one small old house for sale with 2 lots ( 1 ac ea) a small hangar ( 1500 sq ft ) . They are asking 200k, he started at over 400K. There is another up the hill with a long taxi to the airport( 1/4 mi ). It is 5 ac and a fairly nice home 1800 sq ft with 2 hangars . They are asking 599k, he started at over 800k. Both of the above mention houses were on the market long before I bought and I expect that they will be available for some time to come.

    Around here a metal hangar would cost about $45/sq ft complete and a nice manufactured home would be about $ 100/ sq ft . So if you do the math, my property should be 360k plus the 1 acre ( 75k) so that said, you can buy them much cheaper than you can build …considering all the county fees and the attitude of adversity prevalant in CA building and planning depts.

    Our association of homeowners with access to F-25 is 23 homes and 12 airplanes on the field. There are only 3 that fly once a month and I am the most active pilot with 2 to 3 A&D per week. We are VFR daylight only.

    Ok, so now that I cheered you up….the real story is that GA is dying with the WW II crop of pilots. Guys my age ( 57 ) haven’t spent the time and $ for 20+ years of flying. Most of these people get a Harley. The only hope for GA is experimental LSA : NOT factory certified, they are too expensive when you compare it to the price and training level needed for a Harley.

    My # is 800-668-9657 if you want more of my BS

    Jerry T Lawrence

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