By BILL WILSON
If you plan to sell your airplane in this market, be prepared to dance.
You’ll probably have to two-step, twist, boogie and maybe try some new routines before you’ll get that plane sold. And it won’t be the romantic experience you were looking for.
Love is not in the air in the airplane market of today. Buyers rule and they act more like a divorcing spouse than a brother of the feather.
It took me all summer to sell an attractively priced light-sport aircraft and come through with some skin left.
Friends with standard category aircraft that can’t be flown under light-sport rules have fared worse. They are taking offers they couldn’t have imagined not long ago. Pretty soon we’ll all be trading aircraft, boats, RVs and houses with no money changing hands.
Here’s a few of the interesting characters out there.“I’ve Just Got To Have It.”
Do you know this person? You get a call in the middle of the night because he’s just seen your ad and he’s already emotionally connected with the aircraft. It fulfills a life-long desire and he’s passionate to be its next owner. He’s talking about dropping everything and rushing up to see it.
Don’t get your hopes up despite the heavy breathing. Passion cools quickly. My bet is one more phone call and that’s the last you’ll hear from him because that’s all it will take for him to realize how far away you really are and how tough it’s going to be to find time and money to get there.The Chatter Upper
“Tell me all about your (fill in the model).” No matter how much detail about background, condition, performance and history you put in your ad, nobody seems to read it. The caller acts like the small book you wrote was too difficult to comprehend, so he’s got to speak to you in person about it.
Oh well, the FAA says you must be English proficient to be licensed. Hearing from the horse’s mouth is fine, but at least ask questions that supplement the existing material. Why waste people’s time going over the same thing?“I’ll be coming through your area…”
This is a tire kicker for sure. Some people are professional lookers. Others harbor the real desire to purchase something like you’ve got but will probably never get around to it for various reasons. In both cases they just can’t deny themselves the chance to drop in on you and take up your time, which, after all, is free, right? I draw the line when these folks want a demo flight.“My Partners Say They’ll Do Whatever I Want.”
Those partners are either crazy or this guy’s lying. Few people are going to spend several thousand dollars without seeing, feeling and sampling the product. Full disclosure: I did it once.“We’ll Want A Fresh Annual And Oil Analysis.”
If you’re close to annual time it might be a good idea to do the annual. Perhaps oil analysis would help your sales case. But more often than not buyers and sellers will accommodate each other by combining a pre-purchase inspection with an annual and work out a cost sharing arrangement in cases like this. What burns up sellers is a looker who starts making demands before he shows the money.Unreasonable Expectations
Get used to them in this market. People want perfection from used aircraft. They want a $100,000 plane for $30,000. They want you to deliver it, guarantee it and fix everything that might go wrong in the next five years. They want you to transition them into it for free if you’re an instructor.
The plane I just sold was a taildragger. One guy wanted a freebie tailwheel endorsement. I was waiting for him to demand that I pay for the gas.
You’ll end up dancing around the the ad wording when the calls stop, the FAA paperwork nightmare if it’s an old airplane, the misconceptions in the marketplace about your particular airframe and engine, the paint job quality, the delivery costs, and whether the potential buyer would really like this model or not.
This market is a very long way from any I have ever seen and I’ve bought and sold 20 airplanes in my flying career, all for my own personal and business use.
So, be prepared to dance, and don’t be surprised if the music goes on a long time.