NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares what a buyer should negotiate that the seller fix before the purchase.
The pre-purchase inspection report will drive the negotiation. It will determine what must be fixed; what should be fixed; and what could be fixed later at some other point. What “must be fixed” are all airworthiness items and Airworthiness Directives. What “should be fixed” relates to operational integrity items. All else falls under “what could be fixed later.” Generally, the buyer wants the seller to cover the cost of all AD issues.
Of course, there are exceptions to consider. Let’s say the seller’s estimate to fix all the AD-related squawks is $100,000. Let’s say s/he knows of an A&P with whom they have a good relationship. The A&P says the work can be done for $80,000. In that case, it may be more attractive for that buyer to negotiate a price reduction of $100,000 instead of having the seller fix those items. The buyer could realize a 20% savings. But in this scenario, the logistics involved in obtaining a ferry permit and flying the aircraft to a mechanic’s base must also be factored in. If those additional costs approach the $20,000 the buyer hoped to save, it might be better to put the onus back on the seller.
“What should be fixed” can be considered those items that may have an operational or usage impact but don’t otherwise jeopardize the airworthiness of the aircraft. For example, a spot of corrosion the size of a baseball on the rudder should be fixed. But if the buyer’s intention is to repaint the aircraft anyway, it might be better to negotiate a price reduction than to make the seller eliminate the corrosion pre-sale.
An intermittent HSI or DGI are examples of “what could be fixed later.” If the buyer’s intention is to upgrade the panel post-acquisition, it’s better to lower the price accordingly and then take care of the failing device during the entire avionics upgrade.
Determining what the seller should fix is also influenced by the buyer’s general attitude toward an aircraft purchase. Some folks don’t want to deal with any aircraft issues. They just want the plane delivered squawk free. Others have a higher tolerance for addressing issues.
These are some of the guiding questions an AOPA Aviation Finance advisor might ask you to help assess your personal tolerance for handling pre-purchase inspection squawks: How important is it to you to have it fixed vs. receiving credit? How long can you stand to go without fixing the item? How urgent is it that you get it replaced or fixed? What kind of relationship do you have with a qualified mechanic? How much effort are you willing to expend in finding a qualified mechanic to save some money? How does this plane’s overall condition stack up against others in the marketplace? In other words, is there enough supply vs. demand in the marketplace to give you any negotiating leverage?
For example, we’ve seen a recent surge in the popularity of the Cessna 182. To buyers in that market, we would advise they come prepared with a flexible negotiation mindset. You can have a particular mindset, but if you have to compare your mindset to the realities of the market, you may have to adjust it. After all, there might be ten other potential buyers lined up behind you who are willing to deal with that leaky door seal post-purchase instead of demanding “it simply must be repaired before closing at seller’s expense.”
Our experience and advice apply as much to the seller as it does to the buyer. A recent client wanted to sell his Piper Warrior for a price he thought fair. We advised him that an aircraft like his that fits in the flight training usage profile would likely sell for better than what he imagined he could get. We recommended a higher asking price. He took our advice and received bids even above that amount.
Our advisors have deep knowledge of both the market and demand. AOPA Aviation Finance has an extensively researched database and can provide guidance on the relative market strengths and weaknesses of most aircraft, from the common to the esoteric.
This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on November 18, 2019.