Adam Meredith

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Why Does A Cash-Paying Partner Need To Be On An Aircraft Loan? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers your questions about cash-paying partners on aircraft loans.

    Many lenders require that all partners are on the lien, even if one of those partners is paying cash. In particular it’s fairly common with lower-dollar loan amounts. And frankly, it’s a tradition that should be changed. 

    Lenders need a formal agreement with all parties involved in the ownership of the asset—the aircraft—stating that the lender has a first-priority interest in the aircraft in the event the loan goes into default.

    Generally speaking, there are two methods to achieve that aim. The most efficient way is to have all parties to the transaction attach themselves to the loan, the lien. The second way is by drawing up an addendum document, commonly known as a subordination agreement. The subordination agreement doesn’t tie the cash-paying participant to any of the debts or other obligations assigned in the loan. It’s a stipulation of first position rights by the lender and an acknowledgment by the cash party of that stipulation.

    One of these options is more customer friendly than the other. One is more traditional than the other. Our belief is in an age when loans have become as commoditized as they have become, lenders should emphasize customer service over tradition.

    Lenders might argue that the extra fees generated from creating a subordination agreement is not customer friendly. For instance, for loans between $20K and $50K, that extra cost could approach 4 %. In many a lender’s mind, that additional financial burden on the borrower is more nuisance than convenience.

    In more upmarket transactions, a PC-12, a TBM or a Cirrus, for example, where the loan amount is well north of half a million, lenders tend to be more willing to accommodate. That’s because the added cost as a percentage of the total loan is much smaller and therefore only minimally impacts them.

    We live in a world where people are more willing to pay for convenience. It would behoove banks to offer the option of drawing up subordination agreements for lower value loans if the borrowers believe that to be in their best interest. Doing so relieves the cash partner of loan default liability and credit exposure. And the bank can rightly charge for the convenience.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on July 30, 2020.

     

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Difficulties Financing an Aircraft for Leaseback see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the challenges of financing aircraft leased back to a flight school or flying club due to higher-than-normal aircraft usage.

    The usage equates to two things: number of hours flown annually and the type of hours flown. Aircraft leased back to flying clubs will typically accrue fewer hours than those leased to a flight school. Additionally, flight training hours will be harder on an aircraft’s engine and airframe because students and inexperienced pilots are harder on equipment than experienced pilots.

    The flying club may go so far as to stipulate that members can’t join without a certain level of experience. A privately-owned airplane is flying a lot at 100 hours per year. An airplane on leaseback to a flying club could fly 200-300 hours per year. A popular flight school might see double that. More hours on the engine mean more hours on the airframe, lowering the airplane’s value. When it comes to the engine, that accelerated use could force an overhaul before typically anticipated in an amortization schedule, significantly eroding an airplane’s market value. This is what makes lenders nervous.

    For example, let’s take a 1980 Cessna 182 worth $100K with a mid-time engine and decent avionics and interior. The prospective buyer wants to lease back to a flying club. Let’s say the lender values the same aircraft at TBO at $85K but also expects you to reach TBO in a certain number of years under normal usage. For a leaseback to a flying club, the lender might typically expect to see 150-250 hours a year. A lender can tolerate 300 hours or maybe even 350 hours, but higher than that and depreciation accelerates. Additionally, instead of an overhaul in five to seven years, you’ll need one in two or three.

    For these reasons, lenders have a minimum loan of $100K and require a 30% down payment to finance a plane destined for flight school or flying club leaseback. So $30K down and then a $30K overhaul in two-three years means an owner essentially has put $60K cash into a plane that’s worth $105K with the overhauled engine.

    Some aircraft are more likely leaseback candidates than others. A $400K or $500K SR22 is a good example. This could be ideal for a flying club or for a flight school that also rents aircraft. It’s also worth noting there are some options for leaseback to flying clubs with only 25% down and a $25K minimum loan amount, but the aircraft must be owned personally, not in an LLC. Give AOPA Aviation Finance a call if this is a situation you’d like to explore. Depending upon the current residual value in your aircraft, there might be room for a deal.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on July 9, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Do Most Lenders Offer 100% Financing? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers aircraft financing questions.

    Question: I’m working with a broker who indicates he has lenders who will do 100% financing as long as the purchase price leaves at least 15% equity in the purchase.  From looking at some of his planes he is selling with 0 down, it looks like he isn’t fibbing. Rates are fixed and vary from 4.2-4.9% (presumably based on credit score) and they are 20-year term loans with no penalties.  

    Is this something that can be done by most lenders or is this specific to whatever lenders he may be working with? 

    Answer: The short answer is no, most lenders won’t finance more than 85% of the purchase price.

    Here’s the logic behind that decision. If you were to negotiate the purchase price down from $100k to $85k it really wasn’t worth $100k. That’s not to say you couldn’t turn around and potentially find a buyer for $100k, you might, especially if you were willing to spend money for marketing and were willing to wait it out for the right buyer to come along. The banks, however, know that if they had to sell the asset, they’re going to look to get out of it as expeditiously as possible and turn it into cash so they can then turn around and lend it back out. That’s why they typically require 15% down on the lesser of the purchase amount or the aircraft value amount.

    More than likely in the scenario you’re discussing (where you have only slightly higher than market rates and 0% down), the broker has an agreement with their lender(s) whereby they will cover any shortfall resulting from a buyer default. This is typically done by an agreement to buy the airplane back at an agreed upon amount.

    The potential bigger problem though with regard to 0% down financing is if there’s a macro event that causes the market to drop 10-20%, when you go to sell the airplane you’re likely going to be upside down in value. Which means you’ll either have to come out of pocket to sell or else keep the airplane until the situation gets better.

    My advice would be to put at least 15% down to give yourself a hedge regardless of what you negotiate in purchase amount. 

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, discusses the hidden or unexpected costs of aircraft ownership. see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the hidden or unexpected costs of aircraft ownership. 

    Major hidden costs, for example, can result when a previous owner has deferred maintenance. You’re better off buying an airplane that’s been regularly used because the owner will typically address issues as they arise in order to continue using the plane regularly.

    It’s a myth that it’s smart to look for an aircraft that’s had low flying time. Less wear and tear on the engine and the airframe? While those are important considerations, they should not be the only ones. After all, these are machines and machines are made to be run. When an aircraft sits, its problems remain hidden.

    Low flying time could mean high maintenance when it’s your time to own the airplane. That’s one reason the first annual inspection can be unusually expensive — another hidden cost. So be prepared.

    Here is a list of other hidden costs associated with aircraft ownership:

    • Expenses incurred when an airplane is tied down outside (as opposed to protected in a hangar), including repainting and reskinning the exterior and replacing or repairing instrument panels, aircraft seats, interiors or even sun-crazed windows.
    • Contaminated fuel, or more likely, a lineman who accidentally fills your gas tanks with the wrong fuel.
    • Unforeseen mechanical failures or mishaps, such as a blown tire, a gear door jamming, a baggage door opening in flight and ejecting an object that damages an elevator or tail surface, etc.
    • Compliance with unforeseen airworthiness directives (ADs).
    • Animal strikes, bird strikes, lightning strikes, prop strikes, strikes by another aircraft taxiing into you.
    • Mud daubers corrupting your pitot-static system or rodents chewing through electrical cables or nesting in your push-pull tubes.
    • Sudden failure of one or more instruments, navigation radios or engine monitors.
    • Even a pandemic.

    The list is extensive but not exhaustive. Hence our advice to add 10% to 15% on top of your projected operations budget, so when those hidden costs reveal themselves, you aren’t surprised.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on June 10, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Finance, answers your aircraft purchase questions. see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers your aircraft purchasing questions.

    Question:  I am a healthy 60 year old, retired student pilot with aspirations to purchase a used Cessna 182 for recreational travel after successfully passing my private pilot check ride. My intention at this point is to pay cash /not finance, but that decision is not based on considerations other than a personal aversion to debt. My expected budget for the purchase is $100-$175K, including any ancillary expenses associated with the purchase (inspections, taxes, fees, etc.) I am ignorant of the various considerations involved in choosing / buying an airplane and am curious about any services AOPA may offer to assist new pilots in purchasing their first airplane.

    Are there benefits to financing? Is there a “playbook” on buying an airplane that AOPA provides for its members? Is there a financial advantage to waiting, i.e., is the current market in used GA aircraft likely to soften into a “buyers market?” Is it typically more cost effective to acquire a low tech platform and update avionics or look for a plane with glass panel already installed? Other considerations not mentioned?

    Answer: The biggest benefit to financing is for folks with cash flow that want to preserve liquidity. Right now, especially, we are seeing people preserve capital either for investing in the market or for a safety margin if things start to get tight, cash flow-wise, down the road. In terms of a “play book”, we have a great resource page on our website for members trying to navigate the purchasing and financing process: https://finance.aopa.org/aviation-finance/first-time-buyers

    At this point, it seems unlikely for the used GA aircraft market to soften. Inventory levels of good 182s was limited prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. What we’ve seen since the COVID-19 outbreak is very few new listings of aircraft for sale, making it just as hard to find deals. Could it change down the road?  Possibly, but at the rate things are going it won’t likely be for a while longer. In terms of acquiring a low tech platform and updating the avionics vs. looking for an airplane with glass panel already installed, you are almost always better off (economically) buying an airplane someone else has done upgrades on. They put the money in but won’t get it back out. We always recommend that members get pre-approved so that when you find the airplane you like you’re not going to lose out to a cash buyer. Please reach out to us by calling 800.627.5263 so we can answer any other questions you may have.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on May 29, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    With Rates Still Falling, Am I Better Off With a Floating Rate? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses adjustable rates and your aircraft purchase. 

    The classic answer is, "It depends." The answer lies in what your time horizon is for holding onto the aircraft you are buying.

    Most lenders offering adjustable rates will have an interest rate floor. And for most of them, that floor is only slight lower than where rates are currently. Remember, lenders have floors because they incur real costs in lending money and also seen rates go negative. Interest rate floors allow them to cover their costs and remain solvent. Therefore, while anyone with an adjustable rate could benefit if rates drop slightly and/or stay flat, borrowers with longer-term hold time horizon risk paying more when interest rates start eventually going back up.

    That said, the latest economic projections indicate the current economic situation we find ourselves in is likely to last between 18 months and two years. Given that the average hold time is somewhere around four years, that means there are a number of people who are holding their aircraft for only a couple of years or less. So, if your time horizon to own an aircraft is less than a couple of years, then yes, absolutely, this is a great time to look at floating rates.

    If your hold time is greater than two to three years, you risk becoming exposed to interest rates floating higher when the economy starts picking up steam. It's not unlikely that the Fed may increase rates in order to stave off inflation. That'll increase the cost of your loan.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on April 30, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Adam Meredith, of AOPA Finance, addresses commonly asked questions on aircraft ownership. see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Finance, addresses commonly asked questions on aircraft ownership during this difficult time.  Purchasing an aircraft can be a challenging process under normal circumstances, but can be even more difficult to navigate during market volatility.

    Question: With the current market volatility, do you find that lenders are tightening or loosening their credit requirements?

    Answer: We have definitely seen some that are tightening credit. Specifically, some lenders are requesting copies of bank/investment statements that are within the last couple of days (vs. 30 days, under regular times). Given stock market volatility this isn’t too surprising. Also, we’ve seen some lenders that are being more cautious lending to individuals with direct financial exposure to COVID-19 (i.e. service industry companies not deemed essential).

    Question: What advice are you giving to members who were currently looking to purchase before all of the shelter in place orders? Should we continue our search or place our search on hold until all of this blows over?

    If you’re personally at high risk (financially or otherwise) to COVID-19, you’d be well advised to pause the purchase process. However, for everyone else, I’d encourage you to keep looking and work with sellers to create a plan for how to push through the closing process. For advice on guidance with shelter in place requirements, reach out to our trusted legal staff if you’re a legal services plan participant. If not, reach out to our Pilot Information Center to get the latest guidance.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on April 23, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    How is the Coronavirus Affecting Used Aircraft Prices? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses how the coronavirus pandemic has affected pricing of used aircraft. 

    As of this writing, the coronavirus pandemic has not resulted in any measurable decline in used aircraft prices. That's not to say it won't over time, but in the near term, prices are holding steady.

    Why aren’t we seeing values lower? Despite being blindsided by the consequences surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation market was already in a unique situation because inventory was pretty thin. Traditionally, when supply is constrained, market pricing will stay roughly the same. That holds true now, despite any drop-in demand that we may be witnessing.

    Another reason prices have remained steady is because fewer owners are listing planes right now. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the ability to close deals (financing, the logistics of inspections and aircraft delivery) that folks are more comfortable sitting on the sidelines than taking the risk of losing out on a deal.

    While the coronavirus pandemic might spur some people to sell, as of yet, there’s been no noticeable uptick in these situations. AOPA Aviation Finance, (“AAF”) is working on a deal right now with a pilot-owner who’s trying to close on a TBM turboprop single. He's buying from an 80-year-old gentleman, but such transactions are rarer than they are regular.

    The bottom line is if you're thinking this might be a good time to pick up something cheap, our answer is, it’s always worth looking, but the markets are efficient and the professionals in the industry help to keep it way, so you’ll have to look hard for those gems.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on April 30, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    How is the Coronavirus Affecting the Closing Process for Aircraft? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the challenges of aircraft closings during the Coronavirus pandemic.

    Unlike real estate, where the exchanged property does not move, the challenge with closing on an aircraft is that eventually it must be flown to its new home. It’s a rare transaction where buyers purchase an airplane from their home airfield. Therefore, how to legally move the aircraft is one major concern for buyers during the coronavirus pandemic. Another is how to get a pre-buy inspection done.

    First, there is the sticky problem of getting an aircraft inspected. It’s not clear whether maintenance and repair shops are currently open to perform pre-buy inspections, or whether their employees can even report to work. Some states have not deemed aviation techs “essential.” What jobs are deemed “essential,” how, and by whom such job designations will be enforced remains up in the air. Even if aviation techs are, parts suppliers might not be. That means needed parts may not get delivered. In normal times, a closing might take 30 days. In these abnormal times, plan on the process stretching to 45 days or more.

    Beyond that, is it legal for a ferry pilot or the new owner to fly an airplane from the airport where it is hangared to its new home base?  State laws vary on the subject. How complicated it will be to transport the aircraft may depend on factors like the route of flight and the number of states involved. Is the airplane going from California to Maine? Or from Wisconsin to Indiana? One has to ask oneself, “Am I going to have a challenge from this state?” Other questions follow, including, “Which governing body would enforce such a challenge — state or federal?” “Is it within FAA or state jurisdiction?” None of that is easy to navigate.

    If you can imagine the difficulty of flying from one European country to another and having to deal with the balkanized ATC system there, then you have some idea of the current complexity surrounding moving an aircraft across state lines during this pandemic. At AOPA Aviation Finance, (“AAF”), our advice is to call AOPA’s Legal Services to get better clarity on your specific situation.

    That is a great benefit of AOPA, having multiple resources all in one place. This complex situation is the perfect time to tap into them.

    Great advice. Great rates. From helpful and responsive reps you can trust. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (800.627.5263), or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on April 30, 2020.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Aircraft Purchases During Stock Market Swings see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses aircraft purchases during stock market swings.

    Q: Given the current volatility of the market, what advice are you giving to members contemplating an aircraft purchase?

    A: In times of volatility, in particular with wild stock market swings, you want to maintain as much cash as possible. Taking a methodical approach of buying into markets that are depressed is arguably more important than having the proverbial crystal ball that helps you get out of the market before a crash. That said, there has probably been no better time to obtain financing, whether it be for your house or airplane, or any other relatively stable asset then now. With interest rates for excellent credits on loans over $2M in the 2.5 to 3.0% range, this is truly an unheard-of period of time. Knowing what options are available is what AOPA Finance does best because of the strength and depth of our membership. Don’t wait to find out what your specific situation looks like, call us and find out how we can help you take advantage of this rare time. 

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on March 11, 2020.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Best Time to Sell an Older Jet see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the ideal time to sell an older aircraft. 

    Above and beyond the upfront cost savings, benefits to acquiring a used jet in great condition include avoiding much of the increased depreciation that besets aircraft in those early years. Of note to sellers, the inventory for well-maintained, 15-year old or younger turbine aircraft is severely limited. That translates into high demand and a market that's in your favor.

    As with many things, putting an older, well-maintained jet on the market involves the right timing. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best time to sell an older jet is right after you’ve done the scheduled, heavy maintenance on it, after you've brought your jet up to date on all of its maintenance events. 

    A jet's optimum selling price point occurs when the aircraft has its lowest maintenance exposure to asking price ratio (ETP). That ratio is expressed as the value of an aircraft as a percentage of unaddressed maintenance due on an aircraft versus the overall market value of the aircraft. When the ETP is at its lowest is also when the aircraft is most desirable. That's why historically, planes that have the lowest ETP tend to sell the quickest. 

    To be clear, this does not include avionics upgrades, only scheduled maintenance. Retrofitting avionics on older jets is not just an expensive proposition, it's also a subjective one. The vast range of options available make it virtually impossible to please everybody. Plus, the money a seller sinks into new avionics probably will not be recouped in the sale. It's better therefore to let the new buyer install the avionics suite of their dreams post-acquisition.

    If it's possible, coordinating the completion of heavy maintenance items with the start of the last quarter of the calendar allows the owner of an older, well-maintained jet to take advantage of the best calendar time of the year to sell it--September through December. That's because many businesses have a fiscal year and a calendar year that parallel each other. Those that do tend to more closely assess ways to manage their bottom line as they approach Q4. That heightened focus on the year-end clarifies whether selling the jet or acquiring one is an appropriate income offset option. For many, it's the perfect time.

    And then there's the tax incentive. When the dollar amounts are more significant and an aircraft is used in business—the possibility of a tax deduction of 100% of the cost of the aircraft does exist, based on the current tax law in place.

    To be fair, getting to 100% is really difficult and the inherent landmines are many. At AOPA Aviation Finance, we strongly advise anybody pursuing that goal to talk to their tax experts before attempting such a course of action. I should also point out that the latest regulations that came through in 2017 closed some significant aviation-related loopholes. For instance, capital gains deferment into another aircraft purchase is no longer a legal option. A discussion with your accountant on how you’re going to manage your tax liability is a must. When you do go to sell, there will be capital gains tax implications. 

    Bottom line: If you own a well-maintained, older jet and it's fresh out of maintenance, now's the best time to consider selling it. ETP is low and demand is high.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on November 18, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    If It Seems Too Good To Be True... see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares what's important when financing your aircraft. 

    Thanks to recent, historically low interest rates, AOPA Aviation Finance (“AAF”) has been approached more and more frequently with similar versions of the same story. It goes like this: Somebody they know got a fantastic offer with a phenomenal rate--like 2.9%--on their latest airplane acquisition. Then they want to know if they can get the same deal. When we tell them the reality of that happening is extremely slim, disappointment is always the resulting sentiment. 

    Here’s why deals like that just don’t happen. A bank must make money on the loans it services, otherwise it fails. It costs banks money to acquire the money they loan to customers. The rate they pay for that money is called the “cost of funds.” For example, they might buy a five-year note from the Treasury at 1.66%. That is their cost of funds. The difference between the lending rate charged to their customers and a bank’s cost of funds is the “net interest margin.”

    That net interest margin is a bank’s primary income stream. All expenses, from salaries to rent to utilities, etc. are debited from that net interest margin. Those healthy reserves banks must maintain to cover losses from bad loans also come out of that same source. Even though the cost of funds for each bank is unique to their circumstances, that figure is typically based upon a universally-recognized benchmark like the overall yield curve of the US Treasuries.

    For illustrative purposes, let’s say the bank bought five-year Treasury notes @ 1.66%. Their cost of business is 166 basis points. Typically, banks tend to start lending at 200 basis points above their cost of business. Let’s face it, that starting point is for a bank’s best customers—folks with cash collateral, amazing credit, are well-known to the bank, etc. Doing the math, 200 basis points above a 1.66% cost of business equals 366, or 3.66%, so….

    For a bank to offer a client a 2.9% interest rate, or 290 basis points, on an aircraft loan, given the above example would mean the bank would have to be willing to reduce its net interest margin from 200 basis points to only 124. What would possess a bank structure such a “skinny deal?” After all, as one of my graduate school finance professors used to repeat incessantly, “There’s no free lunch.” 

    A deep-pocketed client who is very familiar to the lending bank and whose investments are already being fee-managed by that bank could be one reason a bank might make an exception to the rule. AOPA Aviation Finance recently brokered a super mid cabin, new aircraft deal valued at over 20 million dollars. The borrower had an existing relationship with a bank where AAF had an existing relationship with its aircraft group. The bank wasn't aware that our client was looking to purchase an aircraft, and the client wasn’t aware his bank had an aircraft financing group.

    Because we had relationships with both, we were able to articulate the reasons for keeping the deal in-house. The bank was already very familiar with the client and his financials; the bank’s aviation group had done several deals of this size and type before; the client’s substantial financial holdings with the bank allowed the bank to stipulate, and the borrower to agree to, using his accounts as collateral for the loan. 

    Banks love to leverage liquid assets over the airplane. It’s much easier to reach into an account to make oneself whole if a loan goes bad than it is to sell an aircraft, no matter how popular the model. And not insignificantly, pointing out that allowing another bank to finance the aircraft would open the door to that other financial institution potentially enticing the client (and their money) away, helped motivate our client getting, far and away, the most competitive rate and best structure possible.

    Still, that’s a very rare, real world example. That said, AOPA Aviation Finance may find great deals for folks who’ve got investments with certain lenders. At the end of the day, whether your financial situation is typical or “unicorn,” our process will match you up with the best lender for your circumstances. 

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on December 10, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Deposits see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses when a deposit is required and why during your aircraft deal.

    Typically, larger airplane transactions require deposits, specifically, deals of a million dollars or more. Why do lenders ask for a deposit? As the old saying goes, “Trust, but verify.” 

    Larger transactions tend to involve assessing more sophisticated, more complicated financials. Often multiple legal entities may be involved. Each of the entities need to be reviewed, requiring substantially more due diligence. The additional due diligence accrues additional costs in the form of time, resources, third-party background checks, and other checks and searches. All of those things equate to unavoidable upfront costs. 

    Understandably, a lender is loath to go out of pocket on a transaction after putting forth so much effort. It’s not enough to trust that a borrower is committed to the deal. A deposit verifies that commitment. The size of the deposit depends on the selling price. It’s usually proportional, ranging from a couple thousand dollars up to one percent of what’s been negotiated. 

    It’s always prudent to expect to submit a deposit, even when the topic isn’t initially mentioned. Deposit discussions generally occur after a term sheet--a broad estimate of structure-- is drawn up and then agreed to by both parties. Only once the borrower agrees to the terms and conditions and decides to move forward should a deposit discussion take place. Anything sooner should fire off alarm bells.

    If your transaction requires a deposit, we cannot overstate the importance of dealing with a trusted financial institution or escrow company If in doubt, give AOPA Aviation Finance a call. We work with trusted escrow agents all the time. We will help you find one with which both parties to your transaction can feel comfortable. 

    If you’re working through a bank, our position is that institution is an appropriate place to hold the deposit. If you’re not working with a bank, we strongly recommend an escrow agent to handle that duty. In past articles, I referenced using third-party escrow services to hold the deposit. That’s because there are occasions when it is better to have an escrow agent bear the burden. A broker or a private party seller are examples of entities which are not highly regulated, if at all. As such they don’t have as much exposure to liability and are proportionally more difficult to extract compensation from should the deal go awry, compared to highly regulated banks. 

    Escrow companies tend to carry errors and omissions insurance, and many of the good ones are also bonded. Neither of those assurances match the accountability found in banking regulations, though. With your deposit at a bank, regulators and regulations back you in the event the deal goes sideways.

    Enlisting the services of someone trusted like AOPA Aviation Finance will ensure whomever you work with is properly vetted, and that you are working with reputable folks. Regardless of whom you add to your team to work on the deal, important questions to ask and get answered before putting down a deposit include, “Are you bonded? What errors and omissions insurance do you have? Do you have references from satisfied customers? Have you ever been sued?”

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on December 10, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    What Do I Want the Seller to Fix see more

    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.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Structuring an Aircraft Sale to a Flight School see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers your aviation finance questions.

    Q: Hi Adam, I’m the owner of a 77 B-55 Baron. My local flight school is interested in purchasing it but is unable to finance. Any ideas on how to structure a sale?

    A: If the flight school is unable to secure financing through an SBA loan or other means, seller financing might be an option. With AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services added to your membership you will have access to consultation with one of our panel attorneys. They would be able to help set up the appropriate contracts to facilitate the sale. 

    Q: I'm an AOPA member that recently purchased an airplane in Missouri and brought it back to North Carolina two days after purchase.  I intend to eventually incorporate business use into my flight time, but for now the use is personal.  I have two questions:  What sales tax can I expect to pay on this purchase, and from what state would I be taxed? I intend to upgrade avionics for ADS-B requirements.  If I incorporate business use into my flying before the avionics purchase, is any of this deductible or do I need to put it under an LLC before this happens?

    A: For tax-related questions your CPA would be able to provide the appropriate answers. Additionally, AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services has in house attorneys that specialize in aviation tax law. Adding PPS to your membership will give you access to these attorneys.  

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on October 23, 2019.