aircraft loan

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Is It Beneficial To Get a Loan Against My Home? see more

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

    Q: I own my home outright, so would it be more beneficial to get a loan against my home at a much lower rate, than to go through an aircraft finance company at a considerably higher rate?

    A: While HELOCs can potentially offer rates slightly lower than traditional aircraft financing, going this route ties up equity in your home. Equity that may be needed for inevitable home repairs. Financing through a traditional aircraft loan only uses the aircraft as collateral. This helps keep equity in your home and other assets. Most importantly, however, is that aircraft lenders understand the aircraft purchasing process. They have access to detailed valuation tools and will ensure that the appropriate documents are filed with the FAA. These steps would be entirely on the borrowers’ shoulders when using non-traditional financing. AOPA Aviation Finance’s staff help alleviate the stress of buying an aircraft. In the current rate market these benefits typically outweigh the minor differences one may see with a mortgage rate versus aircraft rates.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on October 7, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    How Much Cash On Hand Do I Really Need? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses how much reserve cash you really need to qualify for an aircraft loan.

    Determining how much cash a potential borrower needs on hand to finance an airplane is not as cut and dried as it is with automobile financing. When it comes to aircraft financing, it’s best to think of aircraft loans as individually tailored transactions, based on a variety of factors that influence cash reserve requirements. 

    Among these factors are: How much money is being borrowed?  How does that figure relate to one’s overall net worth? What is the person’s financial "lifestyle”? How complex is the aircraft? What is the remaining useful life of its engine(s)? And what is the loan-to-value ratio?

    In an ideal transaction, a lender may require only enough cash on hand to satisfy the down payment. In contrast, the lender may ask the borrower to provide evidence of liquidity to cover 24 months of global cash flow. For instance, a business owner wants to purchase an aged, high performance, complex piston twin with freshly overhauled engines. He has personal and business debt for which he’s responsible that totals $10,000 monthly. Depending upon his other financial obligations, the lender might require the business owner to have as much as $240,000 on hand.

    That same business owner might wonder if the liquid assets of the business in which he has a stake can be used to satisfy the cash reserve requirements for the loan. Not without a guarantee from that business. 

    Other similar situations include:

    1. An individual whose liquid assets are held jointly with their spouse, but who is applying for a loan without the spouse. Some lenders might only consider half of those assets.
    2. Assets held in trust where the trust is legally incapable of guaranteeing on a loan will not be considered

    Sometimes determining questions are intertwined. For example, a person buying a turboprop is probably seeking a larger loan than a person looking to finance a single engine, fixed gear piston. In this instance, the size of the loan, the loan-to-value, and the complexity of a turboprop aircraft will indicate a need for greater on hand cash reserves.

    How about a person living in a $120,000 home that's fully paid for versus one living in a five million-dollar home that's fairly-well leveraged, both seeking to buy a ten-year old Cirrus SR/22? What might their individual cash reserve requirements look like? If the homeowner with 100% equity has sporadic income, the lender may require more on hand than the highly-leveraged homeowner who has a predictable, consistent monthly income stream.

    And let’s be clear: “Cash” means liquid assets such as hard currency or marketable securities in your name, or in the name of the borrowers and/or guarantors. In certain situations retirement accounts could be considered liquid as well. “Cash” does not mean Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, furs, Rolex's, collectible cars, baseball cards or other memorabilia.

    All of this may seem pretty daunting. But a conversation with an AOPA Aviation Finance  (AAF) adviser can help inspire confidence. Our assessment of your finances will give you a good understanding of how much in cash reserve a lender might require you to have. If you’re buying an aircraft for the first time, we know you’ve done a lot of research. We fill in the gaps and simplify the nuances. For folks transitioning from a non-pressurized, piston aircraft to a turboprop, AAF can offer clarity over the significantly greater reserve and cash flow requirements of turbine ownership.

    Regardless of the aircraft type, an aircraft with engines closer to overhaul will increase cash requirements compared to an aircraft with freshly overhauled ones.

    A discussion of your debt-to-income ratio will provide a reasonable idea of how much cash on hand a lender will expect you to have initially. If that ratio is on the low side, then the liquidity requirements will most likely be less stringent than those for a person with a higher ratio.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on September 4, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    How Can Borrowing More Cost Less? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, explains the credit matrix when looking for an aircraft loan.

    An AOPA Finance client recently requested a quote for financing a single-engine aircraft. He was looking to finance $70,000, and was quoted what the interest rate would be based on that figure. However, had the client borrowed $75,000 instead of $70,000, the rate would have been a whole percentage point lower, saving him money. Why is that?

    Many borrowers believe the way to get the best interest rate is through a large down payment and a great credit score. But actually the No. 1 factor in determining the interest rate offered on a loan is the amount of money being lent. Lenders structure each loan around a credit matrix. The matrix is comprised--among other things--of ranges of loan amounts, the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, an individual's total financial picture, and least of all, that person's credit score.

    Lenders group loans into "buckets," or ranges of loan amounts. For example, in the case of our client, one range included loan amounts from $50,000 to $74,999. Additionally, each range of loans has a default initial interest rate associated with it.

    In this case, the lender's next higher range had an interest rate one full percentage point lower associated with it. This client had said a top priority of his was to get the lowest possible interest rate. Therefore, we knew if our client had the flexibility to increase his loan by $5,000, it would put him in the higher range, where the default lending rate was better.

    Initially, he saw increasing the loan by $5,000 as beneficial only for the lender. We pointed out that this lender also had a loan structure that allowed for additional prepayments without penalty. If our client was willing to hold back $5,000 of his down payment and increase the loan to $75,000, he could, on Day 2 of the loan, take that held back $5,000 and apply it immediately to the principal. That would get him back to $70,000 on the loan while maintaining the lower interest rate of the $75,000 loan, thus saving him money. That’s one example of how borrowing more can cost less.

    Loan-to-value (LTV) is the second-most important element in constructing the credit matrix. LTV is a financial term used by lenders to express the ratio of a loan to the value of the asset purchased. Generally, an LTV of 80%-85% is deemed an acceptable risk. LTV requirements are most frequently influenced by the aircraft and how quickly it is likely to depreciate. In other words, LTV requirements may be applied on a sliding scale. Generally, the more quickly a plane is likely to depreciate, the more money down or lower an acceptable LTV and vice versa. Additionally, by putting even more money down and thus lowering the LTV you can frequently gain better interest rates and terms.

    The last, and least important, component of the credit matrix is one's credit score. Despite what retail financial institutions and credit reporting agencies pushing credit protection products advertise in the media, credit scores for aircraft loans have only a small influence on how lenders determine a loan's interest rate. The difference between a good credit score and a great credit score might be a mere quarter of a percent. It’s a lousy credit score that will hurt the most. A poor credit score may cost the borrower a full percentage point, or the loan itself.

    Ultimately, obtaining the best loan for you is about providing you the best perspective on all aspects of it. AOPA Finance brokers stand ready to share the kind of knowledge, nuance and expertise that can navigate you to the best loan for your situation.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on May 28, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Will High Time Engines Complicate the Loan Process? see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses finding the "perfect airplane" and the loan process.

    You’ve finally found the perfect airplane. It has no damage history, all of its logs, great avionics, and good interior. The high time engines are the only downside. You’re not worried because the plane is flown often and mechanically is in great shape. When you present it to your lender, though, the lender balks. Why?

    Lenders tend to keep the worst-case scenario in mind. For them, that case is if they might have to repossess the aircraft with it needing an overhaul. To make it marketable again, the lender would have to use their own money for an overhaul. To counter that, most lenders are going to specify you have enough liquidity to cover an overhaul from Day 1.

    Some lenders may require an overhaul as part of the purchase. Others may require a "hold back" amount of money as a precursor to financing. That "hold back" amount must be sufficient to cover overhaul costs upon taking delivery. Because lenders recognize that the likelihood of other expenses popping up at any time with an airplane is high, they may also require an additional cushion of liquidity as a condition of completing the deal. Some lenders will simply bow out of the transaction entirely.

    For many pilots, having to fold an overhaul into the purchase price looks like a pricing discount opportunity. The reality is aviation market appraisers have already figured that into the equation. For example, if two identical aircraft are for sale and one has a fresh overhaul while the other is at TBO, the airplane with the fresh engines will have a market value of at least $30,000 more per engine over the TBO plane. 

    We've had clients who felt their ability to potentially liquidate an asset to cover an overhaul should have had that counted in their favor. Lenders tend to disagree with that assessment for two reasons. First, offering to liquidate an asset against an overhaul changes the global financial picture of the borrower. Keeping in mind that every aspect of one's financial picture is interconnected; it becomes easy to see why changing one part may have a negative domino effect overall.

    Second, where borrowers tend to feel eternally confident about their ability to quickly liquidate any asset they own, lenders are more sanguine about the reality of asset disposal. Financers can draw from plenty of historical precedent where circumstances changed for the worse, and the asset a borrower thought would be easy to sell to cover the unforeseen event fetched far less than expected or didn't sell at all. 

    The flip side of that coin are two specific instances where an airplane owner whose engines are at TBO might easily obtain an overhaul loan. In the case of an aircraft that is free and clear, it’s generally possible to get virtually 100% financing. The second situation is when a loan is still outstanding. If the amount requested--plus the remaining principal--adds up to less than 80% loan-to-value (LTV), a lender will typically refinance. In that case, the owner may not have to go more than 20% out of pocket to pay for the overhaul. 

    Lenders who provide this type of refinancing find it attractive for another reason. Often a pilot will include an avionics or interior upgrade, thus turning a simple engine overhaul into a whole aircraft refurbishment. The one caveat is, at least on the piston side, the relatively small dollar amount of a refinance loan for an overhaul is low, so it's not necessarily attractive to a lot of lenders.

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

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    An Overview of Aircraft Loan Structures see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses how to determine which aircraft loan package is right for you.

    The best way for an AOPA Finance expert to determine the right loan package for its members is to ask them the right questions, starting with, “What’s important to you?”

    Most have the same answer: “The lowest interest rate possible.” From experience, we know they really mean “lowest rate possible for their specific situation”. Three questions help us frame their specific situation:

    1. What have you budgeted for a monthly payment?
    2. How long do you want to own this plane (and keep financing in place)?
    3. How much are you looking to put down?

    How the member answers determines whether a fixed, floating or a hybrid financing structure fits best. Their financial complexity might require us to recommend an asset-based approach.

    A fully amortized, fixed rate loan with the longest possible term might be ideal for somebody intending to own the plane for a decade or more. The risk is the interest rate locked in at the beginning of the term might be higher than the going interest rate at the end. But the trade-off in peace of mind knowing the guaranteed monthly note is compatible with one’s long-term spending plan makes the extra cost worthwhile. For example, for non-commercial use, there are lenders who will execute fully amortizing, fixed-rate loans with 15 or 20-year terms for turboprops still in production.

    When it comes to length of ownership, many of our clients answer, "about ten years.” Data AOPA Finance has collected shows the typical length of ownership is actually no more than five. That's why floating, balloon or adjustable rate (ARM) loan structuring might make more sense.

    A floating rate loan has no fixed interest rate, while an adjustable rate (ARM) loan starts out fixed but then changes (to either a new fixed rate or a floating rate). Following the initial period, an ARM floats, based on a benchmark reference rate like the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB). The initial period is typically three to five years. Another term for an ARM is hybrid. In the current interest rate environment and forecasting into the foreseeable future, these financing packages can offer better savings compared to fixed rates with similar amortizations.

    Balloons are another option; however, the amortization period is longer than the actual loan term. An example might be financing a turboprop on a five-year term with a "balloon" and a 15 to 20-year amortization. That package might work best for members who a.) are looking purely for the lowest rate possible, and b.) know they’re going to own the aircraft (and/or keep the loan) less time than the normal average.

    Balloons allow the borrower to delay paying the principal until the very end, thus keeping the monthly outlay low. At the end of the term, the entire unpaid balance comes due. That small monthly note balloons into one large final payment.

    Sometimes members come to us comfortable with the complex structures of floating or ARM financing, but the complexity of their own finances prohibits them from using those options. Take for example, a real estate entrepreneur who owns 30 different properties. Each property is a separate ownership entity. They have partners on some of these properties and are a majority owner, or half owner or some variation of percentage, across the entire real estate portfolio. Despite the positive cash flow, there are lenders who will not do a deal without them putting a guarantee on all the entities they have equity in, as well as a personal guarantee from themselves. Even if they aren’t restricted by covenants from doing so, the cost in money and time is frequently not worth it. The financial complexity surrounding their business might mandate a simpler, asset-based loan configuration.

    In fact, asset-based deals can be further simplified if the client can increase their down payment. The more you put down up front, the more options lenders have available. A loan on an older airplane or one with higher-time engines becomes doable if the borrower can afford a higher down payment. Whereas a newer plane might be approved with a 15% down, 20-year amortization, the same situation for an older turboprop might go from “no deal” to “deal” with 30% or 40% down. Likewise, a relatively mainstream turboprop that has been produced in significant numbers might normally see a 15-year amortization. Without a larger down payment, older or rarer turboprops might cause lenders to shorten the amortization period, or even refuse to make the loan.

    Jet financing has its own unique requirements which might also necessitate a higher down payment. That’s because the frequency of engine advancements and avionics upgrades as well as new products tend to render those aircraft obsolete faster than others. That’s why asking the right questions of our members allows AOPA Finance to give them the best picture when it comes to securing the best financing package for their unique situation.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on April 12, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    The Airplane Acquisition Checklist Series: Part One: The Pre-Purchase see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares his pre-purchase airplane acquisition checklist.

    Did you resolve to upgrade your current aircraft or to buy your first airplane in 2019? Congratulations!. With low inventory and high demand, how you approach the buying process may be the difference between getting your first-choice or settling for an also-ran.

    Buying an airplane is like flying an airplane. It’s all about planning, crew resource management and checklists. Your “crew” includes your lender, your insurer, your maintenance contractor and AOPA’s Aviation Finance Group. AOPA Finance can match you with the right lender, and our extensive experience can also provide you the additional leverage you may need in a tight market, at no cost to you.

    Like flying, how well you plan, manage your crew and follow your checklists help determine how well the purchase process goes. We’re not talking about pre-flight, flight and post-flight checklists, though. We mean these checklists:

    1. Pre-Purchase
    2. Purchase
    3. Aircraft Delivery

    Let’s start with the Pre-purchase Checklist:

    • Ownership—personally or through a company or LLC?
    • Use—personal or commercial?
    • Loan Pre-approval
    • Escrow
    • Private hangar or shared?
    • Aircraft maintenance contractor

    Ownership. Are you going to own the airplane yourself or through your company? Will you create an LLC, a partnership or some other type of corporate body? Iron out those details first. They guide which lender can pre-approve you and may also influence the length of the pre-approval process. There are advantages and disadvantages to all ownership scenarios.  What’s important to know is that if you decide to change structure at the last minute, it’s a bit like telling your building contractor you want to move a door. At a minimum you know there’s going to be delays in the process and it may completely change the structure.

    We’ve seen too many situations where potential buyers got a loan pre-approval based on one ownership scenario (like a partnership), only for them to change the scenario (like dissolving the partnership). That kind of change will negate the pre-approval process and will force the buyer to start over. It may also necessitate finding a different lender.

    Use—Personal or Commercial? Part 91 transport for you alone, for your company’s employees or leaseback to the local flight school? Decide how you intend to fly your aircraft and commit to it. There is no advantage in telling your prospective lender and insurer it’s for personal use, only to conduct commercial operations once purchased. Should the discrepancy come to light because of an accident, incident or investigation, it could trigger a steep default interest rate, or worse. Transparent communication is the best way to keep this complex transaction simple.

    Now it’s time for:

    Loan Pre-Approval. Getting pre-approved confirms what you can afford and enables you to move quickly on an aircraft, both essential in this seller’s market.

    Some think it’s a waste of time to get pre-approved because the pre-approval is time-limited. True, pre-approval is good for anywhere from 60 to 90 days, depending on the lender. That’s generally enough time to find the right aircraft. But, if the search period does exceed the pre-approval timeframe, it may be possible to extend the pre-approval period.

    Even if the lender won’t extend, re-approval is quicker than an initial pre-approval. So you’re still ahead of the competition.

    While waiting on pre-approval, finish the rest of the checklist:

    Escrow. Have cash ready to put in an escrow account. Escrow gives you an exclusive option on an aircraft within a specific timeframe. When entering escrow, ask for generous restrictions. The more time you can negotiate, the better. It gives your lender, insurer or AOPA Finance space to conduct background checks, damage history and title searches. Also consider keeping extra money in reserve to add to escrow should the seller require an additional incentive.

    Next time: The Purchase and Aircraft Delivery checklist.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on February 21, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Is it possible to prepay my aircraft loan? Adam answers. see more

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

    Question: I have been looking at several Bonanzas, but every time I start negotiations with the seller, they opt for cash buyers. Is there something I can do to get the financing in place before I negotiate the sale?

    Answer: If you have an age range and purchase price in mind, it would be recommended to get pre-approved. The pre-approval will take care of the credit underwriting so that when you find an aircraft you can confidently make an offer. Closing can be completed within a few days upon signing a purchase agreement if a pre-approval is already in place. Approvals are typically valid for 90 days with the rates locked for the first 30 days. 

    If you are ready to get pre-approved, please call us at 800.627.5263 and we can send you an online application to get started.

    Question: Is it possible to prepay my loan?

    Answer: Some lenders do have pre-payment penalties but still allow additional principal payments to be made. Typically, the pre-payment penalty is only for the first 24 months of the loan and runs about 1-1.25% of the original loan balance. Additional principal payments can be made during the time that the pre-payment penalty is in place as long as the payments are within the specific lenders’ guidelines. 

    Don’t feel shy about having aircraft financing questions. It is a complicated process, and asking questions is the first step towards understanding it better. Call us if you ever have questions about the financing process, 800.627.5263.

    Have questions for Adam? He is happy to answer them. Submit your questions here. Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. 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 (75263) or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published in AOPA Finance's August edition of "Adam Answers" on August 22, 2018.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    The five things you need to tell your finance broker to save you money see more

    NAFA member and President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, Adam Meredith, shares what you need to tell your finance broker to save you money.

    Our goal is to save you as much money in interest rate and loan fees as possible. In order to best do that we need answers to the following 5 questions.

    How will you own it?
    Who is going to own the plane? Is it going to be a sole-purpose limited liability company you establish? That information is needed in advance to correctly fill out the loan documentation.  
    Are you going to have multiple co-owners? Some lenders won’t even deal with an aircraft that has multiple partners, others limit how many partners they’ll accept. We don’t want to waste our time or yours by contacting lenders who could be eliminated in advance.

    How will you use it?
    If the aircraft is going to be used to generate revenue, there are specialized lenders that prefer these types of loans and are more willing to lend money. Revenue generating aircraft are often referred to as “essential use” aircraft. Some of these include aircraft used in charter operations, helicopter tours, pipeline patrol, and parachute jumping. In general, if your plans entail essential use on your aircraft, there may be fewer lenders willing to give you a loan. Tell us right away if that is what you intend. Likewise, if you want to use the aircraft for flight training, in a Flying Club or on leaseback, these all also fall into the “essential-use” category and thus require specialized options.

    How long will you keep it?
    How long do you plan to keep it? Most of our customers have their aircraft less than 4-5 years. If that is your intent, you may want to consider an adjustable-rate loan or vs. a fixed-rate loan. An adjustable rate loan can save you money. Here’s an example: let’s say you want a $500,000 loan. If you went with an adjustable-rate loan (fixed for the first five years, then adjusting annually) you could save nearly $14,000 in interest over the course of those five years compared to a 20-year fixed-rate loan.

    Any past problems?
    Tell us up front if there have been any past credit issues. Were there past disputes or bankruptcies? Insurance companies using heavy-handed tactics? Don’t just hope it won’t be uncovered during the course of the loan application, because it will eventually be uncovered. You’re far better off having the discussion of any past problems at the start of the application process rather than explaining after the fact.

    How do you make your money?
    We need to be able to explain to a lender what your cash flow looks like. The end-of-year results may be good, but did the cash come in lumps? Is it dependent on the seasons, or whenever you happen to buy and sell a company? Do you get paid a commission only when you make a sale? Do you plan to retire? Many of our members are small-business owners who may have irregular cash flow but high annual income. It’s helpful if we know in advance so we can make the best possible case to a lender.

    Considering aircraft ownership? AOPA Aviation Finance will make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit www.aopafinance.com or call 1-800-62-PLANE (75263).

    This article was originally published in AOPA Finance on August 1, 2018.