One of the challenges of representing buyers, whether it is a Super Cub, King Air or Phenom is knowing where to start the opening shot: The offer.
How do you proffer a number to an aircraft seller that shows the seller multiple things? For example, your contact and methods demonstrate:
Your math accounts for outliers such as super low or high airframe total time, damage history, missing logs or a run out engine. (And when these are great.)
An offer that is serious (i.e. committed / real buyer) and likely to close.
A number that is fair and close to what other transactions are valued at for the same make, model and age aircraft. (And how to find hidden gems here.)
Adequate respect and mindfulness on how you handle the seller’s conditions or needs. (A smooth sale has as much to do with emotional self awareness, as it does the spreadsheet of how you structured the offer.)
Some new or aspiring pilots know what they want: Big tires, a tailwheel and being “off airport” just as much as “on airport.” What do you seek? The cookie cutter flight school program? Or do you value critical skills early on?
It wasn’t too long ago that we all learned to fly a tail dragger in a field somewhere near a bigger airport. Most also turned out to be really good pilots for the simple reason that they had to use their feet (i.e. rudder) and an intuitive connection and approach to much of their flying. Just ask Sully.
One of the pleasures of being a flight instructor, consultant and occasional contract pilot is that I get to spend a lot of time around pilots keen to buy a taildragger, turboprop and occasionally a jet. Even existing aircraft owners express a desire to upgrade, re-evaluate, or simply sell their existing aircraft for something else.
Yet, in the general aviation world, there’s a frequent recurrence of casualness around aircraft acquisition that can lead to wasted time, effort, and money etc. never mind the frayed emotions and harumphing. In the turbine world, it leads to lawsuits and varsity level harumphing.
Three questions to help think about avoiding such pain:
How do I make an offer on an airplane that I can’t even see in person?
What is a reasonable sequence of events from first contact to closing?
How do I make an offer that is fair, but not insult the Seller if the asking price appears way over market?