Thinking about selling your aircraft on your own? It’s not uncommon for aircraft owners to post their own plane for sale, intending to test the market and see what happens.
Sometimes, things work out nicely and a quick sale occurs, but it’s also not uncommon for those same aircraft owners to become frustrated with the selling process.
With over a decade of experience helping hundreds of sellers through the process, we have identified a few of the most common misconceptions aircraft owners have about selling their own plane.
Misconception #1: “I’ll save money if I sell it on my own.”
Most of the time, sellers choose the “For Sale By Owner (FSBO)” route because they’re hoping to net more money by saving on a potential brokerage fee. However, we consistently see FSBO sellers who could have walked away with more money in their pocket had they only hired the right aircraft sales team.
A good aircraft sales team can add a tremendous amount of value to your transaction—from pricing the plane just right given the current market, to negotiating on the seller’s behalf, to presenting the plane in a way that attracts more serious buyers. We have often helped sellers net several thousand dollars more—after paying our brokerage fee—than they were originally hoping to net when they were trying to sell on their own, much to their surprise (and delight).
Another thing to consider: most aircraft owners are fairly successful at what they do every day. If you put a reasonable price tag on your own time, why not hire a professional to do the legwork, market your plane more effectively, handle all the details, and keep your schedule free so you can put your time towards the things that make you the most money every day?
Misconception #2: “Since I sold my plane before, I can do it again.”
The aircraft market is constantly changing, and people buy differently now than they did even a few years ago. Just because you sold a plane previously doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed the same experience the next time around. We have worked with dozens of individuals who told us they had ALWAYS sold their own planes in the past and finally gave up when they weren’t getting the offers that they expected from their past experience.
It’s our job to stay on the leading edge of market changes and buyer trends. People research aircraft differently now than they did in the past, and we know what it takes to convert pageviews into serious prospects.
Misconception #3: “I’ve got a $100 ad up online. This will get my plane in front of any buyer who is seriously looking for a plane like mine.”
We hear this misconception a lot. Sellers often think that their $100 online ad will successfully get their aircraft in front of all the serious buyers who are looking for their make/model aircraft. True, that ad may generate a few calls, but one ad won’t attract nearly as many buyers as a professional aircraft sales team will generate by launching a comprehensive, strategic marketing campaign for your aircraft.
Most of the time, we will generate more serious inquiries within the first week than the seller generated in the first few months with their FSBO ad.
Misconception #4: “I have no problem talking to buyers.”
This misconception leads to one of the biggest mistakes sellers make when selling their own plane.
Answering the incoming phone call is easy; but it’s the follow up after that initial call that makes all the difference. Are you really prepared from an expertise and time availability standpoint to educate buyers, follow up actively with them, and help them put all the pieces in place (escrow, insurance, financing, etc.) so they can buy your aircraft?
Consider the following sales statistics: only 10% of sales are made in the first three contacts, and 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact. If you don’t have the time to follow up 5-12 times with each buyer who inquires on your aircraft, we can guarantee you will leave significant opportunity on the table. Our sales team has perfected a process for actively following up with buyers and helping them move forward successfully to purchase your aircraft.
If you don’t have the time to follow up 5-12 times with each buyer who inquires on your aircraft, we can guarantee you will leave significant opportunity on the table.
Misconception #5: “People would rather buy from the owner than a broker.”
A lot of sellers feel that buyers would rather talk to the guy who owns the plane than a “middleman.” However, most serious buyers prefer a smooth process that is clearly mapped out for them, and they really enjoy having a team of professionals available to assist them throughout the process.
Many buyers aren’t even certain what type of plane they really want to buy, so discussing their needs with a professional who knows about a variety of aircraft can help them solidify their needs so they can move forward. Buyers usually feel more comfortable presenting their offer to a third party than they would directly to the aircraft owner (it’s our job to keep negotiations from getting emotional, even when the buyer and seller are “too far apart”). Additionally, about a third of all buyer prospects we talk to are also interested in selling or trading in their own aircraft in order to purchase another plane. Overall, we find that most buyers really value the help we can provide throughout their aircraft purchase process.
Misconception #6: “I ran a vref, so I know the value of my plane.”
While aircraft book values are good benchmarks, they’re definitely NOT the “absolute truth” when it comes to aircraft market values. Because book values are generated based on limited amounts of data, we often see wide discrepancies between book values and true market values.
Here’s where a lot of sellers lose big when they go to sell their plane. If you aren’t regularly involved in pricing aircraft, talking to buyers, and actively tracking the aircraft markets, you can easily price your plane too high or too low and end up missing out on good offers or leaving money on the table.
Misconception #7: “I’m not in a rush to sell.”
Sellers often think that it’s in their best interest to take their time and wait for the perfect offer for their aircraft. But we find that the opposite is usually true. To maximize your opportunity when you sell, a better strategy involves aggressively marketing to the pool of buyers who have been actively looking for a plane like yours and getting them motivated to make an early move.
The longer the plane sits, the harder it is to maximize your sale price. Buyers who see that your plane has sat on the market for some time are less motivated to make the same offer they would make on a plane that is new to the market. In fact, buyers will use “time on the market” against your aircraft when it comes to offers and negotiations.
Unless you’re offering your plane at a price that is well-below the current market, asking a buyer to make you an offer with limited information is like expecting someone to propose at the end of a first date.
Misconception #8. If you have a buyer, bring me an offer.
We often talk to owners who tell us they’re open to us bringing them an offer if we know of the right buyer for their plane. Here’s where the misconception occurs: in order to find the right buyer for your plane and get them excited about making their best offer, we need to be fully equipped to promote your plane and educate buyers.
We can bring you a MUCH better offer (or offers!) if we have a chance to preview the plane in person, review and document it thoroughly, and represent your plane on your behalf with good photos, full specification information, and complete logbooks. Unless you’re offering your plane at a price that is well-below the current market, asking a buyer to make you an offer with limited information is like expecting someone to propose at the end of a first date.