by Ronald L. Herold
In the humble opinion of this aircraft appraiser, the airplane market may have peaked and may even have started down a little bit. While it will take one or two quarters for the data services to recognize this, let me present what I see and why I think this is the case.
First, brokers who used to have trouble finding products for buyers now have more trouble finding buyers for products. Those buyers who have wanted to upgrade or add aircraft to their fleet have already done so. Demand has met supply and that means that aircraft prices will go down with more supply than demand (basic economics).
Second, Buyers who used to skip pre-buy inspections (a very bad idea and not recommended by this appraiser) are now, once again, requiring them. Along with that, financing is once again the way that more aircraft are being purchased. For the past few years, cash purchases without financing have been the norm. That means that appraisals have not been required (although always recommended). Now there is an uptick in appraisals for bank financing.
Third, the nay-sayers on Facebook have stopped with the ‘oh my G_d that aircraft can’t be worth that amount.’ Now, I am not saying that these nay-sayers know the market, but like supply/demand when they decrease and the prices asked are routinely accepted, we are on the cusp of a peak market.
Fourth, there are fewer products available on Facebook and on other sites like Controller. While I haven’t counted the number of available aircraft on either site, I follow what is out there and can certainly tell you that the numbers are down. How much? I haven’t counted, but I can tell you it’s significant.
Fifth, fuel is impacting sales. While car gas has started to recede in price (who knows how long or if that is permanent), aviation fuel will be slow to follow. I am flying to the Chicago area tomorrow and had a fuel stop planned where the price of gas was $5.65. I called yesterday to confirm the fuel price and availability only to learn that today they are getting a new load of fuel and the new price tomorrow when I refuel, will be $5.91 (bummer!). It’s still a decent price in this market (wish it was more like $4.00), but it’s indicative of what we all know about aviation fuel – fast to go up and really slow to come down. The cost of aviation fuel is definitely impacting the price of aircraft. One would expect this to be really true for the light twins (Baron, Aztec, etc.) but I don’t see these aircraft being additionally impacted as they already were handicapped in the market. I am seeing the impact in the singles market. My observations even show the LSA (Light-Sport Aircraft) market to have taken a hit, which is unexpected given the small engines and low fuel consumption in this class.
So – what does this mean for buyers and sellers? If you are a buyer and can wait to make your purchase, I think, from a capital outlay position, you will benefit. You can be more selective in what you choose but at the same time, the choice may be more limited. If you are a seller, you are going to find less demand than in the immediate past and probably some price haggling and inspection and appraisal requirements. Be careful not to chase the market down by constantly keeping your price above the market value and then reducing the price to where it should have been only to find it lower again.
Finally, I would recommend an appraisal be obtained regardless of whether you are a buyer or a seller. For a seller, a recent appraisal supports the asking price and can serve as a valid marketing tool. For a buyer, it provides confidence in the market and the value you are receiving for your money.
Jeremy Cox, Founder, and Owner of JetValues-Jeremy, a professional aircraft appraisals company, has spent more than 20 years appraising aircraft. He filed his first appraisal report in 1999, and in the years that ensued, has appraised a vast array of aircraft makes models and types.
Jeremy received his initial accreditation as an appraiser in September of 2014 while working for a leading pre-owned business aircraft brokerage firm, having joined the National Aircraft Appraiser’s Association and spending a week in classroom-based training. In 2018 and 2019, he was accepted into the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) Aircraft Valuation Program, and in 2019 he started JetValues-Jeremy LLC.
His line of work exposes him to just about all aspects of aviation and aerospace – and not all of it confined within Earth’s atmosphere. Last year Jeremy won the contract to appraise a spacecraft, traveling to Cape Canaveral to perform an on-site inspection.
Ronald L. Herold, Ph.D., NSCA, MEII
Senior Certified Aircraft Appraiser
Airplane-Appraiser.com specializes in appraising Piston and Small Turbo-Prop aircraft as well as ‘off-book’ aircraft. Off-Book aircraft are aircraft that are not currently in or never were in production. Airplane-Appraiser.com is one of the few aircraft appraisers that will address your ‘one of a kind’ aircraft – or your ‘one of twenty-five left’ aircraft or your World War II restoration when you feel it is the correct time to donate the aircraft. Their appraisals are used in the normal course of buying and selling aircraft as well as in support (and in compliance with IRS regulations) for the DONATION of aircraft and your subsequent tax deduction. Airplane-Appraiser.com will support you and your accountant by signing your tax return, after completion of an appropriate appraisal, in support of your aircraft donation. For more information visit www.airplane-appraiser.com