When is the Best Time to Sell Your Jet?

If you’re planning to offer your business jet for sale, how should you time the presentation of your aircraft to market to maintain control of the process, realize a successful outcome and minimize expenditures? What steps can you take to line-up a buyer in the right place at the right time? Jet Tolbert discusses…

Most owners make the decision to sell their current aircraft based on the expectation of a future event, whether that is the delivery of a new aircraft, end of a lease, sale of a company, etc. What we often find is that the event driving the decision has a specific date for closing, and this date is also the desired date for the sale of the current aircraft.

Even with the desired date looming large, not all owners plan ahead effectively by marketing their aircraft several months in advance. A significant portion of Sellers wait until the last minute, only to find themselves behind the curve in a changing market, thereby losing value and opportunity.

Time Requirements of the Transaction Process

Failure to begin the marketing process well in advance can lead to a Seller feeling financially pressured to accept a lowball offer instead of enjoying the luxury of time to realize full value – a costly mistake! Following are just some of the time considerations of the aircraft transaction process…

  • A thorough marketing plan can require up to four weeks to implement, and that is just the beginning…
  • An offer can take anywhere from a week to a month to negotiate, and is followed by contract negotiation which usually takes one to two weeks.
  • The buyer’s inspection will require some lead time (usually a week or two), plus the time to perform the inspection (around one to three weeks) depending on the size of the aircraft.
  • After the buyer’s inspection there will likely be a discrepancy list to be negotiated as a part of the aircraft acceptance. Most sales contracts allow three-to-five business days for a decision to accept the aircraft subject to the correction of identified discrepancies. (If the aircraft is rejected then the process will have to start over again with a new buyer, or a deal to close ‘as-is’ in 3-5 days could potentially be made.)
  • In most cases the Seller will have to correct any discrepancies which could take a few weeks. Only at that point can the clock begin ticking for a closing within three-to-five business days!

When representing either the Buyer or the Seller a qualified broker will strive to complete the transaction in as timely a manner as possible, but even then the whole process usually requires three months from the time the aircraft is brought to market until closing if the Seller is adequately educated about the market and prepared to accept a correct market price for their aircraft from the onset.

With changing market conditions that are correlated to economic and geopolitical influences – and some aircraft models selling slowly – just waiting to receive a legitimate offer to begin the above process could take significant time!

What to Expect from Buyers

Will there be offers that come in for the aircraft that request an immediate delivery? Yes there will, but with today’s market being ostensibly slanted heavily towards the Buyer, many offers will come in that are unrealistic. Giving yourself a few months to complete the process will allow you opportunity to work a Buyer’s expectations up to a realistic price for the aircraft while simultaneously generating the right level of interest required to achieve a sale on (or very close to) the desired delivery date.

While it is the role of your broker to provide the crucial relationship management to bring both sides together in a transaction, when you bring the aircraft to market well ahead of the desired delivery date you place many benefits within your control.

In Summary

Today’s market is very fickle. We’re all aware of how saturated it is and the potential impact that adding another aircraft could make. However, an aircraft ‘For Sale’ with a future delivery date cannot impact the fleet percentages ‘For Sale’ since it is not immediately available to buy.

As the Seller, the benefits of being well prepared for aircraft succession planning with a well thought-out marketing approach that takes into consideration current market conditions and allows time to complete a transaction will always yield the result you’ll be happiest with.

Jet Tolbert
Jet Tolbert

Jet Tolbert is president of Florida-based American Aircraft Sales where he oversees all aspects of aircraft sales and acquisitions, marketing, business development and market research. He has been working in the industry since joining the family business at the age of 17, learning every facet of the company’s services in Business Aviation. Mr Tolbert is also an instrument-rated pilot. AAS has leveraged its global network to execute corporate aircraft sales globally since 1968. More information from: www.americanaircraftsales.com

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