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Putting a Buyer’s Agent in Your Corner

The Objective

This document is intended to provide a detailed description of the Buyer’s Agent Service provided by Plane Data, Inc., describe how they are different than traditional methods of purchasing aircraft, and answer common questions about the services.

The Problem

Most aircraft buyers tend to have a sense of what aircraft best fits their needs/wants and their budget.

However, once the search is truly underway, aircraft buyers tend to make similar mistakes in the purchase process that cost them in both time and money.

Losses occur at the time of purchase, during ownership and throughout the search itself.

These mistakes occur because buyers tend to make decisions based on erroneous information, their emotions, and a flawed process that leads them to a financially disadvantaged decision.

Imagine for a moment that as an aircraft buyer you had creditable, reliable details about candidate aircraft being sold along with a trusted resource that provided an unbiased analysis and perspective.

When negotiating the purchase, you had more information than the owner/broker/dealer selling the aircraft and you were confident in the decisions you were making because those decisions were based on factual data and analysis.

Wouldn’t a service such as this have value and make more sense than relying on critical information from individuals who have a vested financial interest in the transaction or well-meaning individuals who had no background, training or experience in analyzing market data or appraising aircraft?

Over the next several pages, I will explain to you how the Buyer’s Agent service has saved many clients time, money, and headaches throughout the entire purchasing process

Using the services of a Buyer’s Agent such as Plane Data, Inc. can be one of the most cost effective and common sense solutions when researching, selecting and purchasing your first or next aircraft – piston or turbine.

The Solution

The typical aircraft buyer simply does not have the time, experience and data to perform a complete and detailed analysis of candidate aircraft before going into the field.

The typical aircraft buyer simply does not have the time, experience and data to perform a complete and detailed analysis of candidate aircraft before going into the field.

The Buyer’s Agent Service

Plane Data, Inc. has developed a set of services that benefits both the experienced and first time aircraft buyer by providing unbiased information about candidate aircraft coupled with creditable, reliable market information that is founded on actual sales data.

In other words, the intelligence provided to the client is information that the aircraft buyer would not have otherwise and details that no one else has ANY incentive to discuss because of their relationship to the aircraft or the deal. 

The result is that clients make more informed decisions based on field research and first hand observations of the subject aircraft.

 How is this service different from other “buyer’s agents”?

The “buyer’s agent” industry is unregulated so anyone could technically be a “buyer’s agent” without any training or any background in aviation.

Many individuals are actually brokers whose fees are based on the selling price of the aircraft which is a key difference. 

After all, how can the analysis of someone be completely trusted if they have a financial stake in the outcome of the deal?

The question will come up in any analysis of whether or not it suits the broker’s financial interests or the client’s interest. The broker may even be pushing a particular aircraft for self-serving reasons. In addition, brokers acting as “agents” can represent both the seller AND the buyer and there is no requirement to disclose this information whatsoever.

The Buyer’s Agent Service from Plane Data, Inc. makes use of appraisal methodology from the National Aircraft Appraisers Association (NAAA*), along with related market data to provide clients with an analysis of candidate aircraft based on years of aircraft appraisal experience for hundreds of clients.

All field visits result in a report that provides a comprehensive analysis of the subject aircraft. As a result, clients generally know more about the subject aircraft before making their field visit than the owner.

No commissions are paid to Plane Data, Inc. as all pricing is “flat fee” and based on the type of aircraft under consideration (piston single, piston twin, etc.) and the specific services requested.

Clients are also assured that they and ONLY they are represented in all aspects of the transaction. No other “finder’s fees” or commissions are accepted in the purchase of ANY aircraft.

Where does your market data come from and how is it different?

Unlike publications which simply publish whatever information is provided to them, the NAAA* developed their own proprietary database over 30 years ago for the expressed purpose of appraising aircraft.

While the sources of the data are confidential (as it is with any value resource), the data utilizes details and information obtained from field visits along with trusted resources to obtain reliable sales information. The NAAA* database currently supports thousands of years/makes/models of aircraft and is updated on a monthly basis (versus quarterly for publications). Only NAAA* members have access to this data. 

Where do you find candidate aircraft?

One of the most challenging parts of this service is finding, evaluating and recommending suitable candidate aircraft.

Looking through advertisements is one part of the process to be sure as these aircraft cannot be ignored but generally the advertised aircraft are overpriced for what they are in the current market and the advertised aircraft represent only a fraction of all aircraft for sale. Finding OTHER candidate aircraft (versus relying on those that are advertised) is part of the service provided by Plane Data, Inc. and a more thorough search provides clients with better and more cost effective options.

Qualifying candidate aircraft is another aspect of the process. Advertisements are one thing and reality can be very different. Researching candidate aircraft to include or exclude in the discussion with clients is also a key part of the process.

What services and capabilities are included?

The full set of services as a Buyer’s Agent includes:

  • Unlimited consultation time.
  • The initial search of suitable aircraft and development of the list of candidate aircraft.
  • All evaluations and appraisal reports for candidate aircraft.
  • Negotiation of the Purchase Agreement
  • Finding a suitable mechanic for the inspection phase.
  • Document preparation (as needed) for Closing

Other services that are available for an additional fee include:

  • On-site representation of the buyer during the inspection phase.
  • Finding suitable pilots for test flights and delivery of the aircraft.
  • Aircraft Logistics

Items not included as part fo the inital fee:

  • Travel expenses (quoted beforehand and billed at cost)
  • Taxes
  • Pre-buy inspection
  • Escrow Fees

Pricing

Pricing for this service is quoted on request as each project is different and based on the type of aircraft under consideration.

Furthermore, the services requested by clients vary.

As an example, some clients find candidate aircraft and then request the appraisal services in addition to contract negotiation and representing the buyer at Closing. 

Other clients feel they need all services in order to save time and money.

Is This Service Right for Me?

Each purchase is different and needs to be analyzed based on its own merits.

However, you should think about how much time and money will be required on your part to find an aircraft, consider your level of expertise in researching both candidate aircraft and the current market, your comfort level with all paperwork related to the aircraft’s maintenance along with its airframe and engine mods.

You will also need to consider the cost associated with making an ill-informed purchase decision because the source information was biased or faulty.

It is common for buyers to become financially fixated on a specific aircraft or too emotionally involved such that they cannot disengage when it makes logical and financial sense to do so.

For some, that price point is lower than for others.

Questions You Should Ask

When evaluating other options there are questions you should be asking. 

The more important ones include:

Will you get a report summarizing the results of the onsite examination of the aircraft and its records? You should and if you do not, you should be asking “why?”.

If you hire someone to find candidate aircraft for you, the search will most likely be limited to those listed for sale and it is EXTREMELY rare that they will leave the office and go into the field.

Find out if they will physically research the subject aircraft along with its records and provide you with a signed report that identifies the market value along with any issues found. 

How is the agent paid? If they are paid a commission based on the selling price of the aircraft, then their impartially has to be questioned along with all the information that they provide.

Individuals who receive a commission may be well meaning individuals but their objective is to sell the aircraft for as much as they can get.

They have NO incentive to discuss the aircraft’s market value and no incentive to highlight any problems with the aircraft itself that may impact its value or the deal itself. 

Make no mistake. This is a “buyer beware” situation.

Will they represent ME and ONLY ME?

Brokers (and brokers acting as “agents”) can represent both the buyer and the seller of the aircraft. They are under no obligation to disclose this information to either party.

This means that you could be paying for commissions on both ends of the transaction or the broker may be pushing a specific aircraft instead of focusing on your specific requirements.

Brokers and other “agents” do not charge anything up front. Why does Plane Data, Inc.?

There are two basic reasons that some brokers and “agents” do not charge fees up front.

The first is that they are working on commission and cannot receive payment until the selling price of the aircraft is negotiated and the deal concludes.

The other reason is that they do very little work up front and do little more than point to aircraft listed for sale – which anyone could find on their own. The related analysis is extremely thin.

On the other hand, the services provided by Plane Data, Inc. involve an up-front intensive search along with an analysis of true candidates before the first field visit. 

As a result, the up-front efforts pay off with better and more rational decisions later in the process.

Think the Buyer's Agent Service is right for you?

Reach out to discuss your specific needs and get a quote.

*The National Aircraft Appraisers Association (NAAA) ceased operation on 12/31/18. The Professional Aircraft Appraisal Organization, LLC (PAAO) was established in December 2018 to provide certification and professional development for aircraft appraisers. More information about the PAAO be found on their website at www.appraiseaplane.org.