10:35 PM


Back in a generation long, long ago, there was a song about fleeting summer love, where a young man is singing “See you...in Sep-TEM-berrr”, and that song comes to mind today as I think about the reason there are so many GA planes sitting on the market. Read on to connect the dots...

As my regular readers know, I am very, very close to buying a new (to me) Piper Cherokee 235 for my aviation ad agency business and family fun. That explains those long nights with my head buried in Trade-a-Plane, or surfing across sites like Controller and Aircraft Shopper Online.

I have been "in the hunt" for a 235 for about 60 days now, and am still coming up short for the right bird with the right stuff in the panel at the right price. But I still have plenty of time to shop, and when it's time to pull the trigger and snag the flying machine, one will manifest itself for me.

And along the way, I have discovered something worthy of ponder:

About six weeks ago, I located a cherry '64 235 in Los Angeles. It was pretty close to exactly what I need, but the price said “call”, so I did. The plane was in the $70,000 ball park, at that time out of my reach. I got a call from the dealer a couple of days later telling me the owner had slashed the price to close to $60,000 because he wanted it off the market. I again explained that I was thinking about September '07 for the buy. The dealer told me – as dealers often do – that at the reduced price, this plane will sell in days, so I'd better “jump on it” quickly. So this week I get a call from the same dealer telling me the plane is still sitting on a very stagnant market and the owner is willing to hear any offer.
This exchange confirmed something that ought to be very good for buyers like me in summer of 2007. It seems that all over the country, GA piston singles and twins under $100,000 are sitting on the market for weeks. TAP has had the same boring list of 235s for the last month...nothing is selling, period. The exception to this are the museum-quality versions of the 235, like the one that was listed for a month in NorCal for $89,000 and is presumed to have sold because it is no longer listed anywhere.

Moral of this story can be summed up in two words...user fees. I am guessing that airplane buyers are just lying low this summer, waiting out the FAA to see what their final funding re-authorization scheme boils down to when announced this coming September. There are loads of nice planes sitting idle, their “For Sale” banners flapping aimlessly in the wind:
This spells disaster for anyone wanting to pawn off their bird this summer, but is a gift for guys like me who will be seriously shopping with cash in fist in about 70 days. The key to this will be timing...jump in just days before the FAA announces no user fees or tax increase, at a time when sellers will have grown completely impatient and will look at any number. Some will have had their eye on an airplane upgrade, and will be chomping at the bit to make that buy. All that will stand in the way is that 235 sitting out at the airport, the one they've had for sale all summer without one single offer.
I've wheeled and dealed in the car and motorcycle markets all my adult life, and I know this: In the used airplane market and especially in a stale, down market, cash barks loudest. So it should not come as a surprise to anyone when you hear the two words I'll be using to negotiate this 235 buy to my clear advantage:

Make. Offer.

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