Buyers Guide
If you have never bought an aircraft before it can be a little hard to do without someone to advise you. And
even if you are an experienced buyer this guide will tell you how our owners will be expecting you to 
handle the sale. We have given our owners a similar guide to follow and you will find that most will do so.
Although it is just a suggested method so ultimately both you and the owner will decide how the sale will
proceed. Ok, lets get to it.

Target Acquisition
When a client contracts with us to find an aircraft the first question we ask is "What is your budget?"
Many think this is some sort of salesman thing. It's not. It's a reality check. Knowing your budget will
quickly tell us want types of aircraft are going to be available to you. If you want to spend no more than 
$40k it's not going to make much sense to go out and look at a 421C. The next question is "What type
of flight experience do you have?" Again, a student in a 421C is not going to go over well with your 
insurance agent! So try to answer those two questions first. Also keep the operational costs in mind.
It's possible to find an older more complex aircraft that's in your purchase budget but is too expensive
for you to operate. Now is also a good time to put in a call to an insurance agent. You need to find out 
about how much it will cost for the type and price of aircraft you are considering. This information may 
cause you to change to another type aircraft if the cost is to high. For more info on this subject go to
our insurance section. Once you have a budget and type of aircraft in mind you need to decide exactly
what model aircraft to pursue. The budget will tell you what years to look for. Be sure to take into 
account what type of avionics, paint, interior and engine time you will want. It can drastically change the
year and model you choose. The point here is be realistic about the money and try to narrow your search
to the model and year. Talk to owners. Try to get a demo. Go to the owners association sites and read 
up on the type. Get this decision out of the way before you start wasting time and money flying all over
the country looking at aircraft. Focus focus focus!

Money Money Money
If I had a dollar for every buyer I've seen miss that perfect aircraft because they did not make prior 
arrangements for the money I would eat lobster every night! One of the reasons we offer financing is to
get our clients approved and ready to pounce when we find the aircraft. All lenders will give you a 
pre-approval that's good for many months. This gives you the ability to move fast and lets you know for
sure what kind of lending limit you will have. Most lenders will want to see good credit, a couple years
in your chosen profession and no more than 40% debt to income ratios. Get pre-approved. If you are
going to use another source of money like stocks or a money market account find out in advance how
long it will take to liquidate the account. Now you're ready to search!

The Search Is On
The fact that you are reading this means you have already found the best place to find your aircraft! One
of hardest things about looking for an aircraft is getting a lot of good, accurate info and photos. We find it 
very difficult to get enough info to make a decision about a particular aircraft. What you need from the 
owner is the type of info we offer here. The price, lots of high quality photos, an accurate and complete 
spec sheet and the logs. I can tell you nobody else will supply you with all the logs like we do so don't 
expect it. Try to make sure you are dealing with the owner or his exclusive representative. Some aircraft
will be advertised by more than one dealer. If you cant get comfortable with who's really in charge move
on. It's not worth it. You are dealing with a great deal of money here. Don't take any chances. We have
seen some very smart people loose large deposits and waste money on prebuys. So you found it.
Now what?

Deposit Or Not
At this point we need to stop and talk about deposits. We don't like to give or even get deposits. I 
don't like putting my money at risk just to look at someone's aircraft. When I'm buying all I want is a 
gentlemen's agreement that if I do a prebuy and decide to come get the aircraft that they will hold it for
a reasonable number of days for me to get there and pay them. The risk is they might sell the aircraft
out from under me after I have spent money on the prebuy. If they sell the aircraft before I can start the
prebuy that's fine and I'll just go find another aircraft. So if they tell you they will hold it after the prebuy
but don't, and sell it, then they would have done the same thing if you had sent them a deposit. The 
benefit, holding the aircraft, is small compared to the risk, loosing a large deposit. So I don't like to do it.
But, some owners will insist on you putting up a deposit before they will even let you do a prebuy 
because they may have been burned in the past by a buyer that held them up for a long time without
really being ready and able to complete the sale. When that happens if you still want to pursue the
aircraft make sure you put the deposit in an escrow account at a well known aircraft title company with
an agreement that allows you to recover your money any time you want. The owner will be happy
knowing you are serious and you will not have to worry about getting your deposit back. If the owner
insists on you sending it directly to them, run! All right. Lets get a prebuy.

Prebuy Time
Well congratulations! You found an aircraft! You're halfway home. Right? Wrong! Now the real work
starts. So you have found this aircraft and it's many miles away. How do you handle that? Well you can
get on a plane and go look or you can have a prebuy done first. This is a personal decision. But what we
do here is talk to the owners mechanic about the aircraft first. I have found most are very honest about
the mechanical condition of the aircraft. As far as the cosmetics they are not as good with this info. But
you have 75 high quality photos right? Well you do if it's one of our aircraft! After talking to the mechanic
and reviewing all the info I make a decision to start the prebuy. Normally you will not use the owners 
mechanic. So you will need to get the names of some shops in the area that are qualified on the type.
Or you may want to send your own mechanic to the do the prebuy. I can tell you most guys will not want
to do that. They are usually too busy to leave their shop for a few days just to do a prebuy. And it's not 
really necessary because you should be able to find a qualified shop to do it for you. Once you pick a 
mechanic you will need to agree on what they are going to do. If you have a local mechanic you may get
them to call the shop to discuss how the prebuy will be done. If not you can get a recommended prebuy
guide from the appropriate aircraft owners association. Most shops will know what to do anyway and 
wont really need a form but you need to know exactly what they are going to do and how much the
inspection will cost you. If you cant find a prebuy guide to follow you will need to make sure the shop 
at least checks the following items. Have them verify that all the logs are there, that the times match the
spec sheet and any damage history entries. Check for all the required docs like the airworthiness 
certificate, current weight and balance, 337 forms and all the manuals. Check for AD compliance. You 
can try to check service bulletins but most owners don't do them and most shops can't check them 
because they don't keep a current list. So if you have a specific bulletin you want to check you better
get it for them. Do a compression check with the proper size gauge for the cylinders. There are now two
different size compression gauges for this task. One for cylinders under a 5 inch bore and one for the 
cylinders with more than a 5 inch bore. It makes a difference so try to make sure you know which gauge 
they use. This is a fairly new change and many shops are still not aware of it. So don't be surprised if 
they look at you funny when you ask the question. If it's a retract, swing the gear. Look for corrosion. 
Most aircraft will have a little so don't freak out if they find some but more than a little can be a problem.
Look for hail or evidence of filled hail dings. If the fuel tanks are not full you can't be sure they don't leak 
so fill them up. Check the airframe for evidence of damage repairs. Some are very noticeable but some 
are impossible to spot so the inspection is no guaranty it has never been damaged. About all you can do
is check the logs, 337 forms, NTSB/FAA sites and look at the airframe for damage history. If you can't 
find anything it probably has not been damaged but keep in mind it's still a possibility that it happened in 
the past and the current owner really didn't know about it. It happens, but remember, it's a used aircraft,
so no guaranties. The rest of the inspection should be a good general search for squawks. The radios
and autopilot are usually not checked by the shop so you can check them during the demo flight. Again
this list is no replacement for a type specific list from a reliable source but it should work in a pinch.
Some owners will offer to do a fresh annual for you to serve as a prebuy. Don't do it! You need a prebuy.
Not an annual. They are different inspections. You can have lost logs, bad cosmetics, wrong times, 
damage history and squawks after a fresh annual. None of those things are mandatory to complete an 
annual. Some dishonest owners may try to slip one by you with this annual offer. Pass on that offer 
and do your own prebuy. A properly done prebuy will catch all those things. Plus it's cheaper to do 
the prebuy. The annual involves many items that are just not due at this point. Like packing wheel
bearings, oil changes, etc.. Plus you are paying for this inspection so if after doing most of the annual
they find a deal killer item you are going to be responsible for payment to finish the inspection on an 
aircraft that you aren't going to buy for an annual it didn't need!. The aircraft will be held hostage by the
shop till it receives payment too. Not good. Stick with the prebuy. Now after that long explanation you're
asking yourself "Why don't I just ask the owner to fly the aircraft to me?" We don't fly aircraft to show 
and we don't ask people to fly them to us either. I don't believe it's a good idea. It will cost you much 
more to get it flown in than doing the inspection there. If the aircraft is misrepresented the owner won't 
care and will still insist on keeping your deposit for the trip expenses. He lied but he has your money.
He who has the money has the power! Right? So you are out a bunch of money and mad too! And most
owners would require a substantial deposit to bring an aircraft to you. Remember above when I said be
careful? Plus many owners have been burned by buyers that haven't got their act together like you do 
and have wasted time flying around the country for nothing. So they probably wont bring it to you 
anyway. I have found that if a seller is very willing to bring the aircraft to you it may be an act of 
desperation because he has not been able to sell the aircraft for some reason. This is not always true
as one dealer in particular offers to fly their aircraft to anyone anywhere and they have very nice aircraft.
But that's not the norm. Just do the prebuy there. Tell the shop to stop if they find any deal killers. That
will save you some money and you wont waste your time traveling either. On to the inspection.

Prebuy Rules Of Engagement
Ok, you have decided how and where to get the prebuy done. Now you need to know the rules and why
you are doing the inspection in the first place. "Why I'm doing the inspection?" I know. "What do you 
mean, Why?". Well you know you are checking the condition of the aircraft. True. But what you really 
need to know is how much is it going to cost to fix any squawks. A list of squawks without accurate 
repair estimates is useless! Most mechanics are real good at writing up squawks but real bad at 
estimating the cost to fix them. When you order the prebuy you need to make it clear to the mechanic 
that you want them to list the squawks by two types. First list FYI items that don't need any attention 
like "The brakes are 25% worn." Then list the items that do need attention like "The brakes are worn out
and need replacing". The second list then needs to be broken out into parts and labor as accurately as 
possible so you can go back to the owner with a firm amount to bust off the price. Make sure the amount 
is accurate because you will be paying for the repair after you purchase the aircraft. Of course you could 
try to get the owner to fix all the items before you close but we find it's easier and faster to just bust the
price and get the aircraft home to do the repairs. Plus the owner will require a large deposit before he will
fix anything and if for some reason the deal falls though, once again you will probably not get your money
back. Again don't put your money at risk. Just keep the deal clean and bust the price. You are going to
want to close this deal "As Is" without any contingencies. And try to keep in mind that this is a used 
aircraft and not perfect. The aircraft is priced used, not new. You know the saying "If you want a new one
call the factory". So now you know the condition of the aircraft and how much it's going to cost to get it 
air-worthy. Lets go fly!

Demo Time
Lets backup for a moment. Normally we do the demo flight before the prebuy. But if the aircraft is not
local you will do the demo flight after the prebuy is done. The demo is the second half of the prebuy. 
Normally the owner will fly the aircraft and demonstrate all the systems to you. Don't worry about flying 
the demo yourself. Let the owner do it. You watch the systems work and make sure you keep a list of 
squawks. Take the controls and check the rigging. Don't worry about trying to learn how to fly the aircraft 
at this time. Concentrate on your squawk list. You will have plenty of time to fly later. Use your prebuy
guide to know what to check. And if you are not familiar with the systems you might want to get the 
mechanic to go with you. And make sure at least one of you is watching for traffic! It's easy to find both
of you with your heads down looking at something so be careful. Most demos can be done in about 45
minutes and I recommend DAY/VFR demos only. You don't really know the pilot or aircraft so don't take
any chances. So lets go buy this thing!

What To Pay
Just about everyday someone calls wanting to know what some aircraft they are looking at is worth. Well
we don't offer appraisals so what I tell the caller is do what we do and go look at the market to get an
idea of the value. If you spend some time on this you will get a pretty good idea what the aircraft is worth.
After you have done this it's time to decide how you are going to proceed. Lets assume the owner is 
asking the correct price for the aircraft. Well you can go two directions here. You can go ahead and pay
the sellers price less squawks or make a lower offer. Most buyers will take a shot with an offer and that's
normal. You want to be sure you're at the sellers bottom dollar. It's how you make the offer that can 
cause a problem. I can tell you that after over 26 in this business nothing ticks me off more than the way
some folks try to get you to bust. What gets me going is the guy that calls and says "Your price is way
too high! I will give no more than X for your aircraft". Now keep in mind I have 26 years experience 
appraising and selling aircraft. I do it for a living. I know I'm not too high. And this guy hasn't asked me 
one question about the aircraft. After a few more questions from me I realize he doesn't even know 
anything about the aircraft other than a few basic facts! But he knows it's way too high. Give me a break!
Or he knows the aircraft very well because we have been talking about it for quite some time but decides
he wants to try and buy it for less so he makes me an offer that is ridiculously low and tells me that's all
it's worth. Both of these offers are an insult to my aircraft and my intelligence! Usually the offer is below
what I would give for the aircraft as a dealer! On the other hand I have total respect for a guy that calls 
and says "I really like your aircraft and I know you said the price is correct and firm and I agree with that
but I just don't have a high enough budget to pay your price would you take X?" I will bend over backwards
to do anything I can for a straight shooter like this. My favorite call is when the low baller calls back after
telling me I'm way too high and I get to tell him I sold the aircraft for the listed price right after we last 
talked! And if I can sell an aircraft for below true market value I guarantee I will love selling it to the 
straight shooter. He deserves it. So don't insult the owner. Be nice. If the seller is actually too high all 
you can do is politely tell him you have done your home work and can show him some examples of 
similar aircraft that prove out your position. Offer him as much of that value as you can afford and tell him
you understand if he doesn't want to bust. If he doesn't bust thank him for his time and move on. If you're
nice and make a fair offer he may call you back at a later date when he realizes he's too high. You need
to understand any good dealer will give 80% of the true retail value of an aircraft for inventory. And just 
like houses most owners don't wholesale their aircraft. They don't have to. Any good aircraft will sell for
retail in short order if priced right. I have always priced our aircraft at the price I expect it to sell for with
no negotiating room and I normally get that price. So if it's priced right expect to pay that price. And if 
you do, consider yourself lucky because you have gotten what I describe as a good deal. A good 
aircraft at the right price. Anyone that thinks you can routinely buy good aircraft at below market prices
is wrong. If you go around low balling everyone you will miss out on many great aircraft and probably 
never actually buy anything. Ok, you've come to an agreement on the price. Lets close.

Funding The Funds
We're getting close to closing! Your prebuy is done and paid for. You have agreed on a fair price less
squawks. Now what? Pay and leave! Ok. Maybe there's a little more to it than that. You need a title 
search. If you are financing the aircraft the lender will do this for you. What it will show is the current 
owner of record and any liens. You can also request a 337 search to be done with the normal search. 
This will show all the 337 forms ever filed on the aircraft and my reveal a case of unknown damage. Don't
be alarmed to hear that there is an old lien on the aircraft because it is very common. Most are not active
and can easily be released. The lender may or may not do this for you. Most wont. So you may have to
get the owner to do it. If you are not financing you will have to order the search yourself. Go to our vender
list and contact our title company or pick another one yourself. Don't rely on the owners claim of no
liens. Do the search. Many aircraft have liens the owners don't know about. The seller will have to fill out
and sign the FAA bill of sale and send it along with the registration form signed by you to the lender or to
you if you are a cash buyer. You then need to complete a sales contract. This contract should show the 
buyer and seller info, the aircraft info, price and any contingencies (which you should not have) and a 
statement that the sale is "AS IS" with no warranties of any kind. We need to stop at this point and drive
the point home that you are buying a used aircraft that you have had ample opportunity to inspect and fly.
If at this point you are not satisfied that it is everything you think it to be, don't buy it. You need to 
understand that no warranty means if it breaks in two on the way home you own both parts! You will have
no recourse and that is the way these aircraft are sold. Calling the owner after the sale to tell him 
something broke will usually result in a response like "Sorry. It was working when it left and you had every
opportunity to check it out. Sorry if you missed something but AS IS means AS IS. It's used. Not perfect.
And has no warranty. It states that on the sales contract". When you sell the aircraft one day you will feel
the same. So don't get bent out of shape over a fresh squawk. I tell my buyers "If you don't find something
broke by the time you get home you're not paying attention. It's an airplane they break". Back to the 
funding. Once the docs are in order and the insurance binder is in the lenders hands you are ready to 
transfer funds. If you are financing the aircraft your lender will wire the payoff direct to the sellers lender
and any extra to the sellers account. You will have a cashiers check for the down payment made out to
the seller. If you are not financing you will need to wire the payoff to their lender and bring them a cashiers
check for the balance. If they don't have a loan you will fund the total to them either with a cashiers check
or wire to their account. You can also use an escrow agent from an aircraft title company to do the funds
transfer. This is your expense but it may be worth it to you if you don't feel comfortable with the funds 
transfer process. Funding can be different on every deal so have the seller call us before you close to
make sure everything is correct. Make sure you have all the logs, manuals and parts that go with the
aircraft before you close. One last thing before were done. Taxes. Sales tax may be due depending on
the state you are from. Every state is a little different so you need to contact your state tax office to find
out what you will owe if anything. Most states will charge sales and property tax. Look into it. The last
thing you want is a big bill after you just spent your last dime on this great aircraft!

Mission Accomplished
This info is our way of doing things and it works very well for us. Of course like I said in the beginning
you and the owner will have to decide how to proceed. If you are buying one of the aircraft here at
"Aircraft By Owner" the owner will be able to contact us for advice and help. We hope you can put this
info to good use. Good luck!