How has the used business jet market performed so far in 2019? And how can buyers and sellers ensure they get a good deal? Jet Tolbert offers the perspectives of the dealer broker community he has been speaking to over the past few months…
To sum up the year so far, the used business jet market started 2019 slowly, but as things appear to be heating up many of the dealers and brokers I speak with are generally happy with the shape of today’s market and are regularly completing transactions.
But what does the quickening in activity that we’re seeing mean for today’s buyers and sellers?
A Sumary of the Last Few Months
Let’s first consider what’s happened in the market in the past six months. December 2018 was unusually strong for aircraft transactions. While it’s traditional that December sees an increase in the number of transactions, almost every broker I’ve spoken with experienced the same surge in transactions in December 2018, compared with what is traditional for that month.
The general consensus was that January was either slow or steady with the closing of deals that were agreed during December 2018, and then February brought a slowing in activity (although the best pedigree, lowest-time aircraft could still have experienced strong offer activity).
While sellers have been receiving serious sales enquiries all the while, it’s unsurprising to note that the sellers with higher quality aircraft have been receiving interest from a higher number of active buyers and some have even found themselves with back-up offers on the table, should a sale fall through.
At the same time, sellers of similar aircraft with slightly higher time or ‘very good’ pedigree – as opposed to exceptional pedigree – may have received little interest during that same timeframe.
Moving into March and April most brokerages spoken with have been reporting an upturn in serious enquiries and offers accepted, even on those aircraft that were receiving little, or no interest in the preceding months.
The Current Market Questions
Could the increase in activity be related to a growing confidence in the stock market and the strong dollar? Or could this latest flourish in buyer activity simply indicate that people are keen to get a transaction finished before the traditional summer lull?
Historically the market becomes frustrated after Memorial Day as even the most serious buyers and sellers can be hamstrung when executives and business partners are out of reach on vacation.
Or maybe the opposite could be true and the current activity could hold strong through the summer. Either way there will be more aircraft arriving on the market as we move closer to Q4, providing more options for buyers to consider.
A Note on the Off-Market Scene
There have been mentions lately about a rise in ‘off market’ transactions, fueled by the lack of newer inventory on the used market. It’s important to note that while a buyer might like to find an off-market ‘deal’, they’re less likely to find a seller prepared to accept an offer in line with what the market will bear.
From a seller’s perspective there are buyers out there today for high quality, well maintained aircraft. If that describes an aircraft you’re looking to place on the market, then you can be confident of receiving buyer interest.
And with the right advertising, sellers with in-demand aircraft can leverage their bargaining power to not only yield an attractive offer, but potentially have back-up options in case the first buyer gets twitchy.
Today, more than ever, the assistance of a buyer’s agent or seller’s broker will help navigate the pitfalls, and entanglement with counterparties (as can be the case when attempting an ‘off-market’ transaction).
The experience of a well-established, respected firm with a good handle on the market and all its available advertised and ‘off-market’ inventory will make all the difference.
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