We have just completed the sale of another airplane on eBay and are Platinum Powersellers. I thought I would take a minute and share some of the things we have learned about on-line selling of large ticket items. And I certainly don’t know it all.
First, eBay is an advertising medium just like any other print, mail or on-line ad where you will find airplanes listed for sale. Its purpose is to give a buyer enough information to offer a fair price, arrange for payment and to agree to make a cross country trip to your location to complete the purchase in a timely fashion. The plus is eBay gives you almost unlimited space to do this for one price. Use it!!
SPECS: Sit down with the logs & equipment list and write a very detailed list of the avionics & history of the plane. (Try a Google search on the N number-- you may be surprised!) List the total airframe time and engine & prop time since major overhaul. Include the name of the shop who did it and the date completed. Are the logs complete since new? Any damage history, no matter how slight? US registry since new? Corrosion issues? Is there an up-to-date AD list? List all the good, the bad & the ugly, including what does not work. If you list the negatives (and all planes have some) it will give your buyer confidence in your description and you won’t have to adjust the price for them later. Be as objective as possible.
PHOTOS: eBay allows 24 photos for $2, a great value. Use It! These photos are used to allow the buyer to feel he has seen the plane and is comfortable bidding on it. Somewhere between 2,000 & 4,000 people will view these photos. Lots of close ups of the panel, seats, windshield, cowl, as well as the overall view. Two tips here: Clean the plane and take everything out of it that does not go with it, including headsets, handheld GPS etc.(If the buyer sees them, he will want you to include them!) Then wait for a sunny day; late afternoon or early morning is best. Ideally, park the plane on a white cement ramp with nothing but blue sky and grass in the background. Good photos are all about lighting and background We usually take about 40 pictures and use the best 24.
IDENTITY: In dealing in high ticket items there are many scammers who hide behind fake eBay names and try to collect deposits on things they don't own. eBay works hard to eliminate this but they keep popping up. So I list my name, email and phone contact. I also show the airport where the plane is located and the N-number. This information gives the long distance buyer additional comfort that he is dealing with a real person and real airplane.
PRICING: It's been said there are three numbers irrelevant to the final selling price of a plane: 1) What you have in it. 2) What you owe on it. 3) What the buyer’s budget is. When an airplane is priced competitively with similar airplanes now available and advertised properly it will sell. The competition will set the price. The make, model, and year will make up 80% of the appraisal, the engine & airframe time the next 10% and the last 10%, and only 10%, will vary with avionics, cosmetics & damage history. I suggest you search the market for comparable airplanes and price yours accordingly. I know your buyer will. Remember, we are in the information age.
AUCTION FORMAT: eBay (actually eBay Motors) offers 5, 7,10 day auctions. I prefer a 5 or 7 day sale with a weekend exposure. If you list it late in the afternoon it will end at the same time 5 or 7 days later. So don’t list it at 2AM. . Most all airplanes are listed with a reserve not shown to the bidders. This means you don’t have to sell it unless the bid exceeds that reserve. That being said, start the bidding at $1,000 and let the market appraise it for you. The dealers & speculators out there will take it to wholesale quickly. As you approach the last day of your auction you might want to consider adding a "Buy It Now" price to show watchers what they can buy it for should it not sell at auction. This limits your upside, so don't do it until the last day. Sometimes a buyer, who is afraid of losing it at the last minute, clicks the Buy It Now and the auction ends instantly with your airplane being sold for your price. This happened to us twice.You will find most of the bidding action is on the first day and during the last hours.
AUCTION COSTS: The cost to list an airplane is $40 + $2 for photos+ $5 for reserve. If it sells, another $40 final value fee is added but the reserve fee is dropped. This is about the cost of a print ad in the national publications but you get way more description and photos in your ad here.
INSPECTION: Some sellers require the buyer to do any inspections prior to the end of the auction. It is not practical for someone to travel cross country and pay to inspect an airplane they may not be the successful bidder on. Our policy is the auction sets the price at the terms we state. Our terms prescribe a deposit within 48 hours and closing within one week. If you come here personally, do your inspection, and choose not to buy, I will refund your deposit in full with no hassle. I will then contact the second highest bidder and sell it to him. Remember, he only bid $100 less. Its good to thank the other bidders for their interest when the sale ends.
TERMS:.We require the successful bidder to put down $1,000 within 48 hours, using Paypal or a bank check sent overnight express. This shows a sincere buyer quickly. If he doesn’t pay, go to the next bidder promptly. Negative feedback will probably draw negative feedback in return. Its better to get on with your sale. After the buyer comes here and does the inspection, he will usually wire transfer the balance to our bank to pay the plane off and be on his way. Details of this transfer are usually worked out by phone between the parties and their banks in advance.
SUMMARY: We have found eBay to be another effective way to market airplanes.(We use 3 or 4 media sources) Of the ones we have listed about a third have sold on the eBay auction listings, including 3 that were paid in full without inspection, another third have sold at a later date as a result of eBay advertising & fixed price listings, and the last third have not sold on eBay but thru other media. .
We have been in the aircraft sales business 40 years and have sold over 2,000 airplanes and it is a constantly changing market. We would appreciate your comments, suggestions or any questions you may have. Please visit our about me page and eBay store.