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Why Some Sellers Don’t List Prices

Why Some Sellers Don’t List Prices

24/05/2022

Original Article by Jen Boyer, HeliTrader; May 17, 2022

“There are a host of reasons why a seller or broker won’t include a price in a listing, but I’d argue if you really want to buy a helicopter, it doesn’t matter if the price is listed,” said International Aviation Marketing director, Brad Shaen.

“Helicopters aren’t commodities like cars. They’re an investment where no two are anything alike in time, age, equipment, time on engines, and components. Having to call a broker to learn about the price isn’t a drawback. It’s what a serious buyer would do.”

Helicopters, even when listed for sale, are typically still working. Given this fact, the maintenance status can change week to week, thus affecting the price. Mike Reyno Photo

Visit any website with helicopters for sale, and, chances are, you will see phrases like “contact seller for price” and “make an offer” more often than you’ll see an actual price tag. In fact, that’s currently true for about three-quarters of all listings on HeliTrader.

However, a lack of real prices is one of the biggest frustrations voiced by visitors. In our instant gratification, need-details-now society, people want to know the price. In fact, listings with prices see more than three times the traffic, seeming to suggest increased interest.

Or does it?

“There are a host of reasons why a seller or broker won’t include a price in a listing, but I’d argue if you really want to buy a helicopter, it doesn’t matter if the price is listed,” said International Aviation Marketing director, Brad Shaen. “Helicopters aren’t commodities like cars. They’re an investment where no two are anything alike in time, age, equipment, time on engines, and components. Having to call a broker to learn about the price isn’t a drawback. It’s what a serious buyer would do.”

Shaen says while more people may click on an ad with a price, many times the price sets a false expectation. A lower price than expected may look good, but there are reasons the price is lower — such as timed out or nearly timed out, components and engines. Higher prices may be passed over, yet those new components, avionics, or engines that contribute to the price could be a valuable addition worth the cost.

His point – it’s always best to talk to the seller directly to know exactly what’s involved in the price. This is one of his main reasons for not listing the price. He hopes to focus his time on serious buyers who will call or email.

“Imagine an older machine is listed but it has a new gearbox, so the price reflects this expensive component,” he explained. “But someone looking at the age of the aircraft then the price is going to think it’s overpriced and move on. The same if it’s a lower price for a younger aircraft that has maintenance due. It is better to be able to explain the value of the aircraft transparently, and directly answer questions for buyers so they fully understand the price.”

That said, he does admit there is another industry-wide concern in posting the price – competition. In many cases, sellers allow multiple brokers to list aircraft. This can create bidding wars when prices are listed. Broker A will see Broker B’s price, then undercut it, and so on. This effect ends up with the seller being forced to consider a lowball bid — something no broker wants to face.

Nathalie Bunn, communications and corporate affairs director at Blueberry Aviation, added that sometimes the customer does not want the broker listing the price, and other times there are prices listed on the market that end up not being accurate.

“Generally, our market evolves extremely quickly,” she said. “The last few weeks and months well illustrate this rapid fluctuation in supply versus demand for some models. Showing a price that could rapidly decrease or rise does not serve the customer and negatively impacts the market’s perception of the asset being sold.”

Shaen agrees. He notes that helicopters for sale are rarely sitting around waiting for a buyer. They’re working, and working means putting time on the aircraft, engine(s), and components, or even reaching maintenance milestones that lead to new or upgraded components.

Additionally, a larger customer with multiple of the same aircraft may do component swaps. All of these things will affect the price, forcing the broker to continually adjust it to reflect value. Ultimately, fluctuating prices turn off buyers.

“Imagine an older machine is listed but it has a new gearbox, so the price reflects this expensive component. But someone looking at the age of the aircraft then the price is going to think it’s overpriced and move on. ”

Brad Shaen, International Aviation Marketing Director

Other reasons for not listing the price include options available at purchase. Some sellers can offer upgrades or maintenance packages, which will affect the price. Others will have an aircraft due for maintenance and can offer that as part of the sale or not — again, affecting the price.

“In the end, there are benefits for both the buyer and seller when there is no price listed,” Shaen said. “When no price is listed, only serious buyers reach out and there is no opportunity for buyers to be misled by a posted price.”

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