The Only Nationwide Prebuy Service for GA

Savvy’s nationwide footprint means that no matter where an aircraft is located in the U.S., we can arrange and manage your prebuy. Savvy’s incomparable team of account managers, each a seasoned A&P/IA with 20+ years of GA maintenance experience, has managed hundreds of prebuys. Learn how SavvyPrebuy will get you your dream plane or save you from a lemon!

First do this (FREE)…

Then do this…

  • Piston single: $750
  • Piston twin: $1,000
  • Turboprop single: $1,500
  • Turboprop twin: N/A
  • Turbojet single: $2,000

Looking to buy a pre-owned aircraft? Here’s what you need to do:

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First, decide what make and model you want to own based on your typical mission profile and your other requirements and preferences. Need expert assistance with this? Savvy is happy to help you free of charge.

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Second, identify promising purchase candidates by searching sites like:

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Third, obtain a preliminary review of the aircraft’s maintenance records to evaluate its maintenance and operational history and look for any obvious red flags or show stoppers. Savvy will do this for you free of charge.

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Fourth, make an offer that is accepted by the seller and sign a conditional purchase/sale agreement with the seller. Be sure to check out Savvy’s “punch list” before signing such an agreement.

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Finally, arrange for an independent trustworthy prebuy examination. For a modest fixed fee, Savvy will provide you with professional management of every stage of this process. Enroll in SavvyPrebuy.

Ready to schedule your prebuy? Have Savvy manage it for you! For a modest fixed fee, we’ll expertly guide you through every phase of the process:

Conducting a complimentary preliminary logbook review to make sure that the aircraft is a good purchase candidate and that there are no major show-stoppers or red flags. We do the preliminary logbook review at no charge, preferably before you enroll the aircraft in the Savvy Prebuy program.

Reviewing the purchase/sale agreement between you and the seller, also at no charge, before you sign it to make certain that it protects your interests and that you won’t sign something you might later regret. (Seller- and broker-furnished agreements are often stacked for the seller against the buyer.)

Selecting the best shop or mechanic to perform the prebuy examination, ensuring that it is performed by a fully qualified and impartial maintenance facility with the requisite expertise in make and model, located reasonably close to where the aircraft is situated. And, we know which shops to avoid.

Providing the prebuy shop with specific guidance through a checklist tailored to the make and model that defines the exact scope and detail of the examination to be performed. Our two-phase checklists catch show-stoppers early.

Arranging for a test flight to verify that all aircraft and avionics systems are functioning properly. It’s impossible to assess these systems (especially the autopilot) without test-flying the aircraft.

Reviewing the prebuy and test-flight findings in order to advise you of both the significance of any discrepancies we have found and whether you or the seller should bear the cost of repairing the differences..

Coaching you through your final negotiations with the seller until the deal is done and title is transferred. Generally, it’s better to have the seller reduce the price for corrections instead of the seller correcting them.

What is Savvy’s Buyer Assistance program?

Savvy offers a broad range of FREE consulting assistance to prospective aircraft buyers.

  • We can help you decide what make and model aircraft to look for.
  • If you’ve located an interesting purchase candidate, we can help you decide whether or not to make an offer to the seller.
  • If you’ve located several purchase candidates, we can help you decide which one looks to be the most purchase-worthy.
  • If you’ve made an offer on an aircraft and the seller has accepted it, we can help you make sure that the Agreement you are about to sign with the seller is one that is fair and protects your interests.

We do all this at no charge.

Of course, if and when you get to the point that you’re ready to do a prebuy examination of the aircraft, we would be delighted to arrange it and manage it for you for a modest fee.

The first step in buying an aircraft is deciding what make(s) and model(s) you want to own. This decision should be made based on

  • your typical mission profile (which will determine how many seats and how much speed and range you need)
  • your pilot experience level (which affects your insurability)
  • your experience as an aircraft owner (first-time buyers should avoid complex, exotic and maintenance-intensive aircraft)
  • your budget (remembering that the purchase price is only a down payment on the total cost of aircraft ownership).

Many first-time buyers start out looking for more aircraft than they need and can afford. Try to resist this urge. The AOPA PILOT article “What Airplane Should I Buy?” by Savvy founder and CEO Mike Busch is a good place to start.

Savvy is happy to help you decide what make(s) and model(s) best fit your needs free of charge.

Once you’ve decided on one or two specific makes and models to focus on, it’s time to search for some promising purchase candidates. Nowadays, this is almost always done by means of the various websites that specialize in listing aircraft for sale. Here are some good places to start your search:

Listings for aircraft always portray them is the most favorable light, stressing their good points and concealing their bad points. Sellers often prepare their aircraft for sale with a fresh paint job or a new interior. But what really counts is what’s under the cowling and the floorboards, and the ads aren’t likely to be very helpful in that regard.

Once of the best ways to find out “the rest of the story” is to review the aircraft’s maintenance records (i.e., logbooks). Nowadays, sellers are expected to provide scanned copies of these records in PDF format, and they’re often available right from the online listings. A preliminary review of the maintenance records will provide insight into critical facts such as:

  • Where the airplane lived during its life (Tucson would be a plus, Tampa a minus).
  • How much and how regularly it was flown over the years (extended periods of disuse would be bad news).
  • How it was maintained and by whom (certified repair station or freelancing A&P).
  • Whether it has damage history and, if so, how the damage was repaired.

Such a preliminary logbook review can help you determine whether the aircraft has any obvious red flags or show-stoppers that the listing doesn’t reveal. It’s a very good idea to perform such a review before you make an offer. Savvy will do this for you free of charge.

IMPORTANT: This preliminary logbook review is intended to provide general information about the aircraft’s operational and maintenance history. It is NOT the same as the detailed logbook research that is done during the prebuy examination to determine compliance with Airworthiness Directives, Airworthiness Limitations, Service Bulletins, and other airworthiness issues. While Savvy does the preliminary logbook review without charge, the detailed logbook review is done by the shop selected to perform the prebuy examination of the aircraft.

The first step would be to verify that the buyer’s asking price is reasonable. One way of doing this is to compare it to the asking prices of similar aircraft being offered for sale on the various aircraft listing websites. Another way is to obtain a Vref online valuation. If you’re a member of AOPA, you can get one free of charge.

Historically, it was common practice to make an offer 10% to 15% below the seller’s asking price. However, in the hot aircraft resale market we’re presently experiencing, aircraft are often changing hands at the seller’s asking price, so offering significantly less than that is a calculated risk. It’s a shame to let a really nice aircraft get away. Remember that acquisition cost is only one part of the total cost of aircraft ownership, and often not the dominant part.

If you make an offer and the buyer accepts it, you’ll need to put it in writing by signing a Conditional Purchase/Sale Agreement with the seller (or sometimes with the seller’s broker). This is where a lot of buyers get tripped up, so be careful what you sign. Make sure that any agreement you sign with the seller or broker:

  • allows you adequate time to conduct a prebuy examination of the aircraft and any other due diligence (e.g., a title search) without undue time pressure.
  • allows you to perform a thorough and independent prebuy at a shop or mechanic of your choice within a reasonable distance of where the aircraft is located (e.g., within one-hour’s flying time).
  • provides for the refund of your deposit (typically 5% of the agree-to purchase price) if you decide to walk away from the deal for good cause based on prebuy findings of airworthiness discrepancies that the seller is unwilling to pay to have corrected.

For a more complete discussion of this, see Savvy’s Prebuy “Punch List”
for Conditional Purchase/Sale Agreements.

Once you’ve signed an agreement with the seller that gives you the right to perform a prebuy examination of the aircraft, we encourage you to consider signing up for a Savvy-managed prebuy. Savvy has managed thousands of prebuys and pretty much has it down to a science. Most importantly, we’ve seen just about everything that can go wrong at this stage and will do our best to ensure that these things don’t happen to you.

What is a Savvy-managed prebuy?

Aircraft sellers are often represented by brokers, and Savvy’s prebuy program is designed to provide a similar level of professional advocacy for buyers. Most aircraft buyers understand the value of a prebuy. But they often run into problems like being unable to find a competent and unbiased shop, overpaying for the examination, and lacking a source of professional and objective advice throughout the process. That’s particularly true in the 21st century where most buyers locate aircraft via the Internet and often find themselves needing to arrange a prebuy on an aircraft located hundreds or thousands of miles away from their home base.

Savvy has managed nearly 1,000 prebuys for its clients since we started doing this in 2008. Our SavvyPrebuy program offers you the experience and expertise of Savvy’s incomparable team of account managers, each of whom is a seasoned A&P/IA with 20+ years of GA maintenance experience. We have a nationwide footprint and work with hundreds of maintenance shops and mechanics throughout the U.S. (and in a dozen other countries), so we’re able to manage prebuys no matter where the aircraft you’re interested in is situated.

Savvy provides you (the buyer) with professional management through every stage of the prebuy process.

  • Performing a preliminary logbook review to ensure that the aircraft is a good purchase candidate and that there are no major show-stoppers or red flags. By reviewing the aircraft logbooks, we can learn a tremendous amount about how and where the aircraft has been operated; how, where and by whom it has been maintained; and what the major areas of concern and concentration should be during the prebuy exam. IMPORTANT: We do the preliminary logbook review at no charge, and we prefer to do it before you enroll the aircraft in the Savvy Prebuy program, preferably before you sign an agreement with the seller. We don’t want you to spend any money on a prebuy (including our fee) until we’re confident that the aircraft is one worth considering.
  • Reviewing the purchase/sale agreement between you and the seller before you sign it to ensure that it protects your interests and that you won’t sign something you might later regret. IMPORTANT: We do this at no charge, too, and do it before we ask you to enroll the aircraft in the SavvyPrebuy program.
  • Selecting the best shop or mechanic to perform the prebuy examination, assuring that it is performed by a fully qualified and impartial maintenance facility with the requisite expertise in make and model, located reasonably close to where the aircraft is situated.
  • Providing the prebuy shop with specific guidance in the form of a checklist tailored to the make and model that defines the exact scope and detail of the examination to be performed.
  • Arranging for a test flight to verify that all aircraft and avionics systems are functioning properly.
  • Reviewing the prebuy and test-flight findings, advising you of the significance of any disrepancies found and whether you or the seller should bear the cost of repairing such discrepancies. (The general rule is that the seller is responsible for any airworthiness issues, and the buyer is responsible for non-airworthiness issues.)
  • Coaching you through your final negotiations with the seller until the deal is done and title is transferred.

Savvy charges a fixed one-time fee that varies with the complexity of the aircraft involved. In most cases, this fee is $750 for piston singles and $1,000 for piston twins, $1,500 for single-engine turboprops, and $2,000 for single-engine very-light jets.

For most of our clients, the cost winds up being only half of that. If you purchase the aircraft and place it under SavvyMx management (as most of our prebuy clients do), we credit 50% of the prebuy fee against your first-year SavvyMx annual management fee. So in most cases your net cost for our management of the prebuy is just $375 for piston singles, $500 for piston twins, etc.

If you opt to place your new-to-you aircraft in the SavvyQA consulting program instead (e.g., because the aircraft doesn’t qualify for SavvyMx), we’ll also credit you 50% of your first-year SavvyQA fee.

If you decide NOT to purchase the aircraft and choose to have Savvy manage a prebuy for you on another aircraft, we will transfer as much of the unused portion of your prebuy fee to the next prebuy as we can. How much we can transfer depends on how much effort was expended on the prebuy before you pulled the plug, but we try to be as generous as we can.

See our fee schedule for complete details.

IMPORTANT: The fees discussed above are for Savvy’s management of your prebuy. In addition, you will need to pay the labor charges invoiced by the shop Savvy selects to perform the physical examination of the aircraft. For most piston singles, expect the labor to run 8 to 10 hours; the hourly rate can vary between $70 and $120 depending on geographic location. Depending on your arrangement with the seller, you may also need to bear some or all of the cost of ferrying the aircraft to and from the prebuy shop. So for a piston single, figure on an all-inclusive cost of something between $1,500 and $2,000. (That’s money well-spent to make sure you’re not buying a lemon.)

Many buyers—especially first-time buyers—go into the prebuy process with misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations. Here are some important things you need to know before embarking on this journey:

  • Allow plenty of time. Sellers (and especially brokers) always want to get the deal done right away, but this isn’t realistic. Although the actual prebuy examination usually takes only a couple of days to complete, it often takes two weeks or more before it starts. Competent shops are typically booked up months in advance with annual inspections and other work for their regular clientele, and it’s not easy to get them to shoehorn your prebuy onto their busy shop schedule. Some shops simply refuse to do so, which is why it often takes approaching multiple shops before we can find one that is willing to do your prebuy within an acceptable timeframe. Make sure that the seller gives you at least 2-3 weeks to get the prebuy done and close the deal.
  • Insist on an independent examination. For the prebuy examination to mean anything, it must be done by a qualified shop or mechanic who has no prior history with the aircraft and no prior relationship with the seller or the seller’s broker. This almost always rules out doing the prebuy at the aircraft’s home airport, and always rules out doing it in the seller’s hangar or at his regular shop. Make sure the seller agrees to allow you to have the prebuy done by a shop or mechanic of your choice within a reasonable distance* of the aircraft’s location, and agrees to deliver the aircraft to the prebuy location you designate. (*We like to define “a reasonable distance” as one hour’s flying time.) If the seller resists doing this, he probably has something to hide, Savvy will not agree to manage a prebuy under less-than-independent circumstances, and you would probably be wise to move on to another purchase candidate.
  • Don’t sign a conditional purchase/sale agreement with the seller or broker that doesn’t protect your interests. We urge you to review Savvy’s Conditional Purchase/Sale Agreement Punch List for a list of the things you need to make sure the agreement addresses before you sign it.

How does a Savvy-managed prebuy work?

To get the ball rolling, we ask that you fill out a short online form to let us know what kind of aircraft you’re interested in buying and where you are in your search process.

Perhaps you’re a first-time buyer who would like guidance on which makes and models would best fit your needs. Perhaps you’ve narrowed your search to two or three specific aircraft and want help deciding which one to make an offer on. Or perhaps you’ve already made an offer on a specific aircraft and are ready to have logbooks reviewed, a prebuy shop selected, and the prebuy examination scheduled. Your answers to the questions on our online Inquiry Form will help us understand where you are in the process and what kind of assistance you need.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to one or a few specific candidate aircraft, we’ll ask you to provide Savvy with a scanned copy of the aircraft logbooks (airframe, engine, propeller, etc.) for a preliminary review. We do this preliminary review at no cost, and we prefer to do it before you enroll the aircraft for a Savvy-managed prebuy. We don’t want you to spend any money on a prebuy (including our fee) until we’re confident that the aircraft is one worth considering. If you are considering a few different candidate aircraft, you will probably find our preliminary logbook review quite helpful in deciding one to make an offer on.

The best way to provide scanned logbooks to Savvy is by using our online Inquiry Form. If the logbooks are already online on the web or in the cloud somewhere, just provide the URL where we can access them. Otherwise, the online form allows you to upload one or several files (preferably in PDF format). Once we have access to the scanned logbooks, we try our best to get back to you with our impressions and recommendations within a day or two.

IMPORTANT: Completing this form is NOT a commitment to subscribe to the paid SavvyPrebuy service, and costs you nothing. There is no payment and no obligation unless and until you are under contract with a specific seller to purchase a specific aircraft and formally engage Savvy to manage your prebuy of that specific aircraft. Prior to that, we are happy to help you without charge.

If Savvy’s preliminary review indicates that the aircraft you’re interested in looks like a good purchase candidate, the next step is for you to make an offer on the candidate aircraft, have your offer accepted by the seller, and enter into a written conditional purchase/sale agreement with the seller.

In this agreement, you agree to purchase the aircraft at an agreed-to price conditioned on the results of a prebuy examination, the seller agrees to allow you to perform such a prebuy examination, and you both agree on who is responsible for paying to repair any discrepancies found during the prebuy. (Normally, the seller should bear the cost of repairing any airworthiness discrepancies, and you should bear the cost of repairing any non-airworthiness discrepancies.)

IMPORTANT: We strongly recommend using the industry-standard specimen purchase/sale agreement endorsed by AOPA as a template for your agreement with the seller. If you are considering signing an agreement furnished by the seller or his broker, we strongly urge you to let us review the agreement before you sign it to make sure there aren’t any “gotchas” in the agreement that could make your life difficult. (If the agreement was drawn up by the seller or his broker, you can bet it’s heavily biased in favor of the seller’s best interests rather than yours.)

Once you’ve struck a deal with the seller, it’s time for you to engage Savvy to manage a physical prebuy examination of the aircraft by enrolling for SavvyPrebuy online. At this point, we’ll then charge your credit card for the SavvyPrebuy management fee, assign one of Savvy’s account managers to manage your prebuy, select a prebuy shop, get your prebuy on the shop’s schedule, arrange to ferry the aircraft to the shop, and generally hit the ground running.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the seller gives you at least 10 business days to complete the prebuy. The best shops are also the busiest. Please give us enough advance notice so we can get your prebuy scheduled with the best.

The SavvyPrebuy service agreement defines what you can expect Savvy to do for during the prebuy. Be sure to read it carefully before signing up, and let us know if you have any questions.