One of the most opportune times to buy an airplane is likely when the owner can no longer utilize or maintain that plane. Those looking to upgrade will want maximum returns on the sale of their airplane, while those hoping to end their financial responsibility for the vessel may entertain any reasonable offer.
If you find a plane that you would like to add your fleet, reviewing its title history is important. There could be a blemish on the aircraft’s title that will affect your ability to purchase it and possibly what you pay.
Can you buy a plane with a lien on its title, and what happens if you do?
You can purchase a plane with blemishes on title
There is no reason to inherently avoid planes that have issues with their title, but you have to address those problems before you will officially become the owner. Making an offer contingent on the other party settling the lien may be the best approach.
Otherwise, you may have to factor in the cost to settle the lien when deciding what to pay for the plane. You will typically only be able to change the owner of record once you clear the lien and have it removed from title. Unless the owner pays before transferring the title to you or provides proof that they already resolved the lien, you will be the one ultimately expected to pay whatever judgment or outstanding debts led to the lean.
Owners in distress may be willing to negotiate
The more urgently someone needs to divest themselves of a plane and the numerous costs it creates, the more leverage a potential buyer may have during negotiations. When you see someone offering a plane for sale at a price that is too good to be true, you can generally expect that there will either be mechanical issues you need to address or titled blemishes that will increase the cost you must invest in the airplane.
Looking into the vehicle’s history, having a professional perform a title search and arranging for an in-depth inspection are all ways to protect yourself when you intend to buy a used airplane from a prior owner. Doing your due diligence before you transfer money or commit to purchasing an airplane will protect you during an expensive aviation transaction.