The landscape for aircraft appraisal has changed over the last 10 years. In the past, you’d be able to find listings for aircraft that are no longer available in newspapers or at your FBO. In fact, you would find that those aircraft listings were 60+ days old.

Now, the resources for buyers and sellers are simply different and more readily available. So it’s time to realize that there are other resources available to not only help you find the right aircraft for your needs but to process the aircraft appraisal accurately. Hiring an experienced aviation appraiser offers expert insight from an unbiased view, which is critical to protect you from expensive mistakes.

Want the most accurate appraisal for your aircraft? Explore how VREF conducts aircraft appraisals differently.

What To Know About Hiring An Appraiser For Your Aircraft

When hiring an appraiser for your aircraft, there are several things you need to be knowledgeable about. And this is solely to avoid making costly mistakes when purchasing an aircraft.


There are 2 things that you need to research before hiring an appraiser for your aircraft: proper accreditation and the aviation market.

Proper Accreditation

First things first, you need to find an appraiser that is an Accredited Member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). In order to be an accredited appraiser, you have to go through rigorous training and testing to make the mark. To find this appraiser, you can either search through the ASA or go to a reliable appraisal company like VREF. The big thing to look at is their overall volume and expertise. At VREF, we conduct an average of 20,000 valuations per month with 700,000 subscribers using our platform for research for 800+ aircraft models. Additionally, we conduct several thousand true aircraft appraisals every year for financing or estate planning.

When you’re dealing with that much appraisal work and data sets, you are more likely to get the information you need to make a good deal.

When interviewing or evaluating appraisers, look for the following acronyms or titles:

  • Accredited Aircraft Senior Appraiser (ASA)
  • Accredited Member of the Appraisers National Association (ANA)
  • Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA)

Lookout for appraisers only using the word “certified” to describe their abilities and accreditation (keep scrolling to find out why).

Market Research

The next thing to research is the market. In order to be an effective buyer or seller of aircraft, you need to be obsessed with the deal. That is, of course, if you want to come out with a good deal. But what does that mean exactly?

You need to put in time on a daily basis to see which aircraft are moving, if they are coming back on the market soon after being sold, and what the values reflect. The reason you want to be tapped into the market so closely is because accuracy will always outweigh guesswork. And knowledge is power.

Being familiar with the market is yet another reason why hiring an ASA Accredited Aircraft Appraiser is among all-time best practices when going through the plane buying process. If the appraiser you hire is competent, then they will already have a wealth of knowledge about previous, current, and potential trends in the market.

Ask Questions

When you look at who can perform an aircraft appraisal, ask questions.

Years ago, you would find information on an aircraft’s value via the classifieds. But in today’s world, buyers are purchasing their aircraft sight unseen. Why? Most transactions do not occur locally – mainly because of convenience. Additional expenses are involved when an aircraft needs to be moved. On the other side, you may need to cover your appraiser’s travel costs if they cannot easily access the aircraft in person. Cutting down on additional costs is also why we recommend for buyers to find an aircraft locally.

Now, that’s easier said than done. Open up your Rolodex.

Talk to your local aircraft maintenance shop and flight schools for their insights on potential opportunities. You never know…the plan you’re looking at may be in a shop.

You can also use social media – especially plane specific Facebook groups. Engage in those groups to see what’s coming on in the market.

Finally, you can turn to the aircraft appraisal experts – VREF. We will be able to guide you as you evaluate a specific aircraft for purchase.

Get To Know The Process

Additionally, it’s imperative to know the entire process as you engage with an appraiser. This will help you to not skip some of the most important steps to get you across the finish line.

After you’ve identified the aircraft you want to purchase, it’s crucial to have a letter of intent (LOI) signed. This spells out the conditions of the purchase agreement. In that LOI, you want to outline that you demand a pre-buy inspection. Be sure to include your expectations of what that inspection includes. Unfortunately, there is no standard form. At a minimum, your pre-buy should include a logbook review.

Once you’ve conducted the LOI and pre-buy inspection, you need to determine your financing options. If you’re using bank financing, be sure to work with a bank that is experienced or even an expert in aircraft transactions.

It’s time to put your deposit in ESCROW. This is the safest option to protect you (i.e. the buyer) and the seller. ESCROW holds the funds and only disperses them when both parties agree to close. Especially if the bank is your holding company, they will also check for title issues, registration conflicts, and lien audits.

Keep in mind, there are a lot of other steps that are involved in purchasing an aircraft; however, having this knowledge will help your conversations with an appraiser.

Look Out For Scams

Finally in your search for an aircraft appraiser, look out for these common scams.

I don’t conduct logbook reviews. Your logbooks are the foundation of your aircraft history. This should be a standard process. If your “expert” avoids it, it usually indicates their lack of knowledge, competency, or comfort level with aviation.

I’m missing records. Similarly, you may hear from sellers that they are missing records. This is a big red flag that can result in you being held captive in a nightmare situation.

I don’t do LOIs. Handshake deals used to be a thing of the past; however, to protect both parties, have an LOI that spells out the conditions of the purchase agreement.

Let’s not go through ESCROW. Again, there is probably a reason the seller wants to avoid any other party from looking into the deal. ESCROW protects both parties from potential fraud.

I’m certified. There is no such thing as a certified appraiser. Be sure to look for the term “accredited” when hiring an appraiser.

If you encounter any of these scams, it’s time to walk out the door. You’ll thank yourself down the road for avoiding a costly mistake.

VREF Has ASA Accredited Appraisers

Look no further than VREF for your next single aircraft or fleet of aircraft appraisals. As the AOPA’s official partner, VREF has completed thousands of aircraft appraisals over the past almost 3 decades – about as long as Boeing’s 777 first appeared in the skies!

Searching for an ASA Accredited Aircraft Appraiser? Talk to one of our team members today to get started.