Three things are required for a successful aircraft purchase, and one of them is a good written agreement!
This is the area where I have seen some of the most pain in both time and money, when the worst happens and an aircraft purchase goes awry.
I have seen purchase agreements that were so poorly written that no one could expect a good outcome. I have also seen purchase agreements that look like Al Capone’s attorney wrote them. One in particular, signed by a buyer, clearly made his $130,000.00 deposit non-refundable. Great for the seller, right? He had the Russian Mob write the agreement, to protect him… so he won, right?
TIP – THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT.
The only way the seller gets the money is if the buyer sends it to them. Assuming the deposit is at the title company (because it should NEVER be anywhere else) and there is a dispute and a lack of clarity about who gets the deposit, the answer is that no one gets it, at least not until the Oklahoma Courts decide who prevails. By then, the three attorneys have likely exhausted it anyway.
Good written agreements are essential to a good outcome. Please don’t ever buy an airplane and just sign the agreement provided by the broker. Send it to an AVIATION Attorney for review, don’t send it to your regular attorney. You have to be very careful which aviation attorney you hire. There are some who will complicate the process just to increase the billable hours. Once a seller gets a whiff of this, they are likely to bail.
My advice is that a well-written agreement will memorialize the verbal commitments and make it clear who does what and when. Make the up-front investment to get this done.
You don’t ever want a disputed deposit or a lawsuit… It just isn’t worth it. If the deal goes bad, everyone should be able walk away and remain civil.
Buying an airplane can be fun, but you have to do it correctly, or it can be a nightmare!
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