What’s the Deal with “Make Offer”?

According to our market tracking, 30% of sellers are making the curious (in our opinion) decision
not to place a firm asking price on their listing. By “firm” we mean one with numbers. Instead, we find instance after instance of our industry’s nebulous little phrase “Make Offer” … Ever wonder why?

After all, you can dart around Zillow for hours and not find a real estate listing with “inquire.” We couldn’t find a single Honda on Carfax within 100 miles listed without a price. Corporate jets are not a one of a kind painting or skyscraper or custom mega-yacht with unknowable value.

Normal convention dictates that the seller (owner) of something starts the process with an asking price. Any tome on bargaining will emphasize that the first party put a number on the table takes control of the negotiation.

But the “Make Offer” phenomenon isn’t really about that. We think it is usually indicative of a larger issue, and one that both sellers and buyers should be aware of.

To place a firm asking price on any item presupposes two things. First; that the item is really for sale by a willing seller. Second; that there are awareness and acceptance of a realistic market value by the broker and owner (note: it’s helpful when this is the same value).

Yes, we are getting at the fact that many aircraft listed for sale are not really for sale. Some are in fact totally not for sale but are listed for sale to appease some other short-term seller issue. Some are sort of for sale, at the right price, under the right circumstances, if the broker just happens to find a buyer unaware of market conditions. This never happens of course, but up the listing goes at “Make Offer” anyway.

However, another factor accounts for the majority of this problem: disagreement over value. When the broker is suggesting a market value that the owner finds objectionable, a roadblock is presented. The owner wants to hold out for a higher number, but the broker doesn’t want to hang an asking price that will scare away buyers. The path of least resistance is to leave the issue unresolved and go out with “Make Offer.”

The key here for buyers in their aircraft search: get to the bottom of a “Make Offer” listing right away and uncover the real story. There may be a plausible explanation, and aircraft listed at “Make Offer” do get sold. But often, it’s a sign of trouble.

For sellers: don’t forgo your single most valuable marketing tool, which is a well thought out asking price. Asking prices contain valuable signals to the marketplace and can create instant credibility and competitiveness for the listing. Attentive buyer’s brokers read a lot of information from them. A firm asking price is also a critical information gathering technique.

Most good brokers we know always prefer a firm ask on their listings. If your broker is recommending one, they are probably right.