Everyone today is aware of the slowdown in the economy and most officials lay the blame on a real estate bubble bursting. And, this came as a result of the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market and the resultant decline of the construction industry.
The country as a whole has fallen into a deep, deep recession with banks and mortgage companies and Wall Street firms failing or getting propped up by the government. We all have read story after story about the stock market wiping out the savings of countless individuals and banks and businesses closing their doors.
Over the years we’ve found that the general aviation industry usually went into recession a little later than other businesses and took longer to recover.
But, what about the residential airpark movement? Our past surveys revealed a profile of airpark residents as being between 45-60 years old, children usually gone, well-established in careers or professions and financially in the upper middle-class.
In an attempt to ascertain what’s happening with residential airparks we recently asked subscribers to Living With Your Plane to complete a new survey. It is certainly not scientific. We received 26 responses; that’s not a tremendous number but considering we count about 625 residential airparks in the country, the responses represent about 4 percent. Additionally, the completed surveys came from 14 states with Arizona, Florida, Texas and Washington each having more than a single response. The other states represented were Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
From the respondents we learned that vacant lots were sold on a dozen airparks and the sales price for the lots ranged from less than $25,000 (only a single sale reported at that level) to five sales at the$25,000 to $75,000; four in the $76,000 to $125,000 and five airparks reported lots sold at more than $125,000 each.
The surveys indicated eight airparks had sales of established homes while 13 others reported no sale of existing homes during the year. Of the eight airparks that reported the sale of an existing home, seven indicated there were five or fewer homes sold during the year while one reported have sales of more than 10 homes. The existing homes sold primarily in the $176,000 to $500,000 range (8 reported sales) while four other existing homes were sold for a reported $500,000 or more each.
Was there a special factor why vacant lots or homes on some airparks sold and other didn’t? The survey revealed that four sales were on airparks located less than 10 miles from a major city. There were 11 transactions on facilities located 10 to 25 miles from the large city; five survey forms showed their sales were on an airpark located 25 – 50 miles from a major community and there were only three sales on residential airparks located more than 50 miles from a metropolis.
Finally, we sought information about the number of homes on the airparks. A total of 25% of the sales were on airparks with fewer than 25 homesites; 37% came on those fly-in communities with 26-50 lots and only 4% were reported on airparks with 51-100 lots. A third of the transactions were reported on airparks with more than 100 lots.
A number of the folks completing the surveys also added comments:
“We’ve seen a recent increase in real estate activity” at Whiteplains Plantation in Gilbert, South Carolina, writes one individual. “During the past 6-8 months we have averaged an inquiry per month and have been visited by several families who have toured our fly-in community neighborhood … There are at least two real estate closings coming up in the near future.”
Another survey respondent said:
“we had one buyer back out of a sale citing the failing economy.”
One writer indicated their experience was:
“most buyers were frozen in their old homes waiting to sell and buy here. Sellers for the most part were not willing to cut prices more than 30% and were waiting for the market to come alive again soon. We have noticed an increase in activity this Spring and are anxious to get to Sun ‘n Fun with great buys.”
From Hensley Airpark:
“We continue to hold our lot prices here with steady sales and construction of homes. We have eight homes completed and five under construction along with their hangars. Out of 49 lots total, we have sold 32. We do have 1 home resale available and have had a few interested prospects.”
You’ll have to determine for yourself what all that means for the residential airpark market.