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Membership: First-time buyer?Membership: First-time buyer?

Four steps to buying your first aircraft

Purchasing an aircraft for the first time can be a daunting process, but AOPA Aviation Finance will provide you with the best financing options for your needs and help you through the process.

Understand your financial picture. At a minimum, you’ll need a 15- to 20-percent down payment, plus 18 months of payments in liquid assets and a credit score of no less than 700 to be considered. Just like buying a house, set your budget according to what works with your financial situation before you get your heart set on a specific aircraft. Lenders look at four main factors when determining your creditworthiness: credit score, debt-to-income ratio, liquidity, and unsecured debt. There are ideal characteristics for each of these four different credit areas a lender will review. If you are at the limit in all categories, you can expect that it may be a challenge to get a loan approval, and the stronger you are in any of the categories the greater chances of getting the best options.

Apply for financing. Once you are ready to begin the approval process, your account executive will send you a link to the online application. After completing your application, you will receive access to AOPA’s secure Document Upload Tool, where you can submit all your supporting documents. Along the way both your account executive and AOPA's loan processors will be available to assist if you have questions.

Negotiate the purchase. Before you can set a closing date, you will need to check a few more items off your list in order to make sure the sale and financing go smoothly. It will be important to understand the valuation of the aircraft, schedule a prebuy inspection, and negotiate the purchase and sales agreement with the seller before closing can take place. Lenders will also require that you have insurance in place.

Close on your first aircraft. By now, all your documentation should be in order, with the steps of lender approval, prebuy inspection, escrow and contracts addressed.

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