Wow, there has been a lot of excellent, very thoughtful stuff presented in this thread! I especially like Roger's treatise about logbooks. Recognizing that widespread shortcoming early on, I set out to make my logbooks the best they possibly could be. Now, on the third book for each category (prop/engine/air-frame) I'm gradually getting there! My books now easily outshine no less than two-thirds of the other aircraft owners I associate with. Logbooks can tell a prospective buyer so much about what he is getting--or about to not get. If I was buying right now, the logbooks would be my first, very thorough look-see, before even bothering to check out the airplane in person. From logbooks you learn as much or more about the present owner as you do about the airplane's maintenance and repair history.
And good logbooks go hand-in-hand with knowing your airplane as intimately as you can, not just its flight characteristics (and nuisances), but all the structural and mechanical systems. I'm so fortunate that for every one of my five annuals so far, I've had a mechanic who gladly let me assist. And you would be surprised how many times I've caught those very experienced mechanics doing--or about to do something--that constituted a mistake. I just cannot imagine living in some relatively remote place, where the only available mechanic was of "no-owner-assist persuasion," you know? That's why earlier this year I took the "Inspection Rating" course up at Rainbow Aviation in Corning, CA. I was planning to then convert my Sting Sport S-LSA to E-LSA, just as Eddie has done, and begin doing my own annuals. But then I realized that for me, at least, it would be best to just stay with the status quo--relying on my three mechanics' decades of experience, but continuing to watch all of them like a hawk. That's the best--and safest--course for me.
But now, I've been thinking. When I finally do get ready to sell my airplane, which may not be too much longer, I think I'll recommend (and offer) that the new buyer spend at least 5 hours with me. With what I know now (and have bottled up to tell), I just wouldn't feel comfortable selling it to someone (unless they had mucho hours in the same type and model) who wanted to plunk down the dough, turn, and burn (saw that happen twice here, this summer, and both guys crashed before they got back home!). And if I was a buyer right now, I'd expect no less from any seller I was courting. In short, it's about the people as much as the airplane, in my opinion.