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Old 30-12-2014, 15:26   #31
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

I remember when I first bought a boat, I set myself a tentative budget of $300k. The first broker I talked to, in my exploratory phase and after we discussed my needs/wants/preferences and budget, came back to me with a list of boats, all of them priced at $299,000. It was pretty damn funny. Politely told him that I was going to pursue another path.

I actually know the broker that Julie mentioned very well, and any cruising sailor in the Annapolis area knows precisely who it is. His personality is not for everyone, by any stretch, and is very polarizing. People tend to either be ok with it, or really dislike him.

He is, in fact, very knowledgeable about boats. He's a walking encyclopedia of yacht design and construction history, of systems, rigging, safety at sea and a range of other topics. But he's a salesman and a compulsive braggart through and through and it's pretty clear from Julie's experience that she got caught on the sharp end of that, unfortunately.

Julie I think you're absolutely right in your assessment of what you're going to need to do. It's a rare boat that is in the condition that its listing pictures portray, and listing blurbs are for the most part completely useless in assessing the fitness of any particular vessel.

And don't get me started on surveys. Marine surveyors are like home inspectors, for the most part. As a rule they are "jacks of all trades" and perhaps a master of one. And they have 8 hours to poke and prod a boat which we all know will at best reveal gross or obvious flaws but little beyond that.

I do think that your best strategy is to get on as many boats as possible, researching them along the way, and decide on the make/model of boat that you want. Then set out looking for the best example that you can find, or the one that is the best compromise of outfitting, condition, and price that works for you. Find a buyer's broker that has deep experience in that boat. They can be extremely useful. They often know the boats that are on the market because they've been on them before or even sold it in the past. And they can be valuable in ascertaining the true market value of a particular boat and in your negotiations with the seller.

I think it's very difficult to look at lots of different makes/models of boats and say you're going to buy the first one that you like, can afford, and is in good enough condition. It becomes apples to oranges and it can be difficult to develop confidence that you're choosing the right one. Better to zero in on what you want, then go to work finding the best one of those, educating yourself along the way on that particular boat.

By the way, that Passport 47 is in as good condition as the pictures suggest. I've been on it. It's gorgeous.
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Old 30-12-2014, 15:33   #32
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

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.....The most absurd - at an in-water boat show, we approached a sailboat we'd been researching. The salesman was sitting on the deck, in lotus position. He was meditating and asked us to wait until he was done.
What a perfect time to break wind!
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Old 30-12-2014, 16:22   #33
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

There are lots of brokers that should be doing something else. However, keep in mind that many "good" brokers have their "buyers" stories as well.

Julie, in your case, what did it matter how good the first broker was or how bad the second, at least to you? You were just sight seeing. Neither one of them or any of the others that you have contacted have been paid for doing their job as a result of meeting you.

Now, if you say that you are going to commit to use the broker that you liked for your possible future transaction then maybe it could turn out to have been a worthwhile day for him. If not....?

Brokers kiss a lot of frogs as well.
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Old 30-12-2014, 18:11   #34
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

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There are lots of brokers that should be doing something else. However, keep in mind that many "good" brokers have their "buyers" stories as well.

Julie, in your case, what did it matter how good the first broker was or how bad the second, at least to you? You were just sight seeing. Neither one of them or any of the others that you have contacted have been paid for doing their job as a result of meeting you.

Now, if you say that you are going to commit to use the broker that you liked for your possible future transaction then maybe it could turn out to have been a worthwhile day for him. If not....?

Brokers kiss a lot of frogs as well.
Good point. I have heard more than a couple of brokers use that exact expression..."You need to kiss a lot of frogs between serious buyers."

I think it comes down to personal fit. You want someone that you have a rapport with, that you have enough of a connection with that you can trust your communication with them, that you have some confidence that they are listening to you and reflecting on your needs, experience, and circumstances. No one wants to be told what they should want until they are sure that the person telling them that has full understanding and their best interests at heart.

A good broker is a consultant, and that requires listening skills and a degree of emotional intelligence, beyond subject matter expertise and experience. It's not a lot to ask for, but it's not as easy to find as one might think.
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Old 30-12-2014, 18:43   #35
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

If your prize winning broker is the one that others on this forum think it is, then I bought my current boat and sold my last boat with him. Him and his wife were extremely helpful and worked with us to find the boat we wanted, spent the time talking about what we were looking for and showed us a range of appropriate boats, and gave us valuable input on the pluses and minuses. He did show us a valiant, but understood what we didn't like about it. We had a vague price range so he showed us boats over a fairly wide range, until we saw what we wanted. He listed our prior boat and we sold and closed the deal on our old boat at a fair price within a week. He helped us with the deal, and has been available for advice since then. I think the difference maybe that we were serious buyers, with a fairly new desirable boat to sell. But when we first met I said that we were just starting to look and had a time range of immediate to one year. He still spent time working with us even though we may not have made a decision for a year. My prior boat was bought from one of the larger brokers in Annapolis, and I felt that I got much better advice and more assistance through the whole process with a Rogue.
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Old 30-12-2014, 18:46   #36
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

We had a good experience with Bob Brokaw in San Diego.

He listens which is rare in a broker.

I'd certainly recommend him.

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Old 30-12-2014, 19:20   #37
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

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Skipmac, what an awful position to be put in! your honor or your livelihood. What a scumbag boss!

Ann
I'm glad to say the decision was quite easy. I told him I would continue to give my honest opinion to all my customers. Made no ultimatum or anything dramatic, just refused to go along.

Since I was selling boats he didn't push the matter. A few months later he had a heart attack and left the business. It would violate the rules of the forum for me to say how I felt about that.
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Old 31-12-2014, 06:31   #38
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

Julie, another thing to keep in mind as you go through your process is that brokers are ethically required to represent a boat "accurately" in their listings. Of course there is a lot of leeway in that and many bend the truth.

After a boat is surveyed it's customary to revise your offer based on the results of the survey, and anything that needs to be corrected to bring the vessel to the condition stated in the listing can be deducted from the previously agreed on price. SSB doesn't work? Off comes the cost of a new SSB and install. You get the picture. That said, the seller can walk away, and you're stuck with the cost of the survey and the time you've invested. But the selling broker is going to lean on the seller to agree for a variety of reasons.

All this is just to say that the price is never the price until the smoke clears after the survey, and you have an opportunity to get a satisfactory deal on a less-than-perfect boat and have the funds to bring it to where you want it.
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Old 31-12-2014, 13:15   #39
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

As you and your partner become clearer on what you want, write down your requirements. You can tell a lot about a broker by how they deal with your list. Do they really study it? do they shine it on? (get outta there!), etc.
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Old 31-12-2014, 16:05   #40
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

Julie, to elaborate a bit on the written criteria that Ann mentioned...

We started with a short statement of intended usage of the boat, and it is crucial to be realistic about this! Don't say you need a Cape Horner when you will be doing short day sails, etc.

Then we gave some specific but general criteria: sloop or cutter rigs ONLY, no ferro or steel hulls, no timber spars... things like that.

Then a list of things that were very important to us: performance oriented design, highish SA and low L ratios, fin keel, skeg or very robust spade rudder, etc.

Then a list of add-ons that were desirable to us: HF radio, big battery bank, good charging abilities ie solar/wind, good sail inventory, etc.

And finally, the deal-breakers: no Volvos, no saildrives... whatever really turns you off in a boat.

You, of course, must fill in the blanks with your own criteria, but a systematic approach to getting these concepts in writing for the broker to see and ponder really helped us get the interaction heading in the direction we wanted. As Ann said, we actually had one fancy-office chap say "get out of here... there is no such boat and you are wasting my time"! After we found our Insatiable II, which ticked all but one of our boxes, I wanted to go back and show him how wrong he had been... but he had gone out of business by then!

Good luck in searching in the new year.

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Old 17-01-2015, 10:04   #41
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

A large fear I have is the broker who will not tell you that a prior potential buyer paid for a survey and walked away.
The second broker in Annapolis sounds like he could walk that line.


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Old 17-01-2015, 10:25   #42
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

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A large fear I have is the broker who will not tell you that a prior potential buyer paid for a survey and walked away.
The second broker in Annapolis sounds like he could walk that line.
If your broker was not involved in a prior offer he/she may not know about any previous surveys or if he/she does know about it, may not know the details.

The survey is owned by the person that pays for it, usually the buyer, and that person does not have to give a copy of that survey with anyone else including the owner of the boat and certainly not the broker.
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Old 17-01-2015, 12:11   #43
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

But the seller or selling broker would know if a survey was done. My concern is if a potential buyer paid for a survey and walked away from the boat (as I have done), that the seller/ selling broker would not disclose that fact.
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Old 17-01-2015, 12:37   #44
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

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But the seller or selling broker would know if a survey was done. My concern is if a potential buyer paid for a survey and walked away from the boat (as I have done), that the seller/ selling broker would not disclose that fact.
Yes, the boat owner would almost certainly know if a survey had been done and any broker that was involved in the previous offer would know.

Just ask the question directly. If they lie or refuse to disclose the fact then this could potentially be fraud, grounds for the broker to lose his/her license. If the broker and seller simply refuse to answer the question I would consider walking away.
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Old 17-01-2015, 12:43   #45
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Re: The Prize Winning Broker

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But the seller or selling broker would know if a survey was done. My concern is if a potential buyer paid for a survey and walked away from the boat (as I have done), that the seller/ selling broker would not disclose that fact.
I don't see why one buyer's "walk away" should be a big concern to another buyer.

People "walk away" for many reasons. Perhaps they found a better deal on another boat and so "walked away" from their initial offer by finding "fault" with the boat. I can imagine many transactions fail due to poor negotiations of offers and counter offers. Or unrealistic expectations.

Even if another survey was done, I don't see that as being proof of anything more than someone (another surveyor) had the opportunity to look over the boat and their "buyer" made some decision to walk away.

So, while it would be nice to see an earlier survey, I think it is prudent to get your own done on the boat you are serious about purchasing.

I also do not think it is the responsibility of the broker to do more than to disclose known damage, known salvage or prior sinking. But, there may be some who don't think that is their job either. Caveat Emptor!

As I understand it, the broker's job is simply to facilitate the sale of a boat, representing the seller's interest to the potential buyer, and the potential buyer's offer to the seller.

I don't expect the broker to be an expert on boat systems or condition or even sailing. I have looked at enough boats with brokers to see that they don't know everything about sailing, particular boats, or even some brands.

They are likely to have their own limitations on experience and their own biases and weaknesses as humans. And, I don't see the typical broker as "my friend" if I am the buyer. His job is to "sell me" on the boats he lists.

If I were the boat owner or seller, I would expect my broker to be an expert on marketing and "selling" my boat as quickly as possible and for as much money as possible, warts and all.

As a buyer, I simply expect the broker to:

1. Provide the buyer with basic information about the boat (age, asking price, location, equipment list, etc.)

2. Provide the seller with my offer and any questions I might have about the boat

3. Facilitate the process of inspection of the boat by myself along with my choice of surveyor, the communication of offers (and possible counters),

4. Facilitate the paperwork needed to complete the transaction between buyer and seller.

Of course this is just one point of view.
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