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Old 03-09-2012, 14:03   #1
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Buying a Boat is Hard

Greetings folks,
I've been enjoying the forum for few years quietly from the sidelines. I had really hoped my first post would be more of the "WooHoo...my new boat!" variety, but I'll get there eventually. Today, I'm seeking advice/encouragement on purchasing.

For my family's intents (and spouse's druthers) I've narrowed my search to current millenium model production boats...(Jeanneau 45, B473, B49, etc). I've been 'internet looking' at these boats for a while and feel I have a sense of what what they are selling for. I use NADA, BUC, Yachtworld listings, owners groups, and PMs to new owners to paint the broad price picture. I've seen it written many times on this site...the boat is worth what the buyer and seller agree to, but I think I understand the realistic market window for the models I'm looking at.

I've never bought a boat before. I've read some great posts here on the process. I want to at least appear as if I know what I'm doing to the seller or his representative. I've talked to 3 folks so far about purchasing (1 Broker, 2 Owners) and haven't gotten returned calls/feedback...not sure where (or if) I'm going wrong.

---I put some feelers out on different owners forums and got a few responses from folks who were considering selling but hadn't listed their boats. I wrote back but that was the last I heard. I write these off as folks who don't really want to sell, but were looking for Donald Trump to stumble along. The discussions never progressed to dollar figures..."Hi, I'm looking for a boat with A, B, an C"..."I have a boat with that, how much are you willing to spend?"..."How else is your boat optioned/outfitted...can you tell me more?"...crickets.

---I spoke with a broker on a YW listing via phone...I thought the phone call went well (we never really spoke $) and I asked for more info/photos. Nothing.

Seems like a strange, weird process to me. If this was a house, in my experience, the realtor or owner would be more engaging.

1) If you were a boat owner/seller/broker, what do you want to hear on a phonecall to know that someone is serious vs dreamer/tire-kicker? I've stated that I am a cash buyer. I felt like I asked intelligent questions I stated that I'm ready to buy now. Do I need to show money in order to get more photos? Is there some secret handshake that I need to know (PM me please ).

2) Although the market for these production boats is larger than many models, they are still few enough between that it entails travel to see them...like many folks, I'm busy and this is costly to me...especially given the 'flakiness' I've observed in my personal experience and what I've read here from others. I've seen other posts about offers being given before seeing a boat contingent on viewing/survey/sea trial...too off-putting? abnormal for brokers, or is this acceptable? I would consider this method because I'd like to see that 1) the seller is really interested in selling, 2) we are on the same sheet before committing to travel. Some folks may be better at ad-writing than others, but I think generally you can pick up on the nuance between a worn out boat vs a well-maintained boat with the seller language used coupled with hi resolution amateur photos. I bought a house sight unseen once...good experience. Car once...not great experience. You pay your money, you roll the dice, sometimes you win...sometimes you could've won better.

Do brokers work better with other brokers? I'm pretty sure I don't need a broker...but at times think it would likely grease the skids. I'm not 100% sure how this industry works in this regard.

Would anyone be willing to work out a soldboat data deal with me?

Does anyone know of a 3 stateroom, shoal draft, mid 40'+, more cruise ready than not, well maintained, late model boat? $200K plus/minus...

Guess that was more of a frustration vent that anything else type of post...thanks for the forum!
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Old 03-09-2012, 14:15   #2
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

In the price range that you are working with....you may want to deal with a broker that knows what you want and can do some of the legwork for you....or you can check out owners websites where the actual owner is selling the boat.

There is only so much you can see in photos....look locally first and go look at some of the models you are interested in. Things are always different when you actually see a boat, rather than just photos.
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Old 03-09-2012, 14:22   #3
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Re: Buying a boat is hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67Therapy View Post
I've narrowed my search to current millenium model production boats...(Jeanneau 45, B473, B49, etc).

...Does anyone know of a 3 stateroom, shoal draft, mid 40'+, more cruise ready than not, well maintained, late model boat?!
...aaaand there goes my sympathy. Wanna trade problems?

Seriously, I think you're the sort of buyer for whom a broker would really earn their commission. A good one should be able to find suitable boats quickly. Having a broker front for you would indicate seriousness, producing more helpful info from sellers. Once you have a shortlist of boats vetted by the broker, you could complete inspection in just one or two trips.

Good luck.
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Old 03-09-2012, 14:23   #4
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

Keep looking until you find the right broker; there are plenty of reputable brokers who will be very pleased to have your business. I've found it best to use a buyer's broker in your case, someone who will represent your interests and not the seller's.
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Old 03-09-2012, 14:45   #5
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

I think you'll fair better showing up in person. People who call on the phone are probably ten times more likely to waste time than folks who show up. The key is making yourself look serious and ready to buy. It does not mean you will but you need to "seem" like you are. Sound that way when you talk to brokers. They usually can tell if you don't.

You don't do well after you do the yachtworld drive bys and go to the owners forums. Those things prime your pump to get out there but in the end there are basic rules.

1. You can only buy something that is for sale. Seems obvious but the time of looking for theoretical boats is now all over. You need to find boats you can actually plunk down an offer on and feel good about. It's time for real boats only!

2. Don't talk to a broker about details until you have actually seen the boat. Make an appointment to go see the boat and have done homework on the Internet so you know a little bit about what you are looking at. Plenty of time for questions later.

3. Find a group of boats you can see within some period of time so you can go look at a group real boats in a reasonable amount of time. You need a few bridesmaids for this wedding you are about to attempt.

4. Use this group of boats as boats you would buy based on paper scores not having seen them. 5 boats would be nice but 2 is not enough. Next toss the scores away and go really see them. This step was to get players in the game and now it's game over. Now make a new score sheet and based on what you see decide which boats are "better".

5. Take the whole family with you if possible and don't forget that the Admiral knows an ugly boat when she sees one. You need to build a bit of family excitement to pull this deal off just as sure as you need the money. Take notes and debrief everyone after you see each boat. Make sure they all know their opinion matters.

6. Once you have the team together after crawling on the boats and asked your questions it's time time to line up the results and do the math. You want to determine based on price how much it will cost the make the 2nd best boat as good as the best boat (they usually cost more). This is your point of negotiation. Start by making the first offer on the best boat you saw knowing the second best boat could basically use the same offer.

7. This rule is only offer on the best boat for sale and have actually crawled on. Let someone else else buy a second best boat. You write the first offer as a cash deal firm price no negotiations after the survey. You'll take it or leave it based on the survey and mean it and then do it. You really make offers that are all in or all out for the very best deal. Get the deal up front not after the survey. You are paying for the survey so you lose ground if you wait. If the boat does not survey well you do not negotiate you walk away - always!

Use you prior research to have a feel where boats are selling at. Note that if you shop in Annapolis, MD you'll pay more than in the Boonies. FL boats are notorious for being neglected. You need to evaluate boats based on what you can see. There are regional price differences you have to expect but your past Internet work should be the background you use but the real offer is based on what you see and what the crew will be excited about.

I'm not a buyers broker fan. They don't do all that much for giving you real insight into boats and you still need to do all the rest of the steps after you make you list of boats to try and see. They don't get you a lower price! They force a commission split and that is not helping you with the sellers broker. Expect brokers to do paperwork for the closing and maybe a little mediation when the seller is all pissed off over something you said. You are responsible for everything so a broker won't help you there. Some brokers are actually very nice (about 20% are). 20% of all brokers sell 80% of all boats! You have to be nice to make that club. You also have to be good at what you do. Deal with it. Your seller may be an idiot with the perfect boat and the worst broker.

Try to learn as much as you can by looking at real boats. Any boat you walk on should teach you something. You might do a few dry runs with the family too. They need to get pumped up as well. Boat buying can be a fun time and you had better start now as once you get going the expectations are higher. Doing stuff with boats is fun too so make it that way and enjoy the process of find your perfect boat! Combine it with a weekend trip and make it fun!
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Old 03-09-2012, 16:24   #6
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

You're in NW FL so loads of brokers not far away (relatively). I agree, show up in person. Make a road trip down to SE FL. Maybe over to Tampa Bay and SW FL, maybe Pensacola too. Walk the docks and talk to people. The market is glutted with boats -- you'll find something.

Have you tried Massey Yachts in St Pete?
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Old 03-09-2012, 17:47   #7
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

We seem to be getting some feedback on this Forum that buying premium boats is hard.

When we see huge numbers of boats that never sell it could be that we are not seeing the wood for the trees. Maybe there aren't that many late model premium boats available, maybe they sell reasonably quickly and those owners who have them are expecting a premium price, or maybe their owners just can't bear to part with their favorite toy.

Why not go lower or higher than your current target. By lower I mean boats that may be older and need some work. By higher I'm thinking two years old or newer, demonstrator or maybe even new.

Some of them might even be for sale!
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Old 03-09-2012, 18:17   #8
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

We have spent years cruising the internet looking for a boat that would meet our needs. As our time has come closer to actually start looking at boats we walked the docks and started making calls and contacting brokers and owners will very little success. Last summer we contacted a broker to look at some boats and saw several in one day but his agenda wasn't ours. This summer we contacted several brokers and private owners in a small area and set up appointments. It really made a huge difference to be there and work with a variety of people. Ultimately we dismissed 2 additional brokers because they just seemed to be putting in time. The 3rd one really listened and wasn't trying to sell us something we didn't want. Finally met with a wonderful owner and are in the process of purchasing our first boat. It was not hard to organize a number of appointments and view a large number of boats in a short period of time. When you are willing to put in the time, so are they.

We are land locked in Montana so it requires significant travel for us to get near water to look at boats, we both work so we have small windows to accomplish a lot and we had a much smaller budget so it was hard to find someone to take us seriously. I agree, make an appointment during a week day and a broker can show you a wide range of boats, it will really help you figure out what you really want. After your first set of appointments you will really be able to narrow things down and then you will be in a better position to negotiate. If you don't like the first broker you work with, find another, find one that will listen to you and get on lots of boats like everyone has said before. Pictures don't do justice to boats.

Good Luck
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Old 03-09-2012, 19:49   #9
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

Grateful for everyones' responses. A lot of wisdom here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WebWench View Post
Things are always different when you actually see a boat, rather than just photos.
I agree. Been to the boat shows...going again in October. Even when you can "imagine" the space from photos, seeing it is better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
Try to learn as much as you can by looking at real boats. Any boat you walk on should teach you something. You might do a few dry runs with the family too. They need to get pumped up as well. Boat buying can be a fun time and you had better start now as once you get going the expectations are higher. Doing stuff with boats is fun too so make it that way and enjoy the process of find your perfect boat! Combine it with a weekend trip and make it fun!
Enjoyed your entire response...The strategy seems sound and we can give it a go...I already have a short list. I really had hoped to be able to work the list via email/phone, but perhaps you're right...too much to learn by seeing in person and too easy to be lost in the mix if you don't appear serious. I think continuing my current strategy will result in more frustration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Make a road trip down to SE FL. Maybe over to Tampa Bay and SW FL, maybe Pensacola too.
Have you tried Massey Yachts in St Pete?
We have been planning one...I think I need to step up the timeline. I haven't contacted Massey, but they were recommended to me by another friend...I just didn't see anything in their online inventory that met what I was looking for. Probably would be good to meet and then they might remember to call me something showed up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
We seem to be getting some feedback on this Forum that buying premium boats is hard.

Why not go lower or higher than your current target. By lower I mean boats that may be older and need some work. By higher I'm thinking two years old or newer, demonstrator or maybe even new.
Maybe 'Hard' was a poor description...frustrating or even intimidating, because the process is new and unfamiliar and doesn't follow the 'known' rules (real estate, vehicles)...trying to understand the ruleset. I may move up/down on the scale...not willing to join the depreciation curve at the new intersection...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 10yearplan View Post
When you are willing to put in the time, so are they.

We are land locked in Montana so it requires significant travel for us to get near water to look at boats, we both work so we have small windows to accomplish a lot and we had a much smaller budget so it was hard to find someone to take us seriously.
Good advice in your post. It seems everywhere requires significant travel...even when you live on the coast. I'm going to have to cut time out of work to make this more than an evening project.
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Old 03-09-2012, 20:08   #10
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

Here's a HONEST Broker !! Ive worked with him and he will do right by you !! Ive bought from him, and he handles all types of boats and will hunt for you !! His Name is Jeremy R. Hood At HSL Yacht Sales In Keama Texas. his Number is 832-864-2030. I believe he might have some of the boats your looking for listed, if not he will find one for ya ! Just a thought, I have nothing for sale with this fella just very happy with his honesty and fairness !!
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:47   #11
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67Therapy View Post
Maybe 'Hard' was a poor description... frustrating or even intimidating, because the process is new and unfamiliar and doesn't follow the 'known' rules (real estate, vehicles)
Actually, it follows the rules of real estate buying pretty closely. It just seems that you have run into a broker who isn't willing to work very hard. That happens, even in real estate.

Keep looking, and eventually you'll come across a broker who is willing to put in the effort.

There are a LOT of boats available in the area from Tampa Bay down to Naples. You could take a long weekend and see quite a few, if you wanted to. Yachtworld, of course, is the main place to find broker listings. You can also find a lot of FSBO boats on sailboatlistings.com. Check the craigslist sites for Tampa/Sarasota/Ft Myers/Naples and you will find a lot of boats listed there, also (though most will probably be older than you are looking for).

I would add one more caveat. Just looking at pictures on the internet can be misleading for two reasons. First, obviously, a picture (while it may be worth a thousand words) does not do a good job of conveying the real condition of a boat. Second, I have seen a number of ads where the boat looked great in the pictures, but when I went and saw the actual boat it became immediately apparent that all of the pictures in the advertisement were at least 10 years old, and the boat had been SERIOUSLY neglected in the intervening years. Some of these advertisements border on outright fraud!

You just need to get out, spend the time, and crawl around in the boats that you are interested in.

Oh, and one other thing, a corollary to the above and based on another thread on this board... Do not EVER fall in love with a boat based on pictures in an internet listing! Fall in love with the boat AFTER you have bought it. Until then remember that it is just a business transaction.
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Old 04-09-2012, 09:02   #12
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

67,
My experience, is that I would SKIP the buyers broker and once you have targeted your boat contact the sellers broker and tell them you are interested, want some specific info (whatever your concerns are) and tell them you want an appointment to view the boat. AFTER it meets your satisfaction on the visit, do the ground work to get your surveyor and then make your offer contigent on Survey, Sea Trial, etc..

you CAN do this without a Broker. Promise! Oh and you and your spouse can drop by and have a cold beer. We are up and running again on Blue Heron. ;-)

p.s. Glad you guys are close!!
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Old 04-09-2012, 09:24   #13
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

It is amazing how easy it is to sell. I've sold houses, boats, cars etc over the years and all my friends and family say "how do you do it?". It's simple, you treat every contact as if they will purchase... no matter how they look or talk... give them everything they need to make a decision. Boat brokers are probably the worst of all sales people I've ever run into. I share your frustation.
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Old 04-09-2012, 09:46   #14
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobconnie View Post
Here's a HONEST Broker !! Ive worked with him and he will do right by you !! Ive bought from him, and he handles all types of boats and will hunt for you !! His Name is Jeremy R. Hood At HSL Yacht Sales In Keama Texas. his Number is 832-864-2030. I believe he might have some of the boats your looking for listed, if not he will find one for ya ! Just a thought, I have nothing for sale with this fella just very happy with his honesty and fairness !!
Hey small world! Jeremy is a friend of mine too (although have not seen him in years). Great guy. I did not think to recommend him since the OP is in Florida.

I used to have sort of a tongue-in-check "business relationship" with Jeremy when I lived in Texas. My sailing students produced hundreds of thousands of dollars of business for Jeremy. I used to jokingly ask him periodically when he was going to pay my comission....I'm still waiting...

OP if you want to look a little further afield I highly recommend Jeremy and his crew!
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:05   #15
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Re: Buying a Boat is Hard

I think you will find that many boats are bought in spite of the Broker and Vendor, not because of .

and many sold in spite of the Broker and Buyer .


In OP's shoes I would go on a buying trip (to look at half a dozen boats) - and then get in touch with a few brokers / Vendors to see whether they can help line stuff up when you visit. If they can't help with what you want to do and when (or it just seems wayyyy too much like hard work) then give up on them early as possible and try the next one.
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