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Old 11-04-2019, 10:13   #1
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Buying from owner after working with broker?

I have been working with a buyer's broker (he has only been sending me links) but we haven't been making any progress on finding a boat yet. Today I talked with an owner of a boat I found on my own and I want to move forward on purchasing from them.

The owner isn't interested in using a broker since they don't wish to pay the fees.

The way I see it I have 3 choices.

1) pass on the boat
2) pay my broker myself to work the deal
3) work with the seller and make it happen ourselves

What is the proper etiquette here? The broker hasn't spent much time with me at all but I did shake his hand and ask him to find me a boat.

Do I need the help of a broker for a foreign flagged multi hundred thousand dollar boat that I want to bring to the US?
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:18   #2
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

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Originally Posted by crayiii View Post
I have been working with a buyer's broker (he has only been sending me links) but we haven't been making any progress on finding a boat yet. Today I talked with an owner of a boat I found on my own and I want to move forward on purchasing from them.

The owner isn't interested in using a broker since they don't wish to pay the fees.

The way I see it I have 3 choices.

1) pass on the boat
2) pay my broker myself to work the deal
3) work with the seller and make it happen ourselves

What is the proper etiquette here? The broker hasn't spent much time with me at all but I did shake his hand and ask him to find me a boat.

Do I need the help of a broker for a foreign flagged multi hundred thousand dollar boat that I want to bring to the US?
Well, or option 4, where you work out an equitable solution for the broker.

I'd be tempted to reimburse the broker for the time spent, and do the deal on my own with a clear conscience, or pay him directly to help you get the deal done. I mean, a deal of that size, the broker could probably help you get the paperwork done.

If you signed an agreement, this should be spelled out. Otherwise, let your conscience be your guide.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:18   #3
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

Is the for sale by owner now?
You could offer the broker a fixed amount to help make things close smoothly.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:21   #4
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

Sounds like you have an agreement (contract) with the broker. Usually part of that deal would be some sort of exclusivity clause.

Without knowing more about your actual agreement, Iíd say you would be in breach of the contract if you cut the broker out. And besides that, it seems like an ethically dubious move.

Perhaps your broker is willing to accept an alternate arrangement given what you state, but I think it would be unethical, and possibly illegal, to simply cut her/him out.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:32   #5
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

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Sounds like you have an agreement (contract) with the broker. Usually part of that deal would be some sort of exclusivity clause.

Without knowing more about your actual agreement, Iíd say you would be in breach of the contract if you cut the broker out. And besides that, it seems like an ethically dubious move.

Perhaps your broker is willing to accept an alternate arrangement given what you state, but I think it would be unethical, and possibly illegal, to simply cut her/him out.
There is no written agreement. I met him in person in his office and then it's just been email correspondence.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:37   #6
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

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There is no written agreement. I met him in person in his office and then it's just been email correspondence.
An agreement/contract does not have to be in writing. Although, as this situation amply illustrates, it is always better to put things in writing. But a verbal or electronic agreement is still an agreement, and can be an enforceable contract in most jurisdictions (itís just a lot harder to prove).
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:41   #7
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

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An agreement/contract does not have to be in writing. Although, as this situation amply illustrates, it is always better to put things in writing. But a verbal or electronic agreement is still an agreement, and can be an enforceable contract in most jurisdictions (itís just a lot harder to prove).
I guess I understand that for a seller but a buyer? Seems a stretch but I do agree that if something happened such as the broker bringing a boat to me and I try to work directly with the seller and bypass the broker. That would clearly he wrong.

But as a buyer if he hasn't brought any boats to me to buy and I find one on my own, certainly that isn't a big issue. I do plan on reaching out to the broker to discuss though.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:44   #8
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

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I guess I understand that for a seller but a buyer? Seems a stretch but I do agree that if something happened such as the broker bringing a boat to me and I try to work directly with the seller and bypass the broker. That would clearly he wrong.

But as a buyer if he hasn't brought any boats to me to buy and I find one on my own, certainly that isn't a big issue. I do plan on reaching out to the broker to discuss though.
As someone else said, let your conscience be your guide. You appear to know it would be unethical to simply bypass the broker. But as I and others have said, a reasonable accommodation is likely possible.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:52   #9
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

First, contract/agreement rules.

But without contract, if you told a broker (presumably a "seller's broker", who has boats listed), that you are interested in a boat, he would be a prudent businessman to present you boats he has listed that meet what he perceives to be hat you are seeking. He may also present you with boats not presently listed by him (either listed with other companies thru MLS or from owners who he know are wanting to sell, but have not listed with an agent). With either of these scenarios, I would feel he is acting as "my agent".

If on the other hand I was walking docks (or online) and found boat "for sale by owner", then I would not feel compelled in the least that "broker" was involved in this deal.

However, you may find value in asking broker to act as your agent for $xyz fee to advise you on pros/cons of this boat as well as value. He could give an independent view of boat even before (but not in place of) a boat survey. He could also assist with paperwork. Thus earning his fee.

Good luck!
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:20   #10
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

I see no ethical problem here at all. You have no written contract with the broker. Did you ever say anything to him to indicate that you were going to work with him exclusively? Or did he say anything about exclusivity to which you agreed? If not, then he has no claim on the sale of a boat that you found entirely independent of him.

Think of it like dating. If you are dating some woman, but no one has ever said anything about exclusivity, you may not like it, but you have no room to complain if she goes out with some other guy (or vice versa).

That said, a broker can be a big help in making sure that paperwork is handled correctly, that escrow is handled correctly, and so on. With a "multi hundred thousand dollar" deal, I would want either a broker, or a lawyer familiar with these issues, making sure that my backside was well covered. You might want to work out a flat fee to pay your broker to handle that aspect of it.

Good luck.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:32   #11
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

I would look very closely at any contract you've signed with your Buyers Broker. They tend to work 'exclusivity' clauses in their contract.

1) Draft a letter officially dissolving your relationship.
2) Mail the letter Certified (this should ensure the recipient signs for the receipt of the letter).
3) I would consider waiting for one calendar day after verification of delivery (Delivery receipt in hand)
4) Now enter negotiations for your private sale.

Anything short of this and the buyer's broker will have a right to come after you for their percentage.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:57   #12
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

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I would look very closely at any contract you've signed with your Buyers Broker.
He already said that there is no written contract.
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Old 11-04-2019, 13:14   #13
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

Since the broker is a buyer's broker you are responsible for paying him if you use him to buy the boat. You should be able to negotiate a reasonable fee with him for that. If he won't negotiate walk away but don't expect him to help you. Seeing the complexity of the transaction would want someone taking care of the paperwork, whether it's the broker or an attorney is your choice.

Since the broker has had nothing to do with your finding this boat, you have no obligation to pay him for anything. If you get him involved in the sale, he will have done work for you and deserve to be paid for his services. A good broker isn't a nice guy who buys you drinks in the bar but someone who can save your butt by insuring that paperwork is done properly, supplying you with names of qualified professionals, and giving you 3rd party advice that may make you aware of issues you haven't thought of.
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Old 11-04-2019, 13:22   #14
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

A contract with a buyerís broker is an agreement that generaly says they will act on the buyers behalf for any sale during the contract period.

Exclusivity is a standard clause in any broker contract Iíve ever seen, be it boats or real estate. Anything is negotiable, but outside of an agreement to the contrary, industry standard practice will prevail in any legal discussion. And as I said, a verbal agreement can still be a binding contract. Itís just a lot harder to enforce.

Now, whether you think itís OK to renege on a verbal agreement is up to you and your conscience.
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Old 11-04-2019, 13:31   #15
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Re: Buying from owner after working with broker?

I passed on the boat. It's a bummer because it looked like the right boat but at the end of the day, I'm just not sophisticated enough to do the purchase/import process on my own with confidence.

I did speak with my broker (he's a great guy) and he couldn't represent me since he works for a brokerage company. He told me that I certainly could go it alone but explained the risks and in the end, I agree. I just don't know what I don't know.
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