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Old 22-06-2009, 14:46   #1
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Do I Use a Broker?

Hello,

I am in Deltaville, VA for a week while my son is at sailing camp nearby. My family of four (Wife and I and 2 kids - 13yo boy and 12yo girl) are planning on leaving for a year of cruising in 2010 and would like to buy a boat this summer. I thought that I would spend some time this week looking at boats as I don't have much opportunity to at home in Asheville, NC. I walked a boatyard here the other day and took down the number of a broker, called him, and will meet him tomorrow morning to look at a couple of boats.

The more I think about it the more I realize how little I know about the process of buying a boat. Do I use a broker? I don't have a lot of experience with cruising boats and I kind of like the idea of having an advocate, someone who can help guide me in finding the right boat for my family. I also understand that this comes at a cost and would obviously like to buy as much boat as I can.

What is the relationship between a buyer and broker? What is the typical percentage that the broker makes? Do I go it alone? Any advice, knowledge, guidance, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Steve T
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Old 22-06-2009, 15:55   #2
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Hopefully this doesn't sound too critical but there are many brokers who's primary concern is commission driven. While there may be many boats which could meet your requirements, perhaps understandably they will tend to drive you toward the one(s) on which they get the most money, i.e., the boats on which they do not have to share the commission which is typically 10%.

Rather than depend on some unknown broker you happen upon, you would be better served to ask around, including here, for the name of a broker who is reputable and will work on your behalf such as a buyer's broker.
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Old 22-06-2009, 15:59   #3
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Thanks for the quick answer. So I guess I should float this question. Can anyone recommend a buyer's broker? Keep in mind that we are in Asheville, NC. Charleston is the closest town on the ocean.
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Old 22-06-2009, 16:14   #4
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Thanks for the quick answer. So I guess I should float this question. Can anyone recommend a buyer's broker? Keep in mind that we are in Asheville, NC. Charleston is the closest town on the ocean.
Not Hampton Roads, Elizabeth City, the Outer Banks, Beaufort or Wilimington?

Actually, let's start with the easy one ... what are you wanting to do (sail, motorsail or motor) and what is you approximate budget including for taxes, repairs, refits and upgrades? You don't actually have to say, but it helps set of constraints.

Also, I would plan to take as long as it takes. If you rush it you will likely get some less than favorable results.
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Old 22-06-2009, 17:39   #5
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Not Hampton Roads, Elizabeth City, the Outer Banks, Beaufort or Wilimington?

Actually, let's start with the easy one ... what are you wanting to do (sail, motorsail or motor) and what is you approximate budget including for taxes, repairs, refits and upgrades? You don't actually have to say, but it helps set of constraints.

Also, I would plan to take as long as it takes. If you rush it you will likely get some less than favorable results.
Charleston is only 4 1/2 hours - the rest are 6-8 hours drive.

We are hoping to sail. Actually, the goal is to have our family experience and interact with as many cultures as possible and a sailboat is the most self-sufficient way for our family. We would be more interested in liveaboard boats than fast, shiny, racers. We tend to appreciate a classic more utlitarian design over something more plush. We would like to have space enough for two preteens to get away from each other and us. A cat would be our first choice followed by a monohull w/ 3 staterooms and 2 heads but neither is very plausible given our budget of 70k. I have that in cash and have lately been wondering about financing a little to improve our buying power.

We are planning on leaving in 2010 and it would be ideal to be able to buy a boat about a year out so we can have some time to outfit and learn it. That being said, I appreciate your advice to take as long as it takes. We don't want to rush into anything but this is something we've talked about for a number of years. It's time to make a move.
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Old 22-06-2009, 17:53   #6
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I have purchased a boat both ways. I have used my own broker and I have used the broker that has the boat listed. If you go the former route you have to split the commission 2 ways but you better trust your broker. If you go the later route I have always thought that the listing broker may be in a better position to reduce his commission to make the deal work. In either case you better know a mechanic that you can trust to do a good survey, not one that either broker recommends.
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Old 22-06-2009, 17:59   #7
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more important than a broker -- find a independent surveyor
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Old 22-06-2009, 18:01   #8
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more important than a broker -- find a independent surveyor
I have a the name of a well respected surveyor - just need to find something for him to survey
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Old 23-06-2009, 02:26   #9
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... We tend to appreciate a classic more utlitarian design over something more plush. We would like to have space enough for two preteens to get away from each other and us. A cat would be our first choice followed by a monohull w/ 3 staterooms and 2 heads but neither is very plausible given our budget of 70k. I have that in cash and have lately been wondering about financing a little to improve our buying power.
Well, you're realistic with your assessment of what 70k gets you, so thatís good. Next question: Are you looking for a coastal cruiser and intend to skitter along coast or do think you need a blue water boat because you intend to sail to Bermuda or do a transatlantic. And, while weíre at it, how much experience do you have in sailing and boat systems? Anyplace is a good starting point, but I think we can really pitch it better when we know a touch more. And you may see where I am going here. That is, if you already have foulies, type V inflatable PFDs, chart tools, hand bearing compasses, a shelf of books and 10 years of sailing you are in a different class that someone just starting out. You can also see how that can cut into your 70k.

To be honest, you're at a bit of a disadvantage because you're so far from the water. That alone will necessitate going through a broker even though, in my experience, there are more bad brokers than good. So if you are totally new, I would start with a month or two of reading everything from magazines at the library to web brokerages to whatever you can find on a construction technique. This way you get familiar with asking prices, models, descriptive copy, construction materials and so on. Add in a little Don Casey for good measure. If you are totally lost, just ask and we can throw together a list. Or use the search functions on forum.

Bene343 makes a great point about how a surveyor is important. I would like point out that you also need the surveyor to be especially well versed on your type of construction whether thatís steel, wood-epoxy, fiberglass, etc. You will also want to see some past surveys of his and, if you havenít seen a survey before, others as point of reference. There is nothing like paying a few hundred dollars for some photos and cursory report that even your insurance company wonít take to teach you to pay for a quality report for a real expert.

It's also important to keep in mind that, eventually, anywhere on a boat is going to be tight. This is very true for people not brought up on boats. I think it's also why mid-range boats have tended to grow over the years.

Finally, hereís a bit on boats. I personally think a used, well made and maintained, wood epoxy trimaran is the best value out there. People think they look odd, are too wide, hate the wood and distrust an individual to do a better job than a professional. This is even more true for the East Coast. That doesn't mean one will fit your needs (you will find them next to impossible to finance) but it's at least worth keeping in mind.
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Old 23-06-2009, 06:00   #10
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Go down to Charleston for a long weekend and scout around the various marinas in the area. Don't say too much to anyone, just get the listings from all the brokers, and photograph those for sale which look like likely candidates. Then try to find them on the web, so you can look at interior pictures and specifications, and use your common sense to evaluate them. This way you will build up an estimation of what you are likely to get for your money. Also find the names of surveyors in the area and their fees, but don't tell them you are green. It's a good time to buy a boat, but don't forget to consider the cost of keeping it somewhere for a year, and make sure they permit you to work on it wherever you keep it. Above all, do not tell everyone you want to "buy a boat." Wait until you build up some local knowledge, then return and start searching with a vengeance.
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Old 23-06-2009, 07:59   #11
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Some important points not already covered. Following the advice given, narrow down the list of possibilities and then crawl over them yourself making notes along the way. This should narrow the list down to the serious candidates. Offer considerably less than the asking price on the boat you choose. You can always raise the offer. Your offer is pending a survey. Survey's always find deficiencies. Use the survey to highlight expensive items to be repaired/ or added and modify your offer accordingly.

A broker's job is not only to sell the boat, he also has to facilitate the transaction or he doesn't get paid. Your best friend during the process is your surveyor. Note. surveyors do not assess engine condition. As previously explained, access to a mechanic's services is necessary.

One final note. buy the boat you will have use of next year. Not the boat you think you will need 5 years from now.
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Old 23-06-2009, 08:17   #12
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Contact Beth Schwartz at Triton Yacht Sales 252-249-2210 in Oriental NC. She is a native of NC and has owned seven sailboats. She will listen to your needs and help you discover what works for you. She has helped people up and down the coast find boats and will work hard for you.
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Old 23-06-2009, 08:27   #13
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Lots of gresat advice here, but I would like to add that a broker is working for the vendor, who pays his commission. Bear that in mind. I have seen ads for people who offer to help you with a purchase for a fee.

My honest advise is to get onto any boat asap and take small steps. We lived aboard for 4 years , cruising for 6 months of the year coastally before we went offshore. It has all been a pretty comfortable progression, learning as we went.

Certainly the first boat we bought was not ideal, but we sure learnt heaps. (1926 S&S)

I will also say that for 70K with a bit of knowledge you could buy a boat and circumnavigate with comfort if you are fairly handy. Thats my level of comfort by the way, no refrigeration, email, air, pressure water, 1 head, no hot water..... But radar and a watermaker.
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Old 23-06-2009, 08:40   #14
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My 2 cents

I would imagine that majority of boats are sold thru brokers. Most of your shopping will be done on yachtworld web site. A good broker will handle more boat transactions in a month that most people will see in their life time. If you do purchase a boat that is listed thru a broker, why not have the a buyers broker, the seller still pays the commission and it is no cost to you. The broker will be able to give you a quick understanding on what your 70K will purchase.
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Old 23-06-2009, 10:13   #15
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Not sure I would agree with the comments regarding who really incured the expense of the seller broker's commission. Although it may appear that expense is incurred by the seller, most sellers are realistic in their expectation that the money they ultimately pocket from the sale is reduced by the broker's commission. Consequently, most asking and ultimately agreed-upon sale prices reflect that realization.
I think it's more accurate to say that both the seller and buyer actually end up paying the broker(s).
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