One perspective that was not yet mentioned, brokers of all types will want to avoid putting anything in writing. Email
is notorious for getting people in trouble. Salesmanship is an art form with overlapping skills such as the arts of seduction, showmanship, and bovine waste management (!).
A "good salesman" means different things to different people, whether you are the brokerage's owner, lawyer, the seller, or the buyer.
Unfortunately for buyers, the easiest route
for brokers is to do as little work as possible and to make potential buyers commit as much effort (time=money) & emotion in a potential purchase
I see uncanny parallels between the housing market and the boating
market. Both were inflated by an absurd supply of credit, as well as an aging baby boomer population. Each year a reversal of the demographics exacerbates the market bubble correction. As the baby boomers (population bubble) grew into their purchase
years, the demand on boats and real estate (2nd homes!!) spiked but now boomers are retiring, going to heaven, and selling off. There are less potential buyers, there is much less money
around. All of the boats must get sold or disposed of according to new regulations
(i.e. boats becoming worth less than 0).
The differences between real estate and boats are also clear - noone needs a boat, a house is not destined to being worth less than 0, especially when the underlying real estate is owned.
They way things are structured, boat brokers simply aren't working for the buyer. Why are real estate agents the way they are? The seller pays the broker, so listing agents don't need to do any further work.
Long story short, you might want to find a "buyer's broker" and maybe even sign a limited agreement with him. This broker would do the legwork for you, in return for a 50% share of the selling broker's fee. You might want to limit your universe to "corresponding brokers", or have your agent get something in writting from the seller.
Understanding each parties incentive can help. "Trust but verify".
Ultimately, the longer you can wait, the better deal you can get is my opinion for the forseable future. Unfortunately this also means that your eventual sale
of whatever vessel you purchase may likely yield less of a recovery in today's reality.