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Old 07-01-2016, 11:43   #1
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Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

I think I have seen a similar thread before but haven't found it in my searches. We are planning on buying a 32 - 38 ft monohull in the Pacific Northwest this fall and the thought occurred to me that there is likely someone out there that is planning on selling their boat at the end of the season and maybe we could save/spend a little less money leaving a broker out of the equation. Here is how I see it working:

First, the boat would be a later model production boat such as a Catalina 36, 350, 355 or similar. Price, including any needed upgrades to be less than $150K. We have no plans to take the boat on any ocean passages so creature comforts at dock and anchor probably win out over blue water capabilities. We live in Arizona so not very convenient to do a lot of work on the boat ourselves.

Ideally, we would find a nice boat in early summer, plan a trip up during sailing season to see the boat, meet the owners and take a short test sail. We would then reach a gentleman's agreement to purchase the boat at the end of the season, at an agreed upon price, following a full survey. The agreement would be verbal with the full understanding that either party could back out for any reason with no obligation. In return for showing us the boat, we would bring beer or wine and/or would take the owners out to dinner while we were there.

Am I being to naive to think this is a workable plan? Devil's advocates please step up!
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:57   #2
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

We are over the sailing "season" here since October so I am not sure I understand which season you are going with. You must mean next fall. I am not sure I would buy a boat now and only take final possession fall of 2016. Too many things can happen and then whose fault is it, etc.

We essentially did this in fall of 1999. The boat was owned by a Canadian and we were in Colorado. We took a trip to the PNW to research boats, marinas, and the area in August. Found the boat in a classified ad. Emailed back and forth. Met with the owner, went for a short sail, wrote up a basic contract, gave him a deposit, all contingent on a survey. Survey went fine in October and we took the boat in late November and moored it in Anacortes.

I can tell you that we were very nervous about sending that much money to a stranger (basically), with no 3rd party escrow, on a hand shake and a contract that would be very hard to enforce if needed. It all worked out.

If I were doing it again I think I would consider a 3rd party escrow/settlement/documentation service. It would cost you a few hundred dollars but they can handle the paperwork for you and hold the money until the deal is done. I would definitely want a written contract in any case. I am a pretty trusting person and a pretty good judge of character and raised "old school", but a contract is easy (find a suitable one online).

We bought our last boat from a broker in Seattle and they/we used an escrow service there - Pacific Maritime Title. They don't really provide a "title service" exactly like you would with a house purchase but they can do a USCG check for liens. You can do that yourself though. There are fees for different things. They did a good job for us and held the deposits and cleared the final payment, etc. Pretty easy. The broker actually held the deposit in an escrow account but they were very reputable.

Actually, that brings up the issue of brokers - not all of them are as honest or as good as most of them are.

There are always some boats for sale by owners but not nearly as many as through brokers. Many sellers will offer without and then go with a broker if it doesn't sell as quick as they would like. You might also contact some of the charter companies to see if they know owners who would like to sell.

Good luck.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:03   #3
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

I think it would come down to how much the owner needed/wanted to sell. I actually considered something like this, but if the deal didn't go through then I would have been stuck paying all the winter moorage fees etc which would probably eat up what a broker would have.

But if you could make it work , it sounds like a sweet deal for all involved...
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:15   #4
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonbat View Post

First, the boat would be a later model production boat such as a Catalina 36, 350, 355 or similar.
Am I being to naive to think this is a workable plan? Devil's advocates please step up!
Not naive to think the concept might work.

The issue I see is that the boats you just listed are as different as night and day.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:30   #5
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
We are over the sailing "season" here since October so I am not sure I understand which season you are going with. You must mean next fall. I am not sure I would buy a boat now and only take final possession fall of 2016. Too many things can happen and then whose fault is it, etc.
My thought is not to buy the boat now but rather to "find" the boat some time starting in late spring and going through summer, including the initial meet and greet and give the boat a quick once over. No money would change hands then but we would have a verbal "agreement in principal" that would include a sales price subject to conditions. Toward the end of the seller's season, we would go up and give the boat a more thorough look. If all was well, we would sign the agreement, place a deposit and follow through with the survey and purchase.

If it is late in the season, we might even have the survey haul out done at wherever we are going to store the boat for the winter and then not relaunch her. Hopefully, though, there would be time enough for some fall sailing as it doesn't get pleasant down here until late October.

The advantage to the seller is not having to pay a broker and go through all the listing hassles when they would rather be sailing. The risk would be if I walk away from the deal, they would get a late start in the whole listing and sales process and might have to pay for moorage until spring. That risk might give the seller incentive to come clean with any problems that the survey is going to discover.

The real hard part is finding a willing seller with just the right boat!
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:36   #6
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

I don't see why it wouldn't be workable, but as the seller I would have an issue with this part:

Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonbat View Post
The agreement would be verbal with the full understanding that either party could back out for any reason with no obligation.
That means you can change your mind at the very last minute, leaving me, as the seller, with nothing except for the costs of starting the process over and keeping the boat that winter.

Personally, I wouldn't 'hold' my boat for someone who may or may not end up buying it.
I would, however, do so for someone willing to actually commit and give me some sort of guarantee the boat is actually sold (pending survey).

(I'm in the Netherlands, and I'd guesstimate at least 1/3 of the boats being sold change owners w/out a broker involved.)
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:39   #7
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Not naive to think the concept might work.

The issue I see is that the boats you just listed are as different as night and day.
That is not an issue! That is part of the fun of boat shopping. I think our current boat is the only boat we have ever bought with the mind set that this is the exact model boat we want. All of the others have fallen within a broad range of possibilities. We have an agreement that each of us has absolute, no questions asked, veto power when buying houses and boats! It has served us well for 38 years.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:48   #8
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

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Originally Posted by Lizzy Belle View Post
I don't see why it wouldn't be workable, but as the seller I would have an issue with this part:



That means you can change your mind at the very last minute, leaving me, as the seller, with nothing except for the costs of starting the process over and keeping the boat that winter.

Personally, I wouldn't 'hold' my boat for someone who may or may not end up buying it.
I would, however, do so for someone willing to actually commit and give me some sort of guarantee the boat is actually sold (pending survey).

(I'm in the Netherlands, and I'd guesstimate at least 1/3 of the boats being sold change owners w/out a broker involved.)
I think for this to work, the seller would not have actually started the process so has little to lose except an afternoon showing the boat.

Having family in the Netherlands and having been there, I would say it is a little easier to put buyers and sellers together there without a broker. Distances are small and the people are the most practical we have ever met.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:02   #9
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonbat View Post
My thought is not to buy the boat now but rather to "find" the boat some time starting in late spring and going through summer, including the initial meet and greet and give the boat a quick once over. No money would change hands then but we would have a verbal "agreement in principal" that would include a sales price subject to conditions. Toward the end of the seller's season, we would go up and give the boat a more thorough look. If all was well, we would sign the agreement, place a deposit and follow through with the survey and purchase.

If it is late in the season, we might even have the survey haul out done at wherever we are going to store the boat for the winter and then not relaunch her. Hopefully, though, there would be time enough for some fall sailing as it doesn't get pleasant down here until late October.

The advantage to the seller is not having to pay a broker and go through all the listing hassles when they would rather be sailing. The risk would be if I walk away from the deal, they would get a late start in the whole listing and sales process and might have to pay for moorage until spring. That risk might give the seller incentive to come clean with any problems that the survey is going to discover.

The real hard part is finding a willing seller with just the right boat!
If it were my boat, and if I were serious about selling it, no way would I tie it up with a gentleman's handshake agreement for a long time such as you envision. I, and you, would be at risk of losing out to other buyers (who might pay more, or might pay less but be more certain). People are notorious to start selling and then deciding not to just a few weeks later. I have seen this personally in the few months since September with two boats owned by friends of mine. If you had this "agreement" with them you would have lost out on any deals that might have surfaced if you had continued looking. And if you reserve the right to cancel because you found a better boat or deal what would the seller get out of that except lose out from finding a "real" buyer.

Sorry, after you have said all this, I would say it wouldn't work, or at least shouldn't with anyone who knows what they are doing and are serious. If you had a special relationship with someone who had a boat they might be willing to do it. If a seller asked me whether they should do it with you I would suggest to them that they really don't have anything to gain and much to lose.

It would be fine for you to approach a seller and have a sail but if you weren't willing to have a survey on your nickel and have a contractual obligation to buy that seller should say "If I haven't sold the boat by next October (or whenever) then make me an offer then." The purchase we made was set in concrete after the survey and our agreement to buy. The seller would not have "held" the boat for us and I would not have expected him to. And if he sold it before I was ready then I would have wasted my time in that time and might or might not be able to find another I liked as much for the same money.

I don't mean to sound too harsh or negative but I can't see why a seller would do that.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:14   #10
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

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I think for this to work, the seller would not have actually started the process so has little to lose except an afternoon showing the boat.
A boat he was holding for a seller who says 'no thank you' just before winter ...
I wouldn't take that risk, personally, if I were serious about selling (and why would you agree to buy a boat from someone NOT serious about selling?).

The problem with the idea as it stands now, it that the agreement isn't a real agreement. Just an "I might buy it, or maybe not. We'll see."

That's fair enough, but you don't need an agreement for that. You can tell any seller you might still be interested at the end of the season, and just see if the boat is still for sale at that point.
Which is pretty much what the whole idea comes down to anyway ...
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:21   #11
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

Why not just start looking in summer, make a list, meet the owners and go for a series of test sails? Then buy the one you like. It will probably be the end of 'sailing season' by that time anyway. I put that in brackets because sailing season, for me, starts in fall.
Here are a few boats being sold privately in Washington;

Washington sailboats for sale by owner.

Best of luck,

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Old 09-01-2016, 12:03   #12
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

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Originally Posted by Lizzy Belle View Post
A boat he was holding for a seller who says 'no thank you' just before winter ...
I wouldn't take that risk, personally, if I were serious about selling (and why would you agree to buy a boat from someone NOT serious about selling?).

The problem with the idea as it stands now, it that the agreement isn't a real agreement. Just an "I might buy it, or maybe not. We'll see."

That's fair enough, but you don't need an agreement for that. You can tell any seller you might still be interested at the end of the season, and just see if the boat is still for sale at that point.
Which is pretty much what the whole idea comes down to anyway ...
I think you have it pretty much nailed and there is probably a 90% chance that we will end up just going up, looking at several boats and buying the one that sparks our interest. On the other hand, maybe there is that owner out there that isn't interested in going through the listing process over the summer and wants to discuss something with us ahead of time. You never know until you ask and asking doesn't cost you anything.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:56   #13
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

"Money talks, BS walks"
I like the "gentleman's agreement" part.

If it were me and my boat, I think I'd pass on your generous offer.
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Old 09-01-2016, 14:02   #14
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Re: Agreeing now to buy a boat in PNW at end of season

What got me thinking about this whole "scheme" was my father. He is considering buying a side by side ATV and selling his two quad atv's. I told him he should sell his quads first and he told me that they had a neighbor who already wanted to buy them whenever he was ready to sell. The neighbor had already bought one quad from my dad and wanted to buy from someone that took care of his machines. I thought that was cool and started wondering why it wouldn't work with a boat. The only problem is we haven't spent enough time up in the PNW to get to know the boat owners so a forum like this is our only way of getting the word out.

As you say, money talks, but discussions ahead of money changing hands never hurts anyone.
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