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Old 09-12-2015, 12:11   #1
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Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

Greetings all. I've decided to buy a cruising boat in the next year or so, but I"ve never bought a boat before, and I'm trying to get a handle on the buying process. This forum has been very helpful but I guess my questions are pretty basic because I haven't found answers yet. So for you experienced boat buyers here goes.

1. From the time you were "ready" to buy a boat,(e.g.figured out the finances, lifesytle questions, etc.) how long did it take you to find and purchase her?
2. How many boats did you look at before you found the "one"? And by "look at" I mean how many boats did you actually go aboard with a broker or owner, to "kick the tires"?
3. What's the "etiquette" of going aboard to evaluate a prospective boat? Do you spend 15 minutes? An hour? All day? Quick glance around or do you immediately start hammering with your phenolic hammer, or dis-assembling the cabinetry?
4. Did you decide on one particular manufacturer/model/year then waited until you found her? Or did you have 3 or 4 different boats in mind then went with the best "deal"?
5. Did you sail the boat before the sea trial? Is yes how did you manage it? Charter? Friends? Other??
6. Did you buy locally, or out of your area? (city? State? Country?) If out of area, how was it working with remote broker, surveyor, owner?
7. If you found a boat that you liked but thought the price too high, did you follow the boat and make another offer 3 months, 6 months, later?


TIA for your help.

-Jim
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:24   #2
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
Greetings all. I've decided to buy a cruising boat in the next year or so, but I"ve never bought a boat before, and I'm trying to get a handle on the buying process. This forum has been very helpful but I guess my questions are pretty basic because I haven't found answers yet. So for you experienced boat buyers here goes.

1. From the time you were "ready" to buy a boat,(e.g.figured out the finances, lifesytle questions, etc.) how long did it take you to find and purchase her?
2. How many boats did you look at before you found the "one"? And by "look at" I mean how many boats did you actually go aboard with a broker or owner, to "kick the tires"?
3. What's the "etiquette" of going aboard to evaluate a prospective boat? Do you spend 15 minutes? An hour? All day? Quick glance around or do you immediately start hammering with your phenolic hammer, or dis-assembling the cabinetry?
4. Did you decide on one particular manufacturer/model/year then waited until you found her? Or did you have 3 or 4 different boats in mind then went with the best "deal"?
5. Did you sail the boat before the sea trial? Is yes how did you manage it? Charter? Friends? Other??
6. Did you buy locally, or out of your area? (city? State? Country?) If out of area, how was it working with remote broker, surveyor, owner?
7. If you found a boat that you liked but thought the price too high, did you follow the boat and make another offer 3 months, 6 months, later?


TIA for your help.

-Jim
Research and post on the internet. It is fun and can be helpful.

The time to start taking up people’s time by going aboard (except at boat shows) is when you are actually in a position to buy.

If you have the money and are ready to buy then take as long as you like to look at any particular boat.

If you don't have the money and/or are not ready to buy then why bother people?

The rest of it doesn't really matter much because everyone else's situation is different.

Good luck.
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:31   #3
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

Start with an understanding of they style and size of boat you want. Any popular and successful style of boat will be repeated by many manufacturers and likely be in good supply.

Second, it's a question of budget - the more money you have, the newer and in better repair your boat will be. If you have little money, you will get an older boat that is worn and probably in need of much maintenance.

I would always use a broker to buy a used boat. A broker will guide the entire process and make sure all the steps happen in the proper sequence. He'll do all the due diligence to make sure the sale happens in a legal and proper manner. In general, I prefer to deal with the seller's broker.

Remember that any boat that has been listed for longer than month is probably overpriced. Keep looking for newly posted boats. The best deals will only be available for a few days.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:02   #4
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
1. From the time you were "ready" to buy a boat,(e.g.figured out the finances, lifesytle questions, etc.) how long did it take you to find and purchase her?
First boat I bought, about a week. Last boat I bought, more than a year. So, it varies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
2. How many boats did you look at before you found the "one"? And by "look at" I mean how many boats did you actually go aboard with a broker or owner, to "kick the tires"?
First boat I bought, only the one. Last boat I bought... I don't even know. Too many to count. So, it varies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
3. What's the "etiquette" of going aboard to evaluate a prospective boat? Do you spend 15 minutes? An hour? All day? Quick glance around or do you immediately start hammering with your phenolic hammer, or dis-assembling the cabinetry?
Smallest boat I ever bought, about 30 minutes. Largest boat I ever bought, a couple of hours. So, it varies (noticing a trend here?). I would say that I have never disassembled any cabinetry, and as a seller I would be a little annoyed at a prospective buyer taking things apart. Anything that is MADE to open/lift/be removed... fine, feel free to open/lift/remove it. But if is screwed or glued down then leave it alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
4. Did you decide on one particular manufacturer/model/year then waited until you found her? Or did you have 3 or 4 different boats in mind then went with the best "deal"?
Done both. Again, it varies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
5. Did you sail the boat before the sea trial? Is yes how did you manage it? Charter? Friends? Other??
Are you talking about sailing an example of the kind of boat that you are looking for? Or are you talking about sailing the specific boat that you are thinking about buying? If the former, then once again, I have done both. If the latter, then it is very unusual for a seller to allow you to sail the boat before you've made an offer and signed a contract.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
6. Did you buy locally, or out of your area? (city? State? Country?) If out of area, how was it working with remote broker, surveyor, owner?
For me, always locally. But then, I live in Florida, so why would I need to go out of the area?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
7. If you found a boat that you liked but thought the price too high, did you follow the boat and make another offer 3 months, 6 months, later?
No. I have made very low offers, and explained why. If we can't agree on a price I move on and basically forget about that boat. I have, once, seen a boat that I had made a low offer on still on the market 9 months later, at a lower asking price; still a little high, but much closer to reality. I called the broker to ask about it and was told that the price was "firm." I told the broker to call me when the "firm" price got down to a fair price (and I told him the amount I considered fair). Broker called me about 4-5 months later saying that the owner was finally willing to talk if I was still interested, but by then I had already bought another boat.

Good luck!
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:46   #5
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

I bought my boat like you're supposed to buy real estate: location. I found the marina I wanted(six year waiting list) and then walked the marina docks looking for available boats that appealed to me. Five hundred dollar transfer fee.
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:07   #6
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
Greetings all. I've decided to buy a cruising boat in the next year or so, but I"ve never bought a boat before, and I'm trying to get a handle on the buying process. This forum has been very helpful but I guess my questions are pretty basic because I haven't found answers yet. So for you experienced boat buyers here goes.

1. From the time you were "ready" to buy a boat,(e.g.figured out the finances, lifesytle questions, etc.) how long did it take you to find and purchase her? Sometimes a month. But first boat? I would spend a year looking at boats.
2. How many boats did you look at before you found the "one"? And by "look at" I mean how many boats did you actually go aboard with a broker or owner, to "kick the tires"? Maybe 8-10
3. What's the "etiquette" of going aboard to evaluate a prospective boat? Do you spend 15 minutes? An hour? All day? Quick glance around or do you immediately start hammering with your phenolic hammer, or dis-assembling the cabinetry? If you become further interested , maybe an hour. Always take a look again another day if you are really interested.... you will notice different things.
4. Did you decide on one particular manufacturer/model/year then waited until you found her? Or did you have 3 or 4 different boats in mind then went with the best "deal"? Latter
5. Did you sail the boat before the sea trial? Is yes how did you manage it? Charter? Friends? Other?? NO
6. Did you buy locally, or out of your area? (city? State? Country?) If out of area, how was it working with remote broker, surveyor, owner? Done both. Remote brokers were fine, their recommended surveyors were marginal.
7. If you found a boat that you liked but thought the price too high, did you follow the boat and make another offer 3 months, 6 months, later? I negotiate hard when the fire's hot. But have found walking away can clear my head, and also makes a seller rethink after a couple days. The very best negotiating position is to have two boats you are interested in offering on. Tell the broker that. or have a recent similar sale that is low and use it as an example. The problem is, that most sellers think their boat is worth more than it really is... and it takes a year or more for them to finally realize that the broker mis lead them from reality or they were too proud of their boat. I sold a popular boat several years ago that all of it's kind were listed in the US at about $135-$140k. So we listed at that price. 1.5 years later I accepted $90k to sell the boat after paying moorage and upkeep for that time.


TIA for your help.

-Jim
see comments above
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:18   #7
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

The most important thing is to keep cool head and be ready to walk away - similar to real estate situation..
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:38   #8
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

Once you find a boat you like, go back home and spend half a day on the internet researching the model and builder. If there is an owners forum, you are going to find known issues to look for on that particular model, or you may even find information on that particular boat that the prior owner posted.

Find a surveyor before putting an offer on the boat. Ask the surveyor what his experience with that particular model is and if he can run a "sold boats" for you that has all of the recent sales for that model. Much like having an appraiser running comps on your home without a realtor. Go to the NADA website and get their value on it (more on that later). If the boat is listed by a broker, don't forget the broker works for the seller and is paid if the boat sells. The surveyor works for you.

Now you know what to look for and what the others have recently sold for, make an appointment to go back and look at the boat. Spend more time looking at the areas that are known issues and ask questions of the seller or broker about those items. Ask for receipts and logs if available as someone who keeps good logs and receipts will usually be more diligent in maintaining the boat.

Ask questions on forums like this which models are best for the type of sailing you would like to do, but take some with a grain of salt as there are folks who will bash certain brands only because it does not fit their needs or ideals. Owners forums and resale are big indicators.

While talking about resale. As much as you never think the day will come, the average ownership of a 30-40' boat is about 5 years. So, something to consider is even though a boat costs more now, you may not lose your shirt on it in 5 years when you sell it. Lending is a big driver of this where the cutoff is between 5-15 years for traditional lenders. Lenders like USAA will go beyond that, but most in the US will stick closely to the NADA value, which is normally lower than market or even BUC who used to be the source for lenders. Even though you may be a cash buyer, when you go to sell it, limiting to cash buyers will lower the value of the boat, not to mention time on the market.

Location is important. Boats in Florida or the Gulf States will more likely need more attention than boats on the East Coast or Great Lakes. Primarily because the East Coast and Great Lakes boats have a better chance of spending most of their lives out of water as the sailing seasons are short, whereas the Gulf boats are in the water most of their lives under the beating sun and salt air.

Best place to start is always a boat show as you can see a lot of boats in one day and the rule of thumb is to always go for the smallest boat you can comfortably stay on for the length of time you plan to be on it and built for the conditions you plan to sail it in. Going after the largest boat you can afford almost always leads to disappointment down the road unless you have money to burn. It is far easier to move up than down in size if your needs change.

When you get to the survey, ask the question separately about that here.
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:48   #9
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

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Going after the largest boat you can afford almost always leads to disappointment down the road...
Good point. I think that a lot of first-time buyers seem to fixate on, "what is the biggest boat that I can afford?" A better question to ask is, "what is the smallest boat that will fill my needs?"
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Old 10-12-2015, 11:21   #10
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

This website helps with what/what not to look for, in addition to acquiring a competent marine surveyor:
Marine Survey 101, Do your own marine survey
also this book, "How Not to Buy a Cruising Boat"
http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Buy-Cr...+cruising+boat
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Old 10-12-2015, 11:39   #11
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

In 2012, my husband and I went on a trip to San Francisco in early January. As we walked passed a marina, we discussed the possibility of retiring on a sailboat. By mid-March, we were in possession of brand new trailer sailor that we first saw when the delivery service arrived in our driveway.

Fast forward a couple of years. After using that little 18' pocket cruiser every available weekend, all weekend long except the very coldest part of the year (being Texas, we forgot to take long pants our first Thanksgiving, it was hard to stay warm through the long night). Given the opportunity to move to San Diego, we jumped, expecting to buy a boat in 3-5 years. In January 2014, within a month of my arrival, we went to a boat show that included used boats...in our price range! We made a few offers on cheaper boats that needed a lot of work, but the owners weren't ready to budge, so it took us until late April to take delivery of our Pearson 39
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Old 10-12-2015, 11:42   #12
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

It really pays to work with a yacht broker. They do all the legal paperwork, know surveyors, arrange sea trials, and act as escrow agents to protect you from getting ripped off.
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Old 10-12-2015, 11:49   #13
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

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Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
Greetings all. I've decided to buy a cruising boat in the next year or so, but I"ve never bought a boat before, and I'm trying to get a handle on the buying process. This forum has been very helpful but I guess my questions are pretty basic because I haven't found answers yet. So for you experienced boat buyers here goes.

1. From the time you were "ready" to buy a boat,(e.g.figured out the finances, lifesytle questions, etc.) how long did it take you to find and purchase her? Anywhere from two years to 30 minutes. Typically the larger the boat the longer it will take. For a cruising boat I would guess at least six months to complete the process once you have identified what boat you want.
2. How many boats did you look at before you found the "one"? And by "look at" I mean how many boats did you actually go aboard with a broker or owner, to "kick the tires"?It depends. I prefer to identify the design I want, then find the specific boat I want to buy. Which one is a function of distance from me, cost, installed toys, etc. I will then physically look at every boat of that design close enough to drive too.
3. What's the "etiquette" of going aboard to evaluate a prospective boat? Do you spend 15 minutes? An hour? All day? Quick glance around or do you immediately start hammering with your phenolic hammer, or dis-assembling the cabinetry?As always it depends. But the process isn't normally a one time thing. If you know this is the design you want, and you are specifically interested in this boat then I would spend a couple of hours doing a mini inspection, open everything, check the bilges, crank the engine (if allowed), turn on all the system's I can. If I am just looking to identify the design of boat I want then maybe 30 minutes is enough.
4. Did you decide on one particular manufacturer/model/year then waited until you found her? Or did you have 3 or 4 different boats in mind then went with the best "deal"? Start with what you want the boat to do. In my case a coastal cruiser, short weekends, and day sailor. That could comfortably sleep two couples for a weekend. At a good price point. That could be easily single handed by experienced sailers.

So we looked seriously at production boats between 36 and 40', made an offer on two Beneteaus and a Jeneau, looked seriously at a Catalina... We never got tied to a specific builder or model, because for what we are doing it isn't that important.

On the other hand if I was going blue water cruising I would seriously be looking at just a handful of manufacturers, and probably just one or two designs from each, and I would scour the world looking for one of those boats to hit the market.

5. Did you sail the boat before the sea trial? Is yes how did you manage it? Charter? Friends? Other?? If possible, but I also have a lot of experience and can get a good feel for how a boat will sail based on that and how she looks. Good pictures of the cockpit are the first thing I look for when browsing classifieds.
6. Did you buy locally, or out of your area? (city? State? Country?) If out of area, how was it working with remote broker, surveyor, owner? Unless you live in Florida expect that boat will be non-local. Remote brokers, surveyors, etc are the norm. Find a surveyor you trust and pay him to travel if necessary.
7. If you found a boat that you liked but thought the price too high, did you follow the boat and make another offer 3 months, 6 months, later?if you made an offer you felt was fair but the seller rejected it, don't burn the bridge. Let the seller's broker know that the offer is still on the table until you buy something else. It isn't uncommon to get a call a few days after the quarterly insurance and slip rental is due from the sellers's broker indicating he would now like to accept your offer. Boat bills tend to come in at about the same time, and for the seller writing the quarterly checks is often a kick in the head that he could have skipped that bill.


TIA for your help.

-Jim
All that said, on my last boat purchase I spend 10 minutes negotiating with the seller, drove six hours with a cashiers check without ever seeing the boat, and bought it without ever sailing it, or seeing the mast up.

The negotiations were really simple...

Me - "You want X, my max budget is Y(X-30%), I appreciate it isn't what you want ,but it's the best I can do. "
Him -"seriously the boat is priced fairly, I just can't go that low"
Me - "I understand your position. This isn't a negotiating tactic, your boat is already Z thousand past my budget but I thought it was worth the call to ask. Have a nice day."
Him - "Fine, but you have to get it before Wednesday, I am leaving town for a month then."
Me - "I will be there tomorrow with a cashiers check for Y.

In my case the price really wasn't negotiable. I didn't offer what I thought the boat was worth (his price really was more than fair), I offered my max budget for the boat out of the gate knowing if he turned me down I had an offer in on a different similar boat that was fairly worth less. In this case I got lucky, he was leaving the country and wanted the cash to cover his trip.
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:02   #14
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Re: Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

There are no rules. Whatever you are comfortable with. Also, a lot depends on the size and value of the boat. I've bought several boats sight unseen on the internet, some conditional on my inspection, some not.

Location is key. I like to buy in areas with a depressed boat market to get a great price. Moving a boat by water or land is not cheap, so must be considered in the price.

Timing is also important. Great bargains on freshwater boats right now on the great lakes since its winter here. Prices go up in the spring. The last week of June is the best week to buy, since around here most seasonal dock marina fees are due July 1st. No one wants to pay for a slip for a boat they don't want, so its a big incentive for the seller to accept your low offer.

Obviously, if you have little experience, you should go slow, and do lots of research. Finding an experienced friend to look over the boat with you would be best.

After 8 boats, I've never had a sea trial or test sail before buying. Bought most of them on the hard.

I just sold my most recent boat. I had 9 people come see, and took 8 people out sailing. It was too windy to take mister 9 out for a sail, but he bought the boat anyway. I took him out sailing the next day...he loved it. One nice couple came for a second look, so I told them to bring their lunch and swimsuits, and we made a day of it. One of the best sails I had all summer, they were great crew.

It's ok to buy a boat with defects, but no one wants a surprise. So do take the time and take as many hours inspecting a boat as you need. As a seller, I know if a guy is going to take the time to look in every locker, and crawl behind the engine, he is a serious buyer.

Also, don't trust brokers.
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:08   #15
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Basic (or dumb) questions about boat buying

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Originally Posted by reed1v View Post
It really pays to work with a yacht broker. They do all the legal paperwork, know surveyors, arrange sea trials, and act as escrow agents to protect you from getting ripped off.

Sorry but I will add some personal experience.

It really pays to work with a yacht broker. (90% will look to move a boat and don't care) They do all the legal paperwork (not relevant just a bill of sale) know surveyors (who will lie to make the sale happen. You are the outsider!) arrange sea trials (not hard) and act as escrow agents to protect you from getting ripped off. The escrow agent thing is huge and is worth it! All else ....


Sent from my iPhone- please forgive autocorrect errors.
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