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Old 17-11-2006, 11:21   #1
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How to properly purchase a boat outside of USA

I recently found a boat outside of the USA.
The boat is located in South America and appears on paper to be the boat I am looking for. I found the boat with an American broker out of Florida who is with a large brokerage. As with any sales man this guy tells me everything I need to hear/ want to hear.
As I am aware the 'boat sales man" represents the best interest of the seller and not me.
I plan on flying to inspect the boat, have it hauled out and surveyed.. Should I bring my own guy to have it surveyed?
Is there a company that specifically deals with this type of transaction?
Does anyone have expertise with purchasing a boat outside of the US?
Is this wise?

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Old 17-11-2006, 13:34   #2
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The grass is always greener...

My experience has been that it is very difficult to buy a boat that is some distance from where one lives.
I would not rely on a good surveyor getting more than 80% of the faults in a boat. Certainly I do not think that any surveyor could advise whether the boat is suitable for immediate cruising by you. An unknown surveyor in an unknown place with language difficulties would be even more problematic.
We have no information about your proposed purchase or plans. My experience is that a boat is a money pit in my home city. I think that one could need bottomles pockets in a strange country.
Each country has a different legal system. Going to a strange country to do a financial transaction involving a lot of money is an invitation to Mr. Murphy.
Again my experience is that patience and careful attention to the local market is the key to a sound purchase.
I see that you live in one of the largest boating markets in the world. Is it totally impossible to find a boat that you like in Florida?
Brazil looks to be a great place for a holiday. Air fares are cheap. If you really want to take a look why not fly down unannounced and have a look along the waterfront. Get some scuttlebut, talk to the local yachties. And drop by and say hello to the broker just before you leave if you are still interested.

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Old 17-11-2006, 13:45   #3
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Thank you for your reply, the boat is owned by an American who sailed it to it's current home. I have to agree with you on finding a boat in Florida, however the type of boat I am looking for is hard to come by at this time and that is why I have opened up my search area.
Has anyone ever actually sold a boat from abroad orpurchased one?
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Old 17-11-2006, 14:26   #4
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I looked pretty closely at buying a boat in South Africa. In my case, I went in with a set of parallel appproaches. There were actually several boats in SA at the time that could have worked for me. My assumption was that one in particular was a turn key for me. If it was, I had planned to use a local surveyor that had been recommended by someone who lived in SA but who was not connected with the deal.

I had a line on a SA delivery skipper who knew the boat in question and could do the delivery on the boat's own bottom.

There were US state sales taxes and importation taxes to be paid once the boat was here, but I believed I could have avoided the sales tax in SA by nearly immediately shipping out of the country. I never got far enough to know for certain.

The boat was being described as being in turn-key condition. My offer would have been predicated on the boat being in that condition, and would have required the seller to pony up for any discovered corrections. Had I not found the same model in the US for a similar price and had the deal progressed further, I had planned to write a clause into the agreement that would have required the owner to make corrections before going to closing with me escrowing half of the cost as deposit should I pull out of the deal after survey, but before the corrective work was completed. This was intended to resolve the sales tax issue and reassure the owner that if he made the corrections and I pulled out, he would be in part compensated

If the boat was seriously not in turn-key condition, my intent was negotiate to lower the price to make the necessary corrections back here in the US, but also to additionally lower the price by the difference in price between having the boat delivered on her own bottom vs shipping her on deck.

If we could not come to terms, I would let that boat go and focus on several other sistership options in SA. I knew about these boats in advance but these other boats were not in as fresh condition and so would have to be shipped rather than sailed back. OTOH They were also substantially less money to begin with.

Anyway, if I ended up with an option that required shipping the boat, I had exchanged email with a shipping agent in SA who would have handled all of the necessary chores, contracting, and paper work for what seemed like a reasonable fee all things considered.

I was working through a US Broker with the idea that the good faith money would remain in the US until I surveyed the boat. I thought that if the deal broke badly at least my deposit was in the US. That said, I was extremely impressed with the SA yacht brokers that had been involved based on the brief dealings that I had with them.

In the end, I was greatly relieved not to have to go that route. In hindsight, especially after the time commitment of simply buying a boat that was roughly 600 miles away, I have concluded that the time commitment made no sense at all and the costs probably would have been in excess of what would have been reasonable. My sense is that the only case where buying a boat in that far away makes sense is if: 1 the boat is very unique, 2 it is located somewhere you want to go anyway and you would like to sail her back, and 3) the boat is sufficiently expensive (something well over $100,000 which was not my case) to begin with so that there is sufficient savings to justify the incidental expenses.

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Old 17-11-2006, 14:30   #5

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My boat was in Florida when I found her. As negotiations proceeded I discovered that her owners were Canadian, and she was a registered Canadian Vessel. In order for me to purchase her she had to deleted from the Canadian Registry and 'imported' into the USA. The import duty was 2%.

When I registered the boat in Florida, I had to produce these documents and then pay Florida 6% luxury tax.

Rick in Florida
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Old 17-11-2006, 14:50   #6
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Long distance purchases are a wearing experience. Our current boat was a 5 hour drive but it took three trips to look at it, survey it and clean it up. Then find little things that didn't make it in the survey. Nothing critical just things that come up and things that go wrong because you don't know the boat. The recent strong NW winds in October made it a wild ride home with a lot of stress on things and when you really have little experience on the boat it is a lot harder to sail even a well built one. It sailed well and with 30 plus knots of wind it really would be nice to have had more than an afternoon of experience sailing it. I exceeded all my prior experience in matter of 4 days.

It costs a lot extra to bring a boat home from far away. I think you really need to figure a reasonable travel distance to your search or expect the extra expenses even on a boat that surveys quite well. I would also plan on as many stops as practical to make up the Minor problems you will encounter. Allow extra time o you don't push yourself into a schedule you can't make.
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Old 18-11-2006, 01:12   #7
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We sold "Southbound", a Canadian built (C&C) & registered boat, in Florida (to an American purchaser). Prior to advertising, we imported the boat into the US, at a total cost (customs brokerís fee included) of something under 1% of declared market value. "Southbound" was a NAFTA boat.
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Old 19-11-2006, 19:34   #8
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If you do head down to SA to inspect & survey the boat, make sure that the surveyor that you choose is acceptable to your insurer - the Insurance Company will require a survey from a certified surveyor. Bear in mind that many marine surveyors are not certified to to survey masts & rigging, and that if the mast and standing rigging is is more than a few years old, the Insurance Company will probably require a mast survey too.
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Old 20-11-2006, 04:49   #9
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Chris, I have spoken with a number of North American buyers who purchased boats in different parts of Europe, both new and used. I've yet to hear of a single experience that a) went smoothly, b) did not cost a good deal more than originally estimated by the purchaser, and c) wasn't - to use Paul's term - "wearing". All these purchases were in a region of the world more regulated than you'll probably find in S America, and with English a more accessible langauge.

Regrettably, I think you are taking a long walk off a short pier. I would encourage you to reconsider.

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Old 20-11-2006, 08:37   #10
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Jack said:
I've yet to hear of a single experience that a) went smoothly, b) did not cost a good deal more than originally estimated by the purchaser, and c) wasn't - to use Paul's term - "wearing".
Jack, have you ever talked to anyone who has purchased a boat anywhere that did not express these same feelings? Well, okay then, more than a few?

Take a look at the people on this forum who have experienced great difficulties and expense after purchasing a boat in the U.S.

There is an article on Sailnet (two parts) written by Lin Pardey about buying a new boat and basically she is saying leave the emotions at home and "buyer beware". I think that goes double for someone buying a used boat "anywhere".

Lin points out many pitfalls of buying a boat, and although there are some specifics that relate only to new production or custom boats there is much that relates to boat buying in general.

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Old 20-11-2006, 09:00   #11
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Just trying to point out the dangers inherent in buying a boat anywhere. I think that buying a boat long distance will be much more difficult if one expects a satisfactory outcome.

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