Here are some answers from a former yacht broker who bought a boat in Florida and then sailed it out of state:
1. If the seller has listed the boat with a broker, fine go with that. If not and he is trying to sell it himself, contact BoatUS for help. They have contracts you can use and can escrow the funds appropriately and may be able to clear liens. You can also use a documentation service
like Atlantic Boat Documentation
for some of these services like the title abstract.
2. Sign a contract
before any money
changes hands. Florida yacht brokers use their own squirely contracts, so get a copy of the YBAA (Yacht Brokers Association of America) contract
(you can beg a copy on this site) and make sure that the Florida contract has all of the same provisions. The important one is the ability to walk away after the survey and seatrial for any reason. I mean any reason.
3. Title: If it is USCG documented and at 40' it probably is, get an abstract of title online from the CG site or get your documentation agency to do it for you. That will tell you who the owner is and if it has a lien. Otherwise look at the Florida state title. It will say if there is a lien against it, just like a car.
4. For any boat worth more than you could easily afford to lose, do not believe in any old (even a few months old) survey. That surveyor
has no responsibility to you unlike a surveyor
5. Both Florida and Texas charge sales tax on boats. Florida gives you 90 days to remove the boat from their waters without paying the tax. Do that and then when you get to Texas see about payiing the tax. Years ago, Texas didn't look so hard to tax documented boats purchased from out of state. With today's budget
crunch I suspect that has changed. Sales tax will run 5-6% of the purchase price
If for some reason you have to pay Florida's sales tax (say you wanted to sail it there for 4 months in the winter) then Texas will credit you for that tax when you move it there and you have to pay the difference, maybe none.
There is no state or federal inspection required to splash a boat and sail it around the world, nor any license
that you the skipper
has to carry. But your insurance
company will want to see the survey and will require you to fix any serious issues before it leaves the port where you bought it. And they may have restrctions about your own competence. Anyone thinking about sailing across the GOM should go well beyond what a surveyor might require. But discuss it with your surveyor. He will give you a list of stuff to do to make that voyage safely in addition to what he tells the insurance
If you don't have at least some blue water
experience and the capability to deal with problems and fix stuff yourself along the way, consider hiring a captain
to help you.