We bought our boat in Mexico (San Carlos), through a broker, and it worked out pretty
well all around.
It was very close to what you've described above -- we sent a 10% deposit to the escrow company in Delaware with our first offer, counter-offered and then settled on a price
, sent the remaining $$ to the escrow company (they would send it back if we didn't end up buying the boat), flew down to look at the boat, surveyed & sea-trialled, settled on a price, signed the final paperwork with the broker & disbursed the money from escrow, got the Captain's letter, and went sailing.
The biggest plus was that was we were able to buy a great boat that was already outfitted (windvane, HAM/SSB, dinghy
w 15hp outboard
, etc) at a reasonable price, AND we were able to start cruising in the warm waters of Mexico (rather than Vancouver or Maine
, where we're from) right away.
The issue that we had -- and NOBODY would help us with the answer on this, especially not the brokers -- was how to get our "entrada" papers for Mexico. We had the former owner's entrada, with his name, the boat's old name, etc on it -- but no paperwork to explain how we ended up with a boat in Mexico! Since the sale technically took place in Delaware (that's what the Bill of Sale says), we couldn't really figure out how to get an entrada. People suggested we go to the Port Captain
and say we'd just "arrived" from San Diego
... but we weren't keen on lying right to his face, especially since we were up in the Northern Sea of Cortez!
In the end, we bought our TIP online (with the boat's new name and our names on it), and we used that when we checked in with the local Port Captains. We cruised Mexico for 2 years and were almost always worried
about a Port Captain asking for our entrada... but they never did. They were very happy to see our TIP and crew list and passports, and that was it.
Then this year, we left Mexico to sail south, and worried AGAIN that we'd be asked for our entrada when we went for our Zarpe (exit papers)... but we weren't asked. We just needed to show our last port's clearance and usual papers, and then we were issued our Zarpe, no problem.
Sorry to go on and on about this -- probably much more detail than you care to read -- but the point I wanted to make was that our lack of a legal
entry paper was certainly a big stress to us, but in the end, was not a problem at all. The officials clearly know that boats are being bought & sold, and as another poster said, it's happening in that "grey zone".
Would I buy a boat in Mexico again? Absolutely. In a heartbeat.
Would I trust what brokers say? Nope, not even for a minute. I was sorely disappointed with the brokers -- they want to make a sale and don't care very much about what happens after that.
And would I stress too much about not having an entrada? Not if you've got your TIP and other paperwork in order, and stay honest when / if you're ever asked about the boat's entry to the country.
Just my two cents!!
With Brio | Life is too short to say later. And winters suck.