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Boat Buying/Selling Tips, Part 2

A fellow walked into our office last week and asked about taking one of our liveaboard power boating courses. When I asked what size trawlers or motor yachts he had handled in the past he said, “I’ve never even been on a large boat, but I’m in the process of buying a 50-footer. I was planning on taking your course next year, but since I’m buying the boat, I need to take your class NOW!”

Interestingly enough, this scenario is not uncommon. We’ve talked to hundreds of people like this over the years. After all, boat ownership is often a “dream” that casts a spell on prospective buyers. Sometimes, the allure of buying a boat can be so strong that a person decides to buy a boat before they have any practical experience on board.

Just pick up a boating magazine and take a look at all the beautiful yachts. The boaters are attractive, and the subjects look like they’re having fun. The weather is beautiful. The water is calm. Rarely do you see a boater covered in oil and laying on his back in the bilge trying to change a fuel filter that is barely accessible. That’s what we call, “the real world of boat ownership.”

Last month, I outlined a dozen questions that we often ask potential boat buyers. In the real-life case above, this gentleman wouldn’t have been able to answer any of those questions prior to purchase. So, how could he know what type and size boat is right for him? That’s the million-dollar question! That’s where an experienced yacht broker can help.

Whether you plan to buy or sell a boat in the near future, we encourage you to consider working with a licensed broker. Over the years, we’ve seen the good things that can take place with the help of a broker and — unfortunately — the not-so-good things that can happen without a broker looking out for you. This applies to both vessel purchases and sales.

If your plans for the year include a vessel purchase, here are some important considerations regarding brokers:

  • Brokers can be licensed and bonded. This helps to assure they’ll be professional and ethical in their dealings with you
  • Brokers know the market. They know what’s currently available, the prices of sold boats, the “story” behind the yacht, financing sources and sources of insurance.
  • Brokers coordinate all the paperwork involved in a vessel transaction. They know the best way to make an offer on your behalf, how to handle sales or use taxes, how to smooth out the closing process and how to make the Coast Guard documentation run smoothly.
  • Brokers can be a great help in the survey. They know the local market and can make meaningful recommendations, obtain quotes, interpret findings and lead the negotiations that may results from the survey findings.
  • Brokers are with you after the sale. They coordinate any work on the yacht that is needed, assist in finding a slip and even help in coordinating delivery of the yacht to your chosen locations.

If you’re planning to sell your boat, here are some key considerations for having a broker represent you:

  • Brokers’ knowledge of the market is an important resource. They can help price your yacht while matching your hoped-for transaction timetable.
  • Brokers have access to a multitude of tools to let the market know your yacht is for sale. They carefully assemble the specifications, photos and history of your yacht.
  • Brokers represent you and your yacht in the marketplace. They show your boat to prospective buyers and keep you informed along the way.
  • Brokers have their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace and continually keep you apprised of those conditions and how they impact your sale.
  • Brokers can help you determine the best way to make your yacht more presentable to the market.

We highly recommend a broker for sales and purchases of boats 30-feet or larger. Whether you are buying or selling a vessel, a good broker can be a life saver and can actually save you both money and headaches.

Even the most experience broker, however, is not substitute for personal knowledge and experience. Whether you take a class or charter a few times, you’ll want to do your own homework regarding various types of vessels that may be of interest to you and their values.

We will wrap up our series next month as we walk you through the actual buying or selling process, including how to make the “paper shuffle” go smoothly. Proper planning will help you avoid problems “along the waterway” of boat ownership.

This is another in a series of personal reflections about the boating life by Barb Hansen, co-founder and manager with husband, Vic Hansen, of Southwest Florida Yachts, N. Fort Myers, Fla. Southwest Florida Yachts charters luxury trawlers and sailing vessels. Southwest Florida Yachts Sales and Brokerage Services helps you find the ideal vessel for you to own. Florida Sailing & Cruising School provides live-aboard sail and power yacht instruction. Contact Barb Hansen at info@swfyachts.com or phone 1-239-656-1339. © 2013. Southwest Florida Yachts. All rights reserved.

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