Selling or buying a boat? Here’s what a good broker will do for you

So why use a broker?

Buying or selling a boat is a big deal. Whether newbie or experienced yachtsman it’s important when considering buying or selling that you come to the marketplace well armed.

I’m going to break this up in parts. Below is part 1, the Introduction. Part 2 will focus on buyers. Then Part 3 will focus on sellers.

Part 1: Introduction

Good brokers love what they do. They love boats. They probably own one themselves, and they probably have years of experience behind the wheel or at the tiller. They like ‘boat’ people. They enjoy meeting like-minded individuals, those who get a sparkle in their eye when they talk boats, whether their own, someone else’s, or the one they’re thinking of getting. Just why it is that people get excited about boats in such a visceral way is the subject of other posts, but suffice to say boaters are an enthusiastic group!

Good brokers feed off this enthusiasm, and when you toss in their own passion for all things waterborne you’ve got a potent mix encompassing a trove of useful knowledge from which any buyer or seller will benefit.

Brokered transactions are more secure than informal proceedings between buyers and sellers. If you want to buy a used canoe or a small skiff you can go eyeball the thing, ask a few questions of the seller, haggle the price, strike a deal and off you go. But if you’re after something bigger, there’s going to be more money involved. Maybe lots more. If you’re a buyer, you need a way to check things out thoroughly with at least a qualified mechanic but better yet a professional surveyor. You need to arrange financing, insurance, registration/documentation and dockage or storage. Maybe you need some training to refresh your skills especially if you’re moving up. You need to trial run the boat out on the water and put her through her paces. And after all that you need to be able to walk away before you accept the vessel if you’re not satisfied with any aspect of the deal. A good broker will see that all this and more is accomplished in order to protect your interests.

If you’re a seller, you want to make sure your boat gets seen, and better yet, stands out in a crowded market. You need to know what the fair market value is for your boat. Note that this figure does not equate to what others are asking for similar boats. Fair market value represents what the current market in your geographical area will likely bear.  This ‘sold boat’ data is not available to the general public. Brokers have access to it, and good brokers will put together a detailed comparative market analysis on your boat so you know exactly where you stand. Then, as you get prospective buyers, you don’t want to waste time with tire kickers. You’re not in the business of giving free boat rides. You want some assurance that a potential buyer is serious. You want some type of deposit held in escrow as ‘earnest money’ as an instrument of that buyer’s commitment. To best protect your interests, you need a legal, professional, iterative and documented process to which both buyer and seller agree. A good broker will take care of these details and help ensure the process runs smoothly, keeping you fully informed every step of the way.


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