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Old 05-08-2013
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Re: Am I out of line on my boat offer?

I think Minne and Mike gave you great advice. You can't just knock off a certain percentage from the asking price. Some boats are listed by families where the primary sailor has passed away or is injured and can't take care of the boat any more. They just want it sold, so they price it at a very fair price. If you're the first to stumble onto it and then give them a low-ball offer, you may lose out. By contrast, there are other boats out there that are listed WELL above a reasonable value, because the owners have strong emotional ties to the boat, and they tack on the cost of every nickle-and-dime improvement they've made over the 20 years they owned the boat. IMHO, your best bet is to find some rational basis for your offer. I know of two sources for this: NADA, and BoatUS. NADA is free, and some here have suggested that the prices may not be the most accurate, though from what I saw when I was shopping over the winter the prices aren't off by much. BoatUS is also free, but you have to give them your name, contact info, the boat make, model, and year, etc., and then they will get back to you with the average selling price. I don't know where NADA gets its statistics, but it does seem to be a lagging indicator (that is, it takes time for things like Hurricane Sandy to impact the statistics they use). BoatUS appears to use the data provided by its insured as to the actual purchase price paid for the boat, and I believe they tie in geography as well, so their statistics tend to be a little better. What I tended to do was to review the NADA first, to get a sense for whether the boat is fairly priced or not. If it's way out of line, I learned not to bother. Too low means there's likely something wrong (unless the pictures told a different story) and too high means the seller is attached and won't let it go. If the price is reasonable, and if it really looks like a boat I'd consider making an offer on, then I'd contact BoatUS to get an estimate.

Once you know what the fair price is for that boat in average condition, you can then add/subtract based on whether you think the boat is actually in average condition or not. Be sure to factor in things like radar, air conditioning, etc., especially if they are important to you. They are an expensive add-on. Now, by the same token, if those things don't mean anything to you, you don't have to factor them in, but you may wind up waiting longer for the next boat to come along.

You have a fair budget (mine was $6,000); I'm sure you'll find something, you just have to be patient.
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