Advise needed on dealing over price
There is no really good way to analyze the actual situation from the information that you have given. I am around a fair number of boat deals including two of my own in the past year. I have seen all kinds of differences between asking and selling prices but good clean boats are still pretty rare and are still getting higher prices than they were even a couple years back. 2001, dispite the dismal period in the wake of 9/11, saw more 30 and over new sailboats sold in this country than any year since 1986. I assume that this bode well for the used boat market.
In my two boat deals, selling my boat, I carefully researched what sister boats had sold for, what condition they were in and how they were equipped. I set a price that was a high fair price and which I considered 5% above where I thought a fair price was. I sold the boat for approximately 7% below my asking price. I had five offers on the boat all were above that figure and the deals did not proceed for reasons related to price or condition.
I also bought a boat. I actually negotiated three deals, one on a boat with sufficient problems that I did not proceed to closing after survey. On the boat I actually bought, I had again carefully researched actual sales prices on sister boats and came up with a price range that I thought was fair for the boat that I bought, in the condition she was in. I ended up paying a couple percent over figure that because I knew that there were relatively few examples of the model I wanted available and in the big picture (I intend to own the boat for a long while) that difference was not all that significant. The actual sales price was approximately 20% below the asking price.
With more readily available boats, or if you are not married to a particular model, then you can play hardball and feel freer to walk if you don''t get your offer accepted. But if you are looking at a specific boat that suits you then you need to be more willing to negotiate.
Off hand I think your broker was advising you well (assuming that 10% below asking was a fair price). As a seller you generally consider the first offer to be lower than the buyer is willing to go. So by advising you to come in with an offer 15% lower, yoru broker left you some room to deal up if you had to. Who knows the seller may have accepted your first offer? But more likely than not, a smart seller will try a first hardball counter to see if he can shake you. Depending on the actual amount of the difference between you offer and the seller''s counter, (say if it is more than a $5K difference) I would be tempted to come in just below splitting the difference. The seller might take it or he might out of general principles counter leaving you with just the wiggle room you need. Then again, if you have a good broker he''s probably sized up the situation and is giving you his best advice. It may not be perfect but brokers are no more clairvoyant than you or I.