As a novice buyer I would think you would benefit greatly from working with a broker. Individual boats have a lot of peculiarities, no two are identical - they will differ in maintenance status and in equipment. There is a lot to learn about boats - after almost 40 years of ownership, I'm still learning - a broker can bring his/her expertise to your purchase so you come out far ahead of where you could get on your own.
Find someone who has been in business for a long time, has a list of quality boats, and repeat customers..tell him what your interests and needs, and then listen to his advice, and let him do the footwork for you. He will be able to find and present you a number of good examples, and advise you on the whole offer and purchase process. Don't expect you'll just buy one of his listings - he should search the region or country for what will fit you best, and be a good buy.
A good broker will bend over backwards to see you get a good buy...his interest is not just to make this sale to you, but to begin a lifelong relationship. You buy a 30' through him, someday you will want to sell it and buy a 36', then sell it and buy a 44', then sell it and go back to a 30'. Those purchases and sales all represent future business for the broker if he does a good job for you on your first boat. It'll take you a few years with the boat before you know whether it was a good buy.
I know the reluctance about using a broker - he gets a fee from the sale - so sit must be more expensive. Will you save money if you buy privately? Ignoring the personal time and effort you may put in looking at junk...probably not - IMHO a novice (or experienced) buyer is more likely to overpay for what they get, than if they purchase via a broker. The most expensive boat is the one that seems a steal, priced under the market, so much for so little...should make you wonder what the seller knows that you do not!
Certified...in several regards...
Last edited by sailingfool; 02-05-2009 at 10:33 AM.