I have no axe to grind here, but recently bought a boat in San Francisco while working in Dubai. The fact was that the only boats on offer of the type I wanted were in the states.
I had a pretty good idea of the boat's condition from a lengthy correspondence with the PO, and having shown a definite interest in buying the boat I asked him if he would mind having a survey done at my expense.
He did not object having realized from the correspondence that I was serious. (In fact the very act of paying for a survey indicates a serious approach I guess.)
The air fare was $2000, and the survey fee from an accredited surveyor was $500.
For me this was a no-brainer and after the successful survey I committed, paid the deposit, then went to SF to complete, and pack up the boat for transport.
I made a good friend of the PO, and my boat arrives tomorrow!
OK - I took something of a risk buying the boat unseen except for photographs, but the survey was my insurance.
All round success so far. (The boat's still to be craned off the container ship and motored round to the marina for mast stepping.. fingers crossed)
Aspire to inspire before you expire !