Three years of research: reading, comparing specs, making a list of wants and needs, boarding boats at boat shows, sailing on other people's boats, determining what type of sailing fits our lifestyle at this time, making a list of boats that fit the criteria and waiting for the CD in which we put the purchase money to mature. Another couple of months to narrow it down to three manufacturers. Once we decided what we wanted within our budget, it took two months and four boat visits before we found the boat we bought.
Fortunately, John trusted my judgement so I was able to do all the research myself and he entered the process when I had three types of boats on the table.
We're pretty much doing the same with our next boat. He gives me his list of requirements, I find the boat and he writes the check. Works perfectly for us.