All you need in a purchase offer is an out. (Ex: satisfied with test sail.) If you find something wrong with a boat, you can get out, irregardless of origin by saying you were unsatisfied with the test sail.
Surveys are useless, but if someone isn't willing to provide you with it when you ask as a potential buyer it says more about the seller than the boat.
Buying a boat is a crap shoot. You can buy a boat with teak decks that has zero leaks and lots of useful life left in them, and you can buy a boat with a glass deck that leaks like a sieve. Try to get as much info about the owner as you can, because that info will tell you more about the boat than the results of a survey. Surveys are for insurance companies to valuate replacement costs.
What I did was price in having to fix all the usual problems (decks, rigging, engine), and that's how I justified my lowball. We negotiated from there. Plus if you ask all the questions and they answer them, they don't know whether you're going to get a surveyor or not, so it's not in their interest to lie to you. If surveyors catch everything why are there so many situations of people fixing boat issues that they didn't foresee?
Like poker, negotiating the purchase of a boat is more about reading the person across the table than the cards.
Sorry about the courses comment, I grew up in a family of many generations of people working on the ocean. It is more important that you respect the sea and leave your ego on land than take a course about "the right way to do things". Just take your time and get to know your boat.
I digress, they wanted to know how to get a boat cheap. That's how I did it, and it worked out just fine. Most college grads can pick up sailing and boat navigation easily enough from books, youtube, and people at the dock. Why pay someone for the same thing unless you need the certificate to appease your insurance company.
Life's a dream, live it!
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