Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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I have had a very different experience than Davidpm with regards to brokers. I have been involved in literally scores of boat deals, both with and without brokers. Most brokers will work both sides of the deal, meaning that they try to bring the parties to a a fair middle, typically getting the seller to take a little less than they had wanted and the buyer to pay a little more than they had hoped, but put a deal together.
I have never heard of a single deal where a broker offers to buy a boat at a low ball price, and the times that I have had low-ball offers the broker presented it pretty neutrally. I don't think most brokers care whether you accept a low-ball offer or not. They may not get as much of a commission, but they get their commission much faster if you accept a low-ball.
My experience with for-sale-by-owner deals is that most owners have an unrealistic expectation of what their boat is worth based on what they see as asking prices and thier prejudice that thier boat is bettter than the other boats out there. I have almost never seen a real bargain FSBO. In my boat buying experience, I have gotten my best deals when there was a broker involved acting as a 'neutral third party' helping the Seller to understand why what I was offering was a fair price.
By the same token, when I have sold boats, I have also had brokers work a low-ball offer up to a fair price by presenting my case to a buyer. That included a case where I had my boat for sale without a broker and I was selling the boat an asking price just above what I wanted out of the boat. A fellow came in with a low-ball offer which I rejected and countered with what I wanted out of the boat. The guy went ballistic on me accusing me of bargaining in bad faith and not wanting to ever sell the boat.
I later listed the boat with a broker, and the same guy bought the boat. He went to my broker, and started with the same low-ball offer, but with the help of the Broker, he showed him similar models that has sold recently and what they sold for, and showed him what a boat at his offer price looked like. I ended up selling the boat to that guy at a price equal to my original counter offer when I was a FSBO plus the broker's commission fee.
I think that the whole buyer broker thing is a load of hoey. If you go to a decent broker, he will work for his perceived client. If you are a buyer, he will work for you. If you are a seller he will work for you. Either way his goal will be to make a fair deal at a reasonable price and in a reasonable time. No matter who he works for he gets the same commission.
In the end, whether there is a broker involved or not, the key is to look at a lot of boats of a similar type and get a sense of what they look like condition, outfitting and asking-price-wise. Normally, boats are priced 15% to 20% over the average sales price to leave room for bargaining. These days there are some pretty unrealistic asking prices out there so that the purchase price may be 75% or less of the asking price.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay