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mm2712 08-28-2009 10:22 PM

Used boat prices
I am looking to buy a sailboat in the near future and am not sure where to go to determine if it is priced appropriately? I have used - N.A.D.A. Boat Appraisals but the listing prices seem much higher. Is there a better site to determine prices?

davidpm 08-28-2009 11:19 PM

Many people use New and Used Yachts for Sale - Just remember that the offer price is almost always higher than the actual sold price. The condition and what is included can affect the price a great deal. A 20 year old Catalina 30 in decent condition can be 10,000 or less if worn with an atomic 4, and as much as 15 to 20,000 if it is in great shape with maybe a new engine, good sails and and a dink.
You will see huge differences in price.

If you confine your search to the same model and approximate age you will quickly get a feel for what is a reasonable price.
If you are looking at many different brands you have to look at a lot more boats to get that feel. A Sabre will always fetch more than a Catalina for example, age condition etc being about the same.

Once you get a little more serious and you "loose" some boats your broker can go on (you need an account) and tell you what the boat you looked at actually sold for. This is not gospel however as many brokers are known to fudge numbers and with the complexity of the trade-in's and fancy deals the actual reported price may not always be as it appears.

Whatever else you may be an expert at, cars, houses etc. this is the same in some ways but different enough to take significant time to be good at identifying a bargain.

No book or website will do more than just give you a very general idea of where the price should be.
The condition and gear varies so widely from boat to boat you have to get to the point where you can do the calculations yourself.
And this is just the objective easy stuff to figure for example.
Boat A: +5,000 for 3 year old engine -6,000 for beat sails
Boat B: +3,000 for 1 year old canvas and cushions -2,000 for hacked wiring

Then you could figure the subjective stuff like:
I call this stuff subjective because someone else may weight things differently depending on what they like, intended use and skills.

Boat A: shoal keel +2,000 PHRF above 180 -1,000
Boat B: Fractional Rig: +1,000 Trashed interior +4,000

The plus 4,000 for the trashed interior is because the bad interior is reflected in the price. For me since I'm going to cruse with only two people I plan on making changes anyway to create more storage space. I'm a skilled wood worker so for me a boat with an interior that needs work is less of a problem than to most people.

This is just an example of a subjective calculation.

The bottom line however is that after all these calculations once you fall in love with a particular boat you will mangle the numbers until you convince yourself the boat is a great deal and the only question left is how to pay for it.
The heart usually wins over the head.
There are some tricks to try to overcome this problem but they are not 100% effective.:(

mm2712 08-29-2009 03:10 PM

Thanks for the informative reply, I have been looking for sometime now and could not believe the difference in prices it what seems to be comparable boats. These prices were much higher than the site that I was using to determine a base. I guess I was used to Kelley Blue Book for cars where there was not much that would change the base that much. I will give Yacht World a try and see if that will help to determine if the boat is priced reasonable or not to start with and go from there. Again thanks for the response.

k1vsk 08-29-2009 04:34 PM

Ask your broker (or find one) to give you a printout of actual sale prices of similar boats, in similar condition in the general area you are shopping which is a far better indicator of market value. Yachtworld or are the only realistic sources of this info.NADA and/or BUC values are typically under-priced although it varies and are generally considered as wholesale prices only.

davidpm 08-29-2009 09:41 PM


Originally Posted by mm2712 (Post 518137)
I guess I was used to Keley Blue Book for cars where there was not much that would change the base that much.

I had to learn the same lesson. Part of the difference is that many sailboats sold only dozens of hulls, the most popular models a few thousand over 20 years. Popular cars sell millions of the same model.
Cars are often used up after 10 years a sailboat is just starting to be "not new".
It is a rare car that you would drop 15,000 for an all-grip job or 5,000 for new cushions.

The bottom line is that sailboats are a unique market and follow their own rules.

I believe that one of the rules is that brokers significantly level out the pricing. I have had several discussions with a local broker with about 40 years experience and I think I have some understanding of how he thinks and how his business works.
Let's say you have a 1984 Catalina 30, diesel, average condition that he says he wants to list for 15,000.
If as the seller you get anxious and want to sell, there is a price, maybe 10,000 at which the broker will buy the boat from you himself. This means that if as a buyer if you offer $9,000 the broker will either not deliver the offer or shame the seller into not taking the offer or buy the boat himself.

How many people no matter how desperate will sell the boat if the broker delivers this speech.
"I'm telling you, you should get 15,000 for this boat. This thief is offering 9,000, I'm only telling you because I legally have to. If you are that desperate to sell I'll buy it from you for 8,500 with no commission so you will be $400 ahead. I know I'll sell it in a month and I doubt if you want me get triple my commission, but it's up to you."

Why do the brokers stand firm on the price. First, they have hundreds of boats to sell, they would like to sell yours but a boat is a boat.
Second, they don't want to poison the well. It is a small community. If people find out boats sell for 50% off that will be the new set point.
Even despite a desperate economy, boat prices are only slightly down not precipitously, like would be expected.

What does happen on occasion is someone gets into a beef with the local broker and takes the listing away. Now when you are dealing with the owner and all possible emotions are in play any price is possible.

The problem is that finding a FISBO (for sale by owner) that is a good boat, not junk, great price, the right boat and executing the details of an expensive transaction without the benefit of a broker with a seriously annoyed seller who knows he is giving his boat away can be a really big job and take months.

Brokers do an important job but getting you as a buyer a steal of a price is not one of them.

If my theory is correct, then there should not be very many sailnetters that will be able to report getting a great deal (My definition is 50% off comparable) from a broker. I'm interested in the exceptions. Perhaps a young desperate broker, my guy is old, established has money and is the top broker in the region.

mm2712 08-29-2009 09:54 PM

So how do you get a broker to work for the buyer?

davidpm 08-29-2009 11:32 PM


Originally Posted by mm2712 (Post 518213)
So how do you get a broker to work for the buyer?

Assuming the broker is not your blood relative it's not going to happen. Even if he is your blood relative it is very unlikely.

The broker works for his commission the commission is paid by the seller.
It depends what you mean "work for".

If money is no object and their is a specific boat you want you could theoretically offer the broker a few thousand extra to find your dream boat.
Then they would be "working for you" in one sense?

If your definition is to find your dream boat at the best possible price it's not likely to happen. It's not in the brokers best interest.

That being said every boat is an exception and so is every broker. Some, even many, are very, very nice guys.
You may find one that will really work for you in the sense of showing you a lot of boats and sharing some serious incite about what is good and bad about each boat.
You may even feel obligated, that is the plan, to buy your boat from him even if you find it elsewhere. Everyone deserves to earn a living.

Just be aware that he is paid a percentage by the seller no matter how nice and honorable he is. He has peers to face the next morning and reports to file with He is required to report low, low sale to a customer like you to sold That same sale to himself he does not have to report.

I'm not against brokers. In fact when I retire I may consider it, it looks like a fun job. I'm just trying to explain the forces I believe are at work.

If it is your first boat buying a boat that is easily resalable from a broker is a good strategy. The broker can help you buy and sell and you will learn a lot.

Funny story:
I was walking the dock at a nearby marina last week and struck up a conversation with a fellow on a 28' classic plastic boat. He said the boat was for sale and invited me aboard. During the pitch he said he had bought the boat about 10 years ago and was lucky he got the boat. I asked him why and he said the broker loved the boat so much the broker was going to keep it for himself. I asked the brokers name but he didn't remember. Of course I had a pretty good idea who the broker was, even though there are at least a hundred brokers in this immediate area, as the story sounded very familiar.
I mentioned my brokers name and sure enough a hit.
To this day my new friend is convinced he was the luckiest guy in the world to steal this fine craft from the yacht broker who desperately wanted it for himself.

davidpm 08-30-2009 08:52 PM

mm2712 08-30-2009 10:13 PM

These brokers sound suspiciously like realtors and I am not sure I like either one. This sounds like what a commission based sale will do for the market and it sounds like the broker is only working for himself. Like you say there are good and bad so you need to try to trust your instincts and hope you do not get it in the end. I guess the buyer beware statement holds true here so it is important to go into a deal with the most knowledge you can get from whatever source. You stated earlier that buying from a FISBO take much longer is that something that would need financing.

LookingForCruiser 08-31-2009 08:20 AM

That Dickerson thing was ridiculous. Supply is way greater than demand, so prices are going to go down. If/when demand is greater than supply, prices will go up. Individuals holding firm just means that those individuals won't sell their boats. The pool isn't being contaminated, it's accurately reflecting the current market.

Anyhow, lowball lowball lowball. The worst that can happen is they say no. Be a "bottom feeder" if you're buying a boat right now.

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