Here is the bottom line on buying a used boat....
CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION!!!!!!
Be willing to pay a premium for it and it will be the best money you ever spent.. I see people over focus on purchase price way to much when the real focus should be condition. No matter what the boat in the best condition IS ALWAYS the best value even if you pay a large premium for it..
Boats that sit on the market for long periods of time are usually there for one reason POOR CONDITION. Though sometimes owners just list them to satisfy a spouse and the asking price is reflective of that.
Boats that sit are not usually a value and wind up costing multiples more than a boat in tip to condition. Sometimes they sit because they are an odd-ball one off.
Boats maintained in tip top shape, or what I call "2 percenters", (the top 2% of boats) often sell in hours or days for top value but this is still a steal! I know this is tough to grasp but it is the truth. There are always buyers who know boats and only want that pristine well maintained immaculate vessel because they know it is a steal and tremendous value even at a solid premium.
I have a customer with cash trying to buy a boat right now and he has looked at over 60 boats, all JUNK. There is just too much poorly maintained junk on the market. He is willing to pay well over Soldboats.com avg because he knows that when he finds it, this boat it will represent a bargain over the same sister-ship that sells at the bottom or middle of the heap.
Tim R. sold hi beautiful Ericson with one mention of it being for sale on here on Sailnet in a forum post. This beautiful boat never even hit the market, he did not pay a broker and it sold quickly. He disclosed any issues and the boat was a true gem and a great value even if it sold at the high end of the range. Tim's replacement boat, a Caliber 40 LRC, was also purchased without it ever hitting the public market. It too is a 2 percenter.... Good boats move, bad boats sit.... Really good boats often never hit the brokerage market.
One customer went for the least expensive of his preferred model that he could find, a HUGE mistake that I see novice buyers make ALL THE TIME..
The one I tried to talk him into, same model, two years newer and it had a re-built engine, new sails, new canvas, re-wired, brand new electronics (three months old including radar), Espar heat, high output alternator, new interior cushions & foam, recent cockpit cushions, windlass, beautifully shiny gelcoat, new standing rigging and all bright work professionally stripped and re-finished. This done in preparation just for selling it. Boat was owned by a wealthy couple with a fat check book who used one of the best yards in the area. Deck hardware had also been recently re-bedded and it had bone dry decks.. The bottom had been fully stripped and barrier coated three years prior. You could eat out of the bilge. The price "premium" for all this was going to cost him 6K more upfront. Just 6K more..... Doh'......
He opted for the beater "value boat" at an agreed price of 28k and now has approx 75K into a boat that is still worth maybe 32-34k on a good day... Very, very, very poor decision. This is a net loss to him, over the other boat, of nearly 50k. His mistake was that he got caught up in the "purchase price" and refused to acknowledge the "value" the other boat represented and he "felt" the other sellers were just being greedy selling at the top of the market for that boat. They were not greedy at all they just knew what they had.. His boat is still not anywhere as nice as the one he did not buy and I doubt if it ever could or will be.
He kicks himself every day, especially the days I am billing him for to fix everything on his boat that was "deferred maintenance"... I also work for the guy who bought the good one, a seasoned sailor and a very smart buyer. He did not even dicker on price other than about $500.00. He knew what this boat represented and did not want to lose it. This 2 percenter was also a private sale and never hit the open market.. The boat has needed very, very little work. A few hundred dollars, that's it. He saved 6k only to spend an additional 50k +/-...........
My personal opinion is that bottom line price should never, ever be the #1 determining factor when buying a used sailboat though it very, very often is. When it is it almost ALWAYS cost more in the long run..
CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION!!!!!! Try to think and project out what will your total cost be three to four years from now. This type of thought process should always be a strong consideration.
Course in my professional opinion, please buy the beaters it keeps me working....