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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum
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  #1  
Old 12-21-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

If you’re negotiating to buy a boat at this time of year, when most northern boats are winterized and on the hard, how do you write the offer so that you reserve the right to have a sea trial, when weather permits, to give the buyer an opportunity to operate all the boat’s systems and ensure that everything works properly? At this time of year is it customary to wait until the weather breaks to have sea trials?

The seller might want to launch the boat and have the sea trial right away, even in bitter cold weather, to close the deal and stop his winter storage expenses, but the buyer won’t want to launch the boat and test the plumbing and other systems, only to hoist the boat back out and winterize the systems all over again, and put it back in storage for the rest of the winter. Is there a custom in the business as to how this is done and who should pay for the launch and two-way hoist and re-winterizing?

As the buyer, I would prefer to wait until the weather breaks for sea trials, and, if I go through with the deal, it seems reasonable to me that the buyer should pay for the cost of storage pro rated from the date of the signing of the agreement, and for the cost of the launch, because those are expenses that he would normally have at the beginning of the season. But, if the sea trial reveals serious problems, like a bad motor, and the buyer and seller can’t negotiate an agreed resolution of the problem, who should pay for the winter storage and the launch? It seems to me that the seller should pay those expenses.

Is there a customary way of dealing with these matters, or is it completely open to negotiation between the parties?
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Old 12-21-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

Sailorman, I can''t answer your question but I would like to offer a little coaching. Just like every other private, commercial acquisition, there is nothing wrong with approaching the transaction process as ''tabla rasa'', regardless of what the conventional view is on how to proceed.

IOW even if the broker (or owner)representing a boat in which you have interest has a clear view of ''prevailing practices'', there is nothing wrong in approaching the deal with your view of what is appropriate and expecting the deal to be done in that fashion. Your logic is certainly defensible and probably as valid (or no less) than any conventional wisdom on how such a deal should proceed. If I were in your shoes, the add''l reasons I would offer (to a broker and/or an owner) for proceeding as you outlined would be essentially two: a) I''m the interested buyer and it''s my money that will affect the sale, and so it''s my privilege to offer a reasoned approach on how the offer should be constructed, along with b) you/your client is trying to sell a boat at a time of year and while in a winterized state that doesn''t suit a sale...and so some accommodations will need to be made given the owner''s choice and the boat''s circumstances.

Your only risk is that the seller will hold out a while if s/he doesn''t like the conditions of the buying process you propose. But of course, there are a LOT of boats out there, and winter can be very long indeed when you''re the owner of a boat for sale.

Jack
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Old 12-21-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

Hundreds of boats get sold every Winter and all such sales deal with these considerations, and most of them, especially those that work out successfully for the buyer follow a set of conventions that the experience of hundreds of sales have established.
You can negotiate anything, but if you don''t have the experience to know when to hold versus when to fold, you''re more likely to get yourself into trouble than to avoid it.
My opinion - develop trust with an experienced local broker, and work your purchase through that person, regardless of where the boat is located - who will get a piece of the commission as comp. If you don''t want to take that approach, look for a lawyer who has handled boat sales and pay for assistance.
Otherwise you''ll pay for your mistakes as you learn the right answers to your questions, and your cost exposure is fairly open-ended.
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Old 12-21-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

I''m sort of going through the same thing. I had an offer on a boat that had just been winterized (sort of), but it was still in the water. I was going to have to commission everything, etc., do the sea trial, haul, winterize everything as it was going to sit on the hard for a couple of days to dry out, then drop it back in the water, take it back to the marina and rewinterize the engine. The survey wasn''t going to well as we found a major problem, so I didn''t have to do all of that, but we''re still talking, so it might yet happen.

I don''t know what the best way to handle all of this is short of looking for a boat down south!

Gerhard
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Old 12-21-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

I agree with Jack''s articulate views regarding your posted questions. Perhaps my recent boat buying experience, although not entirely comparable, could be of some value as well.

During the northern "early" off-season, normal business protocal for yacht acquisition may be expected to be adjusted to the buyer''s conditions, if the yacht has not been serviced & hauled. In my case, the seller''s incentive for accepting my discounted offer was of course, to avoid the usual expenses associated with winter storage.

I did some research and found out what his yard usually charged. When this discount factor was combined with my preliminary rough estimate to repair/replace some obvious deficient items during my pre-survey inspection, my offer was considerably lower then the asking price. The owner accepted it, and the usual contingency of yacht condition acceptance based upon reported results from my professional surveyor.

After a sea trial and a full day of surveying, my surveyor found a few additional deficiencies. After obtaining some hard professional estimates to turn my dream boat into Bristol shape, I factored on the high side, decided what tasks I could manage myself and put the seller in the difficult situation of countering my low offer, with the risk of losing a sale. To my surprise, he accepted without barter and I now own a quality yacht, for 65% of the yacht''s documented fair market value. The fun now begins by paying out some minor sweat equity (and some money for professional help) to prepare her for next season. I will still end up ahead of the depreciation curve.

In a situation where the boat you are interested in has been winterized, the seller has most likely already paid the boatyard for their services and has little incentive to do it twice, at his/her expense. The seller then has the upper hand, knowing he has nothing to lose by waiting for high season, or simply add those expenses to the selling price. That is unless the seller needs the money sooner, or has relocated, such was the case in my transaction. Either way, his broker will still charge the same commission for the sale.

Enjoy your search but stay strong during the negotiations, there ARE a lot of boats out there.

Steve
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Old 12-22-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

FWIW, I closed the purchases of my last two boats in the winter -- in February -- after each had been winterized and hauled out. In each case, we followed the same sale protocol, which may or may not be customary.

Basically, we entered into contracts, had the boat surveyed on the hard (all but the engine, of course), fine-tuned the price post-survey, and closed on the sale. We held back several thousand dollars in escrow to cover any issues that might be identified in the engine survey once the boat was launched, but at that point, the boat was ours and the risk that something major was wrong -- that could only be discovered after launch -- was ours as well.

When we launched, in April, we completed engine surveys. With the second boat purchase, issues were identified, so we retained about 1/3 of the escrow for repairs, and released the rest to the seller.

I suppose this could be perceived as a risky way to buy a boat, and of course, you have to make your own judgments. In our case, it worked out well, and we''re very pleased with the deal we struck. The key in our case was dealing with well-regarded and trustworthy professionals -- the broker, the surveyor, the engine mechanic; the seller was a class act as well. Ultimately, it meant we got to start our sailing season the minute it got warm enough to do so.
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Old 12-22-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

Hello,

A few points:

Most storage yards I am familiar with charge you a fixed price to haul, store, and launch. Once my boat is hauled, I don''t save anything by launching early (or by selling the boat and having the new owner move it). There are no additional winter storage expenses.

If I were selling my boat and you wanted to purchase it, but couldn''t do a sea trial, I would expect to place some funds into an escrow account until the sea trial could be performed. However, if two people wanted to buy my boat, and one insisted on waiting until the sea trial and the other one would pay me now, guess which offer I would accept? Not that I would expect that to happen, but you never know.

One last point, generally the buyer pays the cost associated with survey, this includes hauling and splashing the boat. If you buy a boat on the hard, and it passes the survey, you save a little money since you don''t have to pay for the haul and launch. That''s the way I bought my boat: it was on land when I saw and bought it. The owner''s contact covered launching the boat. I paid for the survey. The boat passed, I bought it and sailed it home. Once the boat was launched, if I decided not to buy it, I would have to paid to have it hauled and blocked.

Barry
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Old 12-22-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

Thanks to all the contributors. Sailingfool, I like your suggestion of getting a broker to represent me in negotiations, especially if he gets his commission by co-oping, like a real estate broker. It doesn''t hurt to have an expert at your elbow, guiding you and pointing out pitfalls.
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Old 12-22-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

Sailormon6,

Certainly, a yacht broker is needed during the sales transaction between seller & buyer, that goes without question. Whether representing you or the seller, he/she will assist in negotiation communications and expedite the contractual transactions.

However, once you know the boat search drill, do not trust someone who makes his money by selling boats to take control of the negotiations; his/her fee is a percentage of the selling price . . . this isn''t rocket science here my friend, simply common sense.

Once you have narrowed your search (yachtworld.com), my best advice is to locate a certified surveyor who can demonstrate successful experience with the boat you are focusing on.

Find and ask people who have bought that particular brand and year of boat what to look out for; interview several surveyors, preferably in YOUR area (surveyor travel is expensive . . . trust me) before deciding who to work with. Find the best professional specializing in that particular boat. What may seem to be an expensive surveyor''s flat-fee will reduce surprises during ownership AND will assist in leveraging the final contract price.

The surveyor is your only hired gun. Build a strong relationship and pay him well. His written report is the finest negotiating investment in the deal. Consider this . . . your loan and insurance agents trust his opinion more than that of the biased yacht broker.

The broker gets his ten percent irregardless of your satisfaction. What incentive does he have to lower the sales price?

Steve
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Old 12-23-2004
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Buying Boat in Winter

It doesn''t matter what "convention" is. It is your money and the contract should have your terms on it. There are plenty of boats for sale and plenty of deals, so walk if they won''t meet your terms.

Do like already posted and contract to have escrow paid (or held back)until you can sea trial. Aside from motor issues, sea trails rarely make or break a sailboat deal...ask any experienced broker.
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