What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
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What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

If I want to buy a boat from an individual, not a broker, what do I need to check for? I don't mean doing a survey, I mean making sure the title is free and clear and in his name or any other things I need to do before I hand over money.

I saw the title, but I was thinking, theoretically it could have a lien or something, but by then I have gotten to the DMV and have already given over the money.

He is going to sign the title over to me tomorrow and give me a bill of sale, I said I would meet him at his office late afternoon.

FWIW, he seems like a good guy, and an honest individual. I just want to make sure I have done everything I need to tomorrow morning.

Thanks.
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Re: What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

Wait! You gave him money without a contract, a bill of sale, or a title? You better hope he is legit because you are asking this question way to late if he isn't.
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Re: What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

No, I haven't given him anything but a handshake.
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Re: What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

I think you did it right . Go to the DMV first . IMO
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Re: What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

In your sales agreement/bill of sale document, be sure to add a statement to the effect "seller warrants that there are no outstanding liens on vessel including but not limited too mechanics/taxes/marina fees etc.."free and clear title". Some of the attorneys here should be able to draft something for you.
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Re: What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

Generally speaking if there is an outstanding loan/lien the boat owner won't have the title... at least that's been my experience (Yeah I know people do illegal things)... but banks have this tendency to get VERY unhappy if they don't get a title.

Bill of Sale should state as much, that makes it a legal contract. Believe it or not a BOS is binding, and I've used one each time I've purchased. Some states don't do titles for boats, some don't for trailers. My state does both, and I've had to deal with both boat and trailer with non-existent titles coming back home.. the BOS was the only way to prove it...

As an FYI for people buying boats out of state, if the owner does not have a title for the boat, a BOS and proof of any former registration will be enough to get a title in PA (or should be enough for any other state). No title to the trailer is harder than that. I didn't recommend this or anything, but Maine has title registration services online that allow you to title/tag your trailer in Maine that is way easier to deal with than many (including my) state.

But yeah with title get BOS. Including wording that the title is free and clear.
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Re: What do I check for before buying a boat from a private seller?

I would not spend money I couldn't afford to lose, without an escrow company doing a title search. It's an easy process, but takes a few days. You and the seller send the money, title, contracts, etc to them. As soon as title clears, plus whatever other contingencies you both agree to, they release the money to the owner. The problem with liens is they can be filed federally or at any individual state. Having a title in hand proves nothing. For that matter, their could be a filed lien in another state from whomever he purchased it from in the first place.

I purchased an aircraft once that had a several thousand dollar fuel lien in another state that they filed about six months after I purchased it. Aviation law may be a bit different, but it was binding, even though they didn't file it before I took title. My contract required the prior owner to clean up any and all liens. He was a good guy who paid up willingly. It was a final fuel bill that his office didn't pay because they no longer owned the plane and thought it was mine.

However, without a contract, I would have had no way to enforce an agreement we didn't make, if he was a jerk about it.
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