Originally Posted by Kacper
When I get more serious in the summer I will be more than ready to make some good decisions.
First; let me say sorry to hear it did not work out. It sounds like the seller was overconfident what he thought his boat was worth.
One thing I want to mention is that if you are looking at boats that are being sold by a broker; you should have a broker on your side as well. It costs you absolutely nothing to have a broker doing the legwork (finding suitable boats and doing contract writeups) for you because the brokers split the seller's brokerage fee.
In addition, if you are looking at a boat that is advertised for a bit higher than the average market value you should be looking for a boat that has had very recent and expensive refits done. This would be things like new electrical, new standing rigging, new sails, newer electronics, recent blister repair/barrier coat (that is documented with pictures). That should be in addition to an expected clean survey and overall acceptability of the boat.
If it is a little rough looking around the edges that is OK just be sure that it is a solid boat and has not fallen into severe disrepair. Adjust your initial offer accordingly (either well below market for a boat that has not had refit/upgrades, or closer to market if other expensive work was done recently).
You can do many of the pre-purchase survey checks yourself to weed out the ones that your broker presents to you. Take your time looking at the boat; get a copy of Don Casey's book on sailboat repair and maintenance and have a checklist of things to look at while onboard. Schedule a second and 3'rd visit with the selling broker and take your time looking in all of the compartments and check as many things as practical before making your 1'st offer. Winter is a good time to look in areas where it rains because you can check for deck leaks much easier; and it is a slow season for sales (helps your negotiating power).
Make an initial offer that is well below what your best guess of the actual value is. You need some negotiating room; and there should be no insult. It might get rejected without a counter offer but there are lots of other boats if that happens. Your broker should not pressure you to offer more; you are the person spending the bucks. If he does find another broker. If you come to an agreement (subject to survey) then proceed to survey/sea-trial but remember that you still HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO BUY. Be sure that in the contract it is worded that you have the right to withdraw your offer without penalty if FOR ANY REASON the survey (or sea-trial) is unacceptable to you; this of course includes valuation (the primary reason for the survey). There should also be a clause in the contract that allows you to re-negoitate the price following the survey should both parties agree.
Be sure you resolve any issues with the surveyor's findings or comments BEFORE you finalize the purchase. If there is anything vauge, incorrect or erroneous you should immediately contact the surveyor and work out those issues. Don't talk to the broker until you have a survey that is complete to your satisfaction. You want a survey that describes the condition of the boat accurately and is not just a laundry list of things that need fixing; otherwise you will have to get a second survey or addendum to obtain insurance. The survey should have a section that lists maintenance findings, and a section that lists "Critical Findings" - those that would be considered a liability risk to your insurance carrier. The surveyor should also include a comment that states "this boat represents a favorable liability profile (subject to repair of the items listed in the Critical Findings)." If the surveyor does not provide this sort of statement; find one who does otherwise the survey may be useless for getting insurance. Obtain more than one copy of recent surveys from your surveyor of a comporable boat and review his format and findings.
HTH; good luck with your search!