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Old 03-21-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

Ahoy Everyone!

I was all set to spend time looking over a Beneteau 350 tomorrow. I pulled up the local weather and "breezy" was just fine with me.....Curious thing, though.....The broker tells me, "Oh, we won''t be sailing the boat. You can walk on board and then make an offer. You cut a check for 10% of the offered price. (We won''t cash it, though.) If the buyer agrees, you get to take her out for a sail and survey. If you don''t like what you see, we''ll refund your downpayment."

Hello! Is it just me or does this sound wrong? I don''t see how I could possibly make an offer on a boat that I haven''t even sailed. Why would I obligate that kind of money before even having a good idea that this is a boat I want to buy?

Now, maybe that''s the way the boat brokerage business goes. Thus far, all the boats I''ve considered buying have been private sales, so the seller and I go out for a sail and talk a little turkey while we''re cruising.

I told the broker to forget it. I''m going to be crewing Saturday at the club, anyhow, so I''ll hear the scuttlebutt about the latest boats being put up for grabs by the owner.

My question to y''all is this: Was my experience unusual in the boat brokerage business, or is this the way it is customarily done?

David
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Old 03-21-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

That is customary with boats under a broker. It saves them and the owner from taking people for joyrides (the owner generally has to be aboard).

Private sellers vary. When selling my last boat, I refused to take people for rides. If they don''t know the boat, they are not going to put a contract on it anyway. I relented only once. These folks spent two hours looking at the boat, swore they were serious and demanded I take them for a ride before they made any offer. Well... I took them out, we cruised for quite a while and they loved the boat. Got back to the dock and they said they would think about it. They made me a low ball offer a week later. I sold the boat to someone else who came in at my price and knew the boat.

NEVER again would I take anyone out without a signed contract and earnest money. And... this is why many people use and will continue to use brokers.

Just my $0.02.

best of luck.

By the way, I think the 350 is extensively reviewd in the "Practical Guide to Boat Buying" by the folks from Practical Sailor. You can also purchase the individual review from their web site.
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Old 03-21-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

David,
I also agree. This is the standard practice as far as I''ve experienced. I''ve looked at a lot of boats, bought a few, and it''s always gone the same way.
Think of it this way, when you buy a house you walk through it, and then put down earnest money and hire a house inspector. You don''t actually sleep in the thing until the deal is final! Same deal here. If the boat''s a great deal, sometime there''s a rush to see who can put down the deposit first, as they then get to be legally the first to make an offer.
As I''ve said before, the 350 is a fine boat, and if it''s the shoal draft version, it''s a great Florida boat. I''m biased, because I own one, BUT...there''s a reason I own one.
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Old 03-21-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

Yup David, It is just you! The broker is exactly right that you don''t get a sail trial until a price has been agreed to and a deposit made. To me it makes no sense to be taking people out for a sail that have not committed to a purchase and agreed to a price. It would be one thing if the boat is question was a rare or exotic design but with a production cruiser there is no logic to not coming to terms first.

Jeff
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Old 03-21-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

Dav-O,

It''s just you! That''s the way the brokerage business works ... and it works well. I tried to sell a boat by myself. It was in the $40K price range. Big mistake! Everyone wants to go sailing. They make appointments and don''t show up. They make verbal offers that are 50% of the asking price. After almost a season of this, I handed it over to a broker. He raised my asking price, sold it in 2 months for net more than I expected to get myself. The net more, was after his 10 % commission.

I love to go sailing for free too. That''s just what you are describing. You went sailing with some of the private owners because they are too "close to the deal". You didn''t make any formal, bonafide offers to them... you wasted their time.

Sorry to be so cold and blunt, but it''s business. On the other hand, you should not be afraid to put your money up on a boat you are serious about. Any good broker will not cash your check, and get it back to you if there are problems that you are not satisfied with after a trial/survey.

Good Luck,

Bob N
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

Thanks to everyone for your replies! If I didn''t want an honest answer, I wouldn''t have asked the question. Besides, I''m new to this, as you can tell, and I need all the help from y''all that I can get!!

David
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

Cold hard cash is the only way to "prove" the buyer is serious.

The other aspect is that "going for a sail" as opposed to "conducting a sea trial" are two different animals. Taking the sea trial is part of the survey; the professional surveyor has things he''s doing and measuring. The owner should get a chance to wear a stupid grin at the helm for a while, but that'' not why your out there.

I suppose, in theory before I turned my boat over to a broker I would have allowed a sea-trial without a contract if and only if the buyer was conducting a PAID non-destructive survey, with a hired surveyor.

Even then I''d hestitate to even allow a survey anyway, because "non-destructive" means different things to different surveyors. Once it''s under contract, anything the surveyor does to the boat is the buyer''s problem unless he rejects the boat. And I believe you could whack his deposit for any damage caused by the survey (someone correct me if I''m wrong on this).

From the broker''s perspective too, they tend to not have the owners around for sea trials & surveys. In this case the broker is assuming liability for the boat. I don''t think most brokers want that liability if they aren''t pretty sure of a sale.

Being where I am in New England has advantages to sellers and disadvantages to buyers in re: seal trials. For most of the peak buying season (Oct/Nov & more so in Feb/Mar/April) around here boats are not usually in the water. I was lucky with the boat I bought last fall, I made an offer about a week before she was scheduled to get hauled for the winter, so we got to do a sea trial. Third boat I''ve owned, first sea trial I ever got. This boat did cause an incredibly stupid grin on my face...

The boat I am selling now is sitting up on the hard, shrink wrapped, with the mast down. Tough to do a trial since I''m not intending to launch her for my own use at all. Of course, she doesn''t look very pretty this way either which works against me because she''s a very pretty boat.

For me, it will be practically impossible to conduct a trial unless the buyer is planning to pull the boat afterwards, or close within a couple of days and take it away, as I have no place to put it once it gets in the water.

Good luck finding your boat; sorry you had to get a rude wakeup on this one.
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Old 03-22-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

I have a question...
How does someone without a whole lot of experience on different styles of boats (like myself) get to sail some of the boats on my short list? I have narrowed my list down to about five boats I am very interested in purchasing, but would like to see how they sail and feel on the water.
Signed
Interested Buyer
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Old 03-22-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

Most brokers, at least in our area (Great Lakes) are [pretty knowledgeable and straight people. I would think that you could discuss with them your concerns and what your looking for (sailing wise) and should get a pretty good answer. If your a racer, find a broker who knows racing. If you don''t know one ask around.
The owner should also be able to give you an idea as to how his boat sails. If he is serious about selling the boat he is not going to lie, you''ll find out at the sea trial and they will have just wasted everyone''s time. If the owner is not experienced enough to answer your questions the broker should know and advise you. Personally I have never bought a boat where I have not talked with the owner extensively. I know that is not the case in many purchases. I don''t usually low ball, put a bid in for what I think is fair and have never had a problem with the PO.
This board has e-mail lists for almost every major boat.
On our Morgan list there are always prospective buyers asking questions about sailing characteristics as well as structure maintenance etc. The list participants usually love their boats but still give you straight answers. They are your best source of information. If you''ve narrowed the list to five, you should be able to get a good idea pretty easily.
Sailnet had an article just in the past few weeks concerning what happens or what should happen at a sea trial. I was enlighten. It sure did not happen at any of my trials. But in all cases I had a good broker who new what I wanted and new the boat I was buying. So I ended up with a great boats for me and my first mate. We have never taken a surveyor on a sea trial, but did have it surveyed before we did the trial.

There is also nothing wrong with taking a sea trial and backing out of the deal. If you are a serious buyer you will not be wasting anyone''s time. If you become a looker, tryer and never a buyer you will be known quite fast in your area.
Making it plain what you are looking for, what you expect and how you plan on completing the purchase will make everyone comfortable you are not wasting time. It is also acceptable to put down a deposit, do the sea trial with just you and the broker, then have the survey and require another sea trial with him on board. Just make your intentions clear and you''ll have no problems and when you are done you will feel comfortable with the entire process.
Good Luck,

John_/)_/)_/)
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Old 03-23-2002
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Curious Customs: Setting Price Before Setting Sail?

David:

You''ve gotten a good education on the subject from others on this board, so I won''t reiterate. Your comment that you wouldn''t commit money unless you were serious is understandable, but the nature of the transaction is that you aren''t really committing any money since your deposit is a refundable one.

That being said, it is important that you assure that the appropriate contingencies have been included in your offer. Once you''ve looked the boat over and have decided on a price to offer, make it contingent on your specific satisfaction with a professional survey and sea trial as well as your overall general satisfaction, all within a certain timeframe. Thus, you are able to back out for basically any reason up to the time that the purchase offer expires wthout losing your deposit. This level of understanding should be able to be readily acheived if a broker is involved because it is customary. If you are dealing with a private party however, they may not always agree right off the bat, but stick to your guns.
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