After years of chartering and going to boat shows without the checkbook it is time to start really looking. Now that I am not working any more it is either buy a boat or sit around the shredder with a stack of money.
Congratulations. It is a very nice position to be in and I hope that you are enjoying it. While there are certainly some areas of commonality between shredding money and owning a boat, on the whole I think you'l find the boat the more pleasureable of the two.
Spouse prefers the boat alternative.
You married well !
My questions are pretty basic at this point. We are not (currently) interested in buying new.
Excellent decision. They just aren't building them like they used to and they're charging exorbitant prices for what they do build. Don't worry about asking basic questions. The only dumb question is one that remains unasked.
How is the best way to approach a search for a used boat ?
Spend huge amounts of time on the internet reading everything that you can find about sailing. Read about the adventures that others have had and decide which of them sounds appealing and which (if any) scare the pants off you. Assess your goals realistically. Realise that if you want to head off around the world you're going to need to spend some time developing the skills and knowledge a circumnavigation requires. If you are planning on heading down to the Carib and spending your days lounging in utopian anchorages... well you need to learn a different set of skills to do that well.
While you are reading, you will note that certain brands and models of boat tend to be mentioned in connection with various types of sailing. Often, this is an indication that said boats are fairly well suited to the activities described.
So start by identifying the boats that do what you want to do. Then go out and look at as many of them as you possibly can. Contact owners, brokers, anyone who has a boat that might remotely interest you, and go look at it. Leave your chequebook at home. I am seriously suggesting that you view 50 or 75 boats in your area, in order to start developing a sense of what is out there and how much it costs. Don't feel that you are wasting someone's time. You are in the market for a boat and they have one they are trying to sell. Don't let them pressure you into anything. Conversely, if you have not interest in purchasing the boat after you look at it, tell the owner as soon as you reach that decision and (tactfully) tell them why, so that they have an opportunity to correct any shortcomings that you have identified if they should so choose.
If we work with a broker, will they know where sellers have the specific models we might be looking for? Should we work with more than one broker or start with one?
I have heard that there are honest, decent brokers out there, and I suppose that there must be somewhere, but I have not encountered one. I have met honest folks who didn't have a clue about boats, and I have met knowledgeable slime balls, but I have yet to encounter someone who knew what they were talking about and was ethical. It is my opinion (and only my OPINION) that brokers are a fallback option employed by people who have been unable to sell their boat privately. I think people consent to pay a sales commission only after they feel that they have exhausted other possibilities.
Unlike realtors, I have not found that boat brokers educate themselves about the market, nor have I found them to be very eager to spend time and energy hunting down the boat I wanted.
If you are looking for a good boat, my suggestion would be to start with yacht club bulletin boards and owners' association websites. Boats are usually listed there first. Then read local buy / sell publications such as boat for sale
. After those avenues have been exhausted, start contacting brokers. I think that ebay and craiglist are the last and least desireable places to search. Others may well differ.
Personally, I would not engage the services of a broker to act on my behalf if I was purchasing. I would deal with the broker who had been contracted to sell a boat that I was interested in. As with real estate, when there are two brokers involved the commission is split and there is less room or incentive for the listing broker to drop their fees in order to close the deal...
Where can I get information on what used boats have sold for? Is there an equivalent of MLS to get comparables?
There is a service called BUCNET that may give you some idea, but I have found the values listed there to be low. Prices vary by region, general condition of the boat and desirability of the design. I think that if you were to list the various examples of a specific model listed on Yachtworld.com, discard the highest and lowest prices, average the remainder of their asking prices and finally deduct 25 percent, you'll get an idea of what a boat is worth on the market.
DON'T EVER BUY A BOAT WITHOUT HAVING IT SURVEYED !
Thanks for any input.
You're welcome ! Good Luck ! Let us know what happens.