What responsibility does a broker have
This thread got me thinking:
How far regarding full disclosure should a broker go?
In the above case I think we would all agree that the broker's actions were reprehensible.
The main factor that made it so in my opinion were that there was an unambiguous flaw in the boat that the broker knew about that was not possible to determine with a survey. It should have been disclosed.
But what about things the broker found out that might be a problem in the future but are not guaranteed problems, for example:
1. The broker knows that the diesel engine had a compression test that showed compression significantly below spec. It still starts and runs well.
2. The broker knows that the diesel engine overheated and stopped. After cooling it started and ran well.
3. The broker saw a yard repair hole in the hull where they ground the hull back three inches at the 1/2" thickness mark instead of the recommended 6" bevel.
4. The broker saw or heard of any number of hundred of things that are repaired poorly or hidden damage.
5. The broker knew the yard did a moisture meter test of the deck and found a couple of 2 foot wet spots by the chain plates.
6. The broker happens to know the main sail is not on the boat because it is shot.
7. The broker know the engine puffs some white smoke on startup for a couple minutes so he starts the engine a few minutes before the buyer shows up.
Not lets talk about the brokers responsibility to learn about the boat.
If the PO does not volunteer problems does the broker have an obligation to ask questions.
What if the PO starts talking about problems and the broker cuts him off because he doesn't want to know?
There are some realities here that should be addressed.
1. Many people buying 28'-32' 20k boats are first timers.
2. These boat all have issues otherwise they would cost more.
3. It is very easy to spook a new buyer by talking about risk
4. With a little luck the new buyer will probably be able to sail the boat a few years with normal maintenance.
5. Eventually one of these newbies will be caught with the hot potato and have an engine or deck job, etc on their hands. Luck will run out eventually.
So where is the line drawn?
Where IS the line drawn or where SHOULD the line be drawn?
Ideally, there should be complete transparency. In a perfect world, every boat listed for sale would be surveyed by an independent surveyor, and the report appended to the listing at the time the boat is listed. Ideally, an escrow of 20% of purchase price should be automatic and part of the standard boilerplate in the contract of sale.
Is it going to happen? NO!
*Rant on* A sticky gas pedal is cause for the recall of millions of cars. If the power windows on a new $15000 car did not work, the owner would take it back to the dealer and scream until it got fixed. We would not settle for any less than 100% perfection and 5 year warranties on our new cars when we drive them off the lot, and we know full well that our $15-$50,000 car will be worth maybe 30% of the purchase price at the end of the warranty period. A new home buyer expects no defects in his/her new $300,000 home, and the builder is on the hook until the pre-purchase inspection is clean and deficiencies rectified. Yet the boatbuilding industry seems perfectly content to deliver $30 000 -$300 000 boats to the buyer with sloppy wiring, defective hardware, scratched finishes, etc., etc., and we as buyers accept this, because we believe that, as somebody said to me recently, "production boats are built to a price point, so they are not going to be perfect." If a manufacturer has the balls to charge me $1500 for cockpit cushions from the factory, then I expect those cushions to have no marks on them, and seams that look like they are worth $1500! If the dealer is going to charge four figures to install the elctronics, then shouldn't the electronics all work properly upon delivery? How come that seems to so rarely be the case? If we as consumers are willing to accept lies, excuses and sloppiness in a brand new boat from a dealer, why should we expect a used boat broker to adhere to a higher standard?
*kicks over soapbox and stomps away.*
Regarding the comments about how a broker explains the condition and problems in any used (and even some new) boats to inexperienced buyers and sellers.....
It is a sad axiom in the industry that, in general, the third broker Gets the listing or Sells the listing.
The first couple of contacts just anger and confuse a lot of sellers/buyers who take a while to internalize the Truth about their own boat or the type of boat they seek. A lot of time is spent educating the boating public about reality... and many are quite resistant to learning.
I have done some selling and know a lot of yacht brokers over the decades. It's just all part of the fun.
The reason I'm asking is that being a broker seems like something a broken down old computer hacker might be able to do. What I'm not sure I could do however is keep my mouth shut and let the boat sell itself. I'm sure I would be tempted to ramble on about how the stuck sea-cocks should be fixed. The 30 year old rigging should be replaced. The bad wiring should be redone. The propane locker should be vented properly etc, etc. Problem is just about every boat I've been on in the last 24 months, about 40 of them has needed some or all of the above.
But if I could get the blessing from some percentage of this group to keep my mouth shut and sell the boat maybe I could earn a living.:)
Most of you guys have bought and sold a lot of boats. The 20 or 30 regulars probably account for over 100 boats. What exactly do you expect from the broker.
IOW if I sold you a boat and didn't tell you about items 1 through 7 above and it cost you a bunch of money would you blame yourself or surveyor or would you go on to all your friends about what a crook I was.
A salesman, of boats, cars, fridges or whatever will accentuate the positive and not talk about the negatives unless it is brought up in the conversation. He or she will keep things positive. It is up to the prospective purchaser to ask about this item or that item and whether it works and/or is installed properly. If he or she is asked it is up to them to answer honestly as far as their knowledge extends. Of course the survey will find issues as it should. But there are negatives about every boat (or product), whether new or old.
Remember the game show...
"It's not what you say that counts...IT'S WHAT YOU DON'T SAY"
Dealing with brokers is like playing a game show.
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