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post #1 of 78 Old 06-13-2012 Thread Starter
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Boat Broker Ethics

I had been dealing with a broker regarding a Bristol 34. This was a long-distance relationship, and I have never seen a Bristol 34.

As time passed, I became seriously interested in the Bristol 34, and had arranged for a surveyor to give the boat a quick once-over. I had offered the broker a deposit, since I didn't expect him to hold the boat for me based on a phone conversation. His response was, essentially, "we're both gentlemen, and I'll hold the boat until your representative has had an opportunity to view the vessel".

Looking recently on yachtworld, I didn't see the boat listed. Calls to the broker went unanswered. The surveyor did return my call, and told me the boat was sold. Are the ethics of the boat-brokerage business as low as that of the used-car business?

This post has a mildness to it that IS IN NO WAY representative of my feelings. Hopefully this story will be helpful to someone. Also, in considering a distant boat, how the hell could I have prevented this??

A call to the home office of the brokerage produced 5 min. of BS.

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post #2 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

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I had offered the broker a deposit, since I didn't expect him to hold the boat for me based on a phone conversation. His response was, essentially, "we're both gentlemen, and I'll hold the boat until your representative has had an opportunity to view the vessel".
I was gonna say Money talks BS walks.. but I see you offered a deposit..

So obviously ..one of you is not a "gentleman"...
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post #3 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

boat brokers and used car salesmen, both always wear big gaudy pinky rings and toothy smiles
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post #4 of 78 Old 06-13-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

I JUST realized the thinking behind the boat broker's behavior. If he commits to me, via a deposit etc. (legally binding), then he loses opportunities with other prospects who might have called, planned to stop by etc. If he tells me he's "holding it for me", then he's free (except for any possible guilt feelings) to sell it to whomever shows up with $$$$. He has no financial motive for keeping his commitment, since it's verbal and both his and the seller's goals are satisfied as soon as the boat is sold, to anyone. Until there's a contract, I'm just a voice on the phone.

From my viewpoint, I'm reluctant to put down money on a boat that I've never seen, even similar models, so my actions are understandable. Hopefully this experience will teach someone out there something. It did teach me.

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post #5 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

tanks.. chalk it up to lesson learned.. if you can, by all means try local to yourself.
long distance is a PITA!

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post #6 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

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.....long distance is a PITA!
Indeed... we have a friend who was shopping for a substantial trawler (GB36 or better)
He made trips to SF, Chicago, and SanDiego upon assurances from the broker that the boats were pristine and exactly what he was looking for (after detailed discussions)

In all instances he knew within 5 minutes of stepping aboard he'd wasted his time and money.

Certainly adds to the overall cost of purchase, not mention hiring surveyors and yards with no local knowledge or reference.

OTOH we know several people who have successfully bought boats at some distance and trucked them home, so if you are careful and maybe a bit lucky it can work.. it does expand the selection pool, and that is something worthwhile.

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post #7 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

You know, it’s the owners boat not the brokers. The broker can’t “hold it” for anyone.

If you offered to sign a purchase agreement with deposit and a price that the owner agreed to subject to your personal inspection, survey, etc and the broker said not to bother than he is in the wrong big time.

If you just wanted to make some kind of deposit without the above than it would be pretty non-binding anyway.

If an offer came in from a third party before you had a ratified contract than the owner can do what he wants and the broker is bound to follow his direction.

Maybe some more information in order to answer your question?
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Last edited by sailpower; 06-13-2012 at 05:27 PM.
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post #8 of 78 Old 06-13-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

Buying a $20K boat, sight-unseen, and never having seen a similar model before would be scary for anyone of sound mind, I believe. That is the position I was in. I was following the advice of one of the moderators of this forum, who is far, far more knowledgeable in sailboat characteristics/construction than I would ever be.

If the boat "felt good" when I saw it, had adequate storage (for my wife) and needed only reasonable work, I would buy it. I was "close enough" towards a purchase to initially arrange a full survey (with a $400 haul out fee involved, as well) when I subsequently decided that having the surveyor look it over first to see if the trip and expense of a full survey was warranted was a more reasonable approach.

When I told the broker this, he agreed that having the full survey done would be premature for a boat that I had never seen. He had agreed to hold it for me until the surveyor had taken a look at it. He did say he would continue to show it, but that he wouldn't sell it until my surveyor had looked at it. IF HE HAD PROVIDED ANY SCENARIO THAT WOULD ALLOW ME TO LOCK-IN MY PURCHASE CONTINGENT UPON THE SURVEYOR'S INSPECTION I WOULD HAVE TAKEN IT!

My plan was to have the surveyor look at it and if it was in reasonable shape, I'd drive the 13 hrs. and participate in the survey, just for the education on MY boat. If the survey went OK, I'd buy the boat.

In retrospect, I should have said "I'll buy it", read the contract carefully, then taken advantage of any escape clause. Tough lesson learned.
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post #9 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post
Buying a $20K boat, sight-unseen, and never having seen a similar model before would be scary for anyone of sound mind, I believe. That is the position I was in. I was following the advice of one of the moderators of this forum, who is far, far more knowledgeable in sailboat characteristics/construction than I would ever be.

If the boat "felt good" when I saw it, had adequate storage (for my wife) and needed only reasonable work, I would buy it. I was "close enough" towards a purchase to initially arrange a full survey (with a $400 haul out fee involved, as well) when I subsequently decided that having the surveyor look it over first to see if the trip and expense of a full survey was warranted was a more reasonable approach.

When I told the broker this, he agreed that having the full survey done would be premature for a boat that I had never seen. He had agreed to hold it for me until the surveyor had taken a look at it. He did say he would continue to show it, but that he wouldn't sell it until my surveyor had looked at it. IF HE HAD PROVIDED ANY SCENARIO THAT WOULD ALLOW ME TO LOCK-IN MY PURCHASE CONTINGENT UPON THE SURVEYOR'S INSPECTION I WOULD HAVE TAKEN IT!

My plan was to have the surveyor look at it and if it was in reasonable shape, I'd drive the 13 hrs. and participate in the survey, just for the education on MY boat. If the survey went OK, I'd buy the boat.

In retrospect, I should have said "I'll buy it", read the contract carefully, then taken advantage of any escape clause. Tough lesson learned.

Yep, sounds like the broker was pretty loose with his assurances given that he had no authority to make them.

Your last sentence is probably the way to go in the future.

BTW, did you see this boat? 73 Bristol 35 CB Model sailboat for sale in Virginia

It's more than the first one but if you were going to improve the first one then....? Don't know if there is a broker involved but you can always make an offer!

Good luck.
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post #10 of 78 Old 06-13-2012
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Re: Boat Broker Ethics

Boat Brokers can not ever be bitten by a shark. Professional courtesy.


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