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post #11 of 13 Old 02-15-2013
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Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
I don't think you can offer half of asking prices, but 20-25% lower seems to be pretty doable in my limited experience.
For some boats, half the asking price would be too much. For others, 20% off the asking price would be too little. Any sort of generalization in this regard is pointless. There is no useable "rule of thumb." Everything depends on the boats condition, and condition will vary from pristine to barely floating.

You have to spend time out looking at boats, get a good idea of what constitutes good condition, poor condition, and average condition. Only then will you have an understanding of what asking price is reasonable, and how much you should actually offer for any particular boat.
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post #12 of 13 Old 02-15-2013
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Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

I agree with Denverd0n. I am always amazed at the way people, especially individual sellers (like you'll find on Craigslist), arrive at prices for their boats. I've seen some in HORRIBLE shape and the seller wanted close to the average selling price, or above the selling price, because "I paid $XXXX more for the boat 20 years ago" or "I put $XXXX into the boat over the last 10 years". That's all well and good, and can certainly impact the actual value of the boat, but I'm sorry, if you put $30,000 into restoring a boat that typically sells for $10,000, you're probably not going to get someone to pay $30K, or likely even $20K for the boat. You might find someone who appreciates the work you've put in and will pay a premium for it, but for most buyers, if there are two roughly comparable boats, they're going to go with the one that is less expensive. For example, I mostly daysail, with the occasional overnight. If I saw two boats that were in essentially the same condition (e.g., two 1982 Catalina 30's that both needed new covers for the cusions, woodwork redone, etc.) but one had a watermaker and the other didn't, I'm not going to pay a premium for the watermaker. I don't need it. So, the guy selling the boat with the watermaker has a choice - sell to me at the same price as the guy with the boat that doesn't have the watermaker, or be stuck waiting for another buyer, and one who will pay the premium for the watermaker.

Some sellers are also emotionally attached to their boats, and really hate the idea of selling, and so they justify a higher price than the boat really commands based on their rose-colored view of the boat and its condition.

I find that brokers are, generally, better about setting the prices for their boats, but even THEY are ultimately stuck listing the boat at whatever price the customer wants.

The way I've worked it is to use NADA's guides as a rough idea of what comparable boats sell for. If I really like the boat, I might even contact BoatUS for their pricing service, but I like NADA because the info is easily available. Then you have a good baseline for what constitutes a fair price for a boat that is in "average" and "good" shape. If the seller is offering a boat that looks to be in good shape at a price that is already 30-40% below the average selling price, you probably can't justify another 50% discount. Now, I'm not saying it might not be worth a try (I've done it), but just be aware that the seller may say no, and may choose not to deal with you again even if you increase your offer.

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post #13 of 13 Old 02-15-2013
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Re: 1st time buyer looking for guidance

The top three things to consider when buying an boat are; Condition, Condition, and Condition. I suggest that you ignore all the electronic doo-dads and only look for a well maintained vessel.

The Boat Buying thread, started by SailingDog years ago is a great place to start. To summarize it; a sailboat consists of three, or four, main systems;
  • Deck & Hull
  • Rigging (Standing & Running) and Appendages (Mast & Boom)
  • Sails
  • Engine and Drive Line (optional)

Look for a sound deck and hull. There should be no spots where either of them flex from any pressure that you can apply. Walk all over the deck, push on the hull, look at the boat on stands; there should be no flex anywhere. Go a step further, and spend $300 on an Electrophysics CT-33 Moisture Meter. This will help you determine if there are any hidden surprises.

Look at the standing rigging. Take a cotton rag to the stays and shrouds and rub it up and down. If the rag sticks, then you have likely found a broken strand, or "hook" in the rigging. Any hooks in the rigging mean it is time to replace. Look VERY closely at the chainplates and turnbuckles. There should be no cracks at all. Rust tends to form in cracks, called crevice corrosion, and will be visible. Also look over the running rigging (lines, shackles, blocks cleats, etc.). The line should not be frayed anywhere, shackles and blocks should be inspected just like the chainplates.

Look at the mast & boom. There should be no cracks or obvious patches. Because they can weaken the appendage, there should also not be too many unused holes, from old stuff that was removed.

Raise the sails. They should fit the rig, and not be too short, or long. They should not have obvious patches. Look closely at the stitching of the sails. The stitches should not be frayed, and should be intact.

Because the boat may, or may not have an engine, I'll leave it off this list....

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