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Old 07-10-2014
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Etiquette for boat sale

So, for selling, we all know the market has been very slow. My now asking price is less than 3/4 of what I paid for my sailboat 3 years ago. I received an offer that was 1/3 less of my asking price (now I'll be out $20k of the 40k I paid--still owe 30k on it).

The people that may buy my boat are very nice. It is has been a relatively slow moving process (over the course of 4-6 weeks--they really don't have the cash to be buying my boat, which is relatively rare). However, in the interim of when I said I would accept their offer (they didn't call me back for 1.5 weeks, until 2 days ago), I got a flurry of interest and am now fantasizing about not having to come up with 10k to get rid of my boat! I've had the excuse of not being able to get my guy to work on my engine and I'd really like to use the pending offer to make any of these other potential folks pony up quick if interested. And I of course, would not like to lose buyer #1 for the chance that I might get more money.

What is the etiquette? I am just trying to put off buyer #1 for a little bit to buy myself more time. It's not a lie that I am waiting on my engine guy. Am I shooting too high on this? I'm quite desperate to sell--been on the market for a long while.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

Its a little unclear how you left it, if you actually said okay. Assuming you accepted their offer on the phone; I would be straight with them. In fact I would probably honor the deal to my own detriment but I would say - get down here right now with the money. Give them 24 or 48hours. But don't pull the rug out from under them.

If it is really a hardship then I suppose you can call and tell them that its a money problem for you and you need to talk to some other potential buyers. They will probably walk after a few choice words. Nothing they can really do.

Whatever you do, don't accept an offer from nice people and then go fishing for more money elsewhere. That would be dishonorable.



* actually I am alittle unclear on the actual timline. If you accepted their offer 1.5 weeks ago didn't take a deposit and they dissapeared during that time - then all bets are off. If you accepted their offer yesterday, then honor it. You can't hold the boat for them unless you have a contract and deposit - everyone knows that -
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Last edited by Sal Paradise; 07-10-2014 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

It depends on what you signed and what it says. If it's just an oral agreement, well, it's not worth much on either side.

It sounds like the buyers are bottom feeding and seeing how low you will go by playing the waiting game. In a deal like that, I don't think ethics comes into play. It's a rough game. Each side has to act in its own self-interest and get the best deal it can.

It sounds like there is plenty of opportunity for them to walk away after you turn away potential buyers. So you should have the chance to say that you've found someone with a better offer and, if they want the boat, they should come up with more cash and fast.

I would say continue to show the boat and, if you get a better offer, take it after giving the original people a chance to rebid.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

The timeline went like this:

1 month ago--they offered 20k. I said I couldn't do it.
2 weeks ago--called back and said if they could come up a little bit (to 22-23k, which was still at least a 3k less than my lowest I wanted), I would accept their offer. They said they'd get back to me.
2 days ago--they called to talk about an offer of 22k.

No money has changed hands. All over the phone. No firm commitments on either end.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

I have never heard of any one suing for a breach of etiquette. I have heard of many suing for a breach of contract,.

You should consult with a lawyer licensed in your state. You are sparse on relevant facts and full on emotions.

There are people for whom litigation is a sport and hobby. Beware, when you start swimming with the sharks. You are clearly not full of sharp teeth or thick skin.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

I would disagree with the statement in one of the posts that says ethics does not come into play. Ethics ALWAYS come into play.

In this case, you are saying that you do not have a firm offer...just a conversation about a $22K offer. It is really hard to have a conversation on a specific number without either offering or not offering. Did they offer or not? Did you accept or not? If you accepted without any money changing hands you have accepted an offer and gotten nothing. Not their fault...YOURS!Get some money!

Talk to the buyer and tell them you need to get on with the sale. They come up with money or the deal is off. You lose a buyer that may or may not be serious, but I am not really sure what you really want.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

First you say you told them you would accept their offer then in your second post you say they called back to discuss $22k and there was no deal. Which one was it? Did you accept an offer that didnt exist? If the former then call them back and ask them to provide a deposit and remove any subjects like a survey within a specified time frame. As the seller it is up to you stepup and send them a contract that reflects your terms including price, what is included, closing date and payment. It certainly is in your best interest to move things forward if you really want to sell. They may well be negotiating on other boats as well. Nothing like a contract to see just how serious they are. Just be honest with them and demand the same.

In the future when you think you have a deal put it in writing and get it signed. If they refuse to sign then you dont have an offer. Negotiating like you have been will only bring lawsuits leaving you with even greater loses.

Despite the claim above by Shananchie a verbal contract is a binding contract for everything but real estate in most places. Given there is confusion on your part as to whether or not you have a verbal contract send them a written agreement with your terms. If they wont sign you are free to deal with others. If they sign it then its sold.

After owning the boat for 3 years I think your expectation of 3/4 of your purchase price is unrealistic (plan on 15-20% annual depreciation) but I understand not wanting to take the loss and using that as a starting point. Curious to see if any of the others "interested" have come to have a look.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

Quote:
Originally Posted by delite View Post
Despite the claim above by Shananchie a verbal contract is a binding contract for everything but real estate in most places. Given there is confusion on your part as to whether or not you have a verbal contract send them a written agreement with your terms. If they wont sign you are free to deal with others. If they sign it then its sold.

After owning the boat for 3 years I think your expectation of 3/4 of your purchase price is unrealistic (plan on 15-20% annual depreciation) but I understand not wanting to take the loss and using that as a starting point. Curious to see if any of the others "interested" have come to have a look.
Try enforcing a verbal contract like this in court sometime. You won't be able to, for the reasons illustrated by this "deal." Each side usually has a different understanding of the terms, which is why you always get the terms in writing.

By the way, depreciation of 15-20 percent usually applies only to relatively new boats. Older boats, properly maintained, tend to have stable prices that decrease moderately over time. (See prices on Cape Dorys, for example.) At 40K, I'm suspecting this is an older boat.

Admittedly, the Great Recession devastated the boat market. 2011 was a rotten time for selling boats. If it was worth 40K then and is still in good shape, I can't see how it would lose half of its value in three years.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

Quote:
Originally Posted by piratesbooty View Post
The timeline went like this:

1 month ago--they offered 20k. I said I couldn't do it.
2 weeks ago--called back and said if they could come up a little bit (to 22-23k, which was still at least a 3k less than my lowest I wanted), I would accept their offer. They said they'd get back to me.
2 days ago--they called to talk about an offer of 22k.

No money has changed hands. All over the phone. No firm commitments on either end.
In the USA, unless money has changed hands (or other consideration) there is NO CONTRACT.

You have verbally agreed to accept their offer, but if a better one comes along, you are under no obligation to stick to their offer until you accept a deposit (or other consideration).
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Last edited by eherlihy; 07-10-2014 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 07-10-2014
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Re: Etiquette for boat sale

Quote:
Originally Posted by delite View Post
...
Despite the claim above by Shananchie a verbal contract is a binding contract for everything but real estate in most places. Given there is confusion on your part as to whether or not you have a verbal contract...
Almost all contracts are "verbal" - meaning consisting of words - the question is whether the contract is "oral" - meaning spoken - or "written" - meaning something that is printed or written on some medium, usually paper.

I do not know about Canadian law, but in the U.S., the Statute of Frauds in each state requires that several types of contracts must be in writing to be enforceable, not just real estate sales. The Uniform Commercial Code as adopted by each state also requires that a sale of "goods" (like a boat?) of more than $500 be in writing to be enforceable. In most states, premarital agreements and marital agreements must be in writing and signed by the parties in order to be enforceable.

So there are numerous types of contracts that must be in writing in order to be enforceable. In Virginia, a sale of goods - moveable personal property of more than $500 value must be in writing to be enforceable. Last time I checked, a boat was considered moveable personal property.

The OP needs to consult with a lawyer in his jurisdiction, not the Sailnet legal experts, whose training apparently came from watching Judge Judy.
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