Learning to sail
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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You didn't mention what price range you're looking at. This makes a massive difference.
One thing I discovered recently while searching for an inexpensive "starter" yacht is that the people who are looking for something for under $8K will have a completely different experience from people who are looking for something $20-30K, and I imagine that search would be very different from someone looking for a boat above $100K.
I was in the under $8K range, and it was my general observation that brokers had very little to offer in this price range compared to what was available from private sellers. The broker listings I did see were more often than not extremely questionable at the most superficial level.
Another thing I discovered about the $8K price range is that it contains massive gobs of well-used, but generally quite good boats. If you're flexable, and in a major sailing area, you'll find all kinds of boats in this price range from 20 to 30 ft from the 70s and 80s that may be as suitable as vessels $10K more expensive.
The flip side of this is that as the price falls, the market becomes more of a seller's market. A good boat without major problems listed at $5K will probably be snapped up within days, whereas a $50K boat, no matter how good a deal, can safely be counted on to stay on the market long enough to research it, get a surveyor, etc.