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  Topic Review (Newest First)
03-27-2004 12:07 PM
Questions about boat buying process...

As others have remarked you generally look at a number of boats before you find one that meets your needs and expectations and is then worth making an offer & having a survey. In your case it would be typical for you to go look at the boat, if it passes your inspection & you want it, you could then make an offer "contingent" on survey to your satisfaction. If there are issues noted on the survey you renegotiate the offer to reflect. Usually you go for a price reduction or the seller to pay cost of needed repairs.
A surveyor will generally only go so far as to say something like "I see no reason for you to not buy this boat" or " This boat should definitely have such & such done right away."
If something is found on the survey that sours the deal for you it will cost you for the short term haul-out ($150 - 200) and survey $10-$12/ foot, around $400 total. Much better then paying $20,000 for boat and then discovering it needs a $5,000 engine.
I see Jeff has already given you a more detailed answer before I could post this, his idea of using a surveyor for a "quick look" is a good one if you can''t make that first look yourself, they all look and sound good in the ads. Usually the first time you see the boat you will know if it is worth a closer exam or just walk away. As he mentioned if it seems to be "the boat" you look in every nook and cranny, you will either like or dislike what you see in areas normally hidden & may find things you want your surveyor to REALLY check for you. Also researching the boat you may find areas of concern with that particular model the surveyor may be unaware of.
03-27-2004 12:00 PM
Questions about boat buying process...

I have bought 14 boats for myself and been involved in buying literally dozens more with other people. My usual process starts by carefully defining my goals for the boat by thinking through how and where I plan to use the boat. I put together a list of desirable traits that meet the criteria that is necessary to meet my goals.

I then begin to pull together a list of possible boats that meet that needs. That list might be 20 or thirty boats long. I then begin to narrow them down based to perhaps 6 to 8 models. I go through and reseach each on that short list. I typically come away with two or three of boats that meet that narrower criteria with one model surfacing as the one most likely candidate.

I then research the asking and sales price on these models and begin to develop a sense of what one of these should be worth in a variety of conditions and equipage. This step is important in being able to negotiate a fair price and understand where you stand.

With that information I approach a single broker who I believe in and provide the information that I have gathered and we begin our search. Sometimes the search takes a matter of weeks and other times it can take years.

I typically get prequalified if I need a loan by submitting financial documentation to the loan company. I discuss the boat in question with my insurance company to make sure that I am not buying a boat that can''t be easily insured.

If I locate a boat that is far from home, I usually try to get a local surveyor to take a ''first look'' before beginning negotiations. (A first look inspection is cheap but will only give you a very rough sense of the boat''s condition). I may not do that if I feel that timing is short or that I can fly or drive as quickly then I just go myself. I have a ''first look'' checklist that I tend to follow as a reminder. I can often walk aboard and rule out a boat pretty quickly but when I find one that looks like a winner, I will spend a lot of time aboard sitting in all of the seats, lying on the berths, crawling through in all of the lockers, booting up the instruments, checking over deck hardware, and ergonomics, looking at access to engine, valves and electical components and so on.

It is at that point that typically make an offer. The offer is always made contingent on a survey, engine inspection, a sea trial and being able to obtain financing and insurance coverage. You need to put down a deposit with your offer. In many if not most states a radified sales agreement is not binding on the seller unless a deposit has been made along with it and you would hate to go through the expense of a survey without knowing that the seller can''t accept a better offer mid-process.

I have made offers without seeing the boat and that can work out reasonably well although it often means a renegotiation after the boat is seen and a second renegotiation after the survey.

I cannot strongly enough recommend having the boat professionally surveyed. A good professional surveyor is looking at the boat with unjaundiced eyes and will call things as he sees them. Absolutely be present when the survey is taking place as you will learn a huge amount about the boat that you are buying. A surveyor will often find items that you might not see and in most cases these discovered items can be legitimately used to negotiate a price that is lower than you can negotiate without the substantiation of the professional surveyor''s findings. That renegotiation will often cover the cost of the survey.

One more point, you need to have some kind of plan in place that will cover where you will move the boat after you go to closing and where you will keep the boat in your home waters.


03-27-2004 09:31 AM
Questions about boat buying process...

Mike''s advice is right-on. As to your question, yeah, it''s pretty common I think to place the deposit (with conditions as Mike stipulated) prior to the survey. We bought our first boat long distance, and while I don''t necessarily recommend the way we did it, we had the survey conducted without being there. Although we made out ok, it''s definately better if you can be there for the survey. One other point, aside from just being the smart thing to do, surveys are required on used boats by most insurance carriers..

Best of luck! Take your time, shopping is a lot of the fun!

Fair winds,
03-27-2004 09:29 AM
Questions about boat buying process...

"it typical to place an offer on the boat and put a deposit down prior to having a survey done?"''s a stretch to make an offer on a boat you haven''t even seen, if that is the situation you describe, or to plop down a survey. You''d be investing a trip and a survey charge on you don''t really know what...If you are willing to buy a boat from outside your area, my opinion is use an experienced yacht broker from your area as your agent, especially if you are new to boat purchasing and boat ownership. You should be able to rely on the broker to match candidate boat models to your needs and budget, and to be better able to ferret out a candidate boat''s condition and character so that you''re likely to have one trip and one survey. The expereinced brokers tend to all know each other, and to talk morew frankly one-to-one, then to a tire-kicking buyer they are not likely to see again. If you can''t or don''t want to use a broker then see the boat the afternoon before the survey so you try to cancel it if not needed.
Even though I''ve owned a half dozen boats over thirty years, durning my last new boat hunt, covering about twenty candidates I''d say about half the boats I went to see, I didn''t even bother to climb aboard - there are a lot of dogs for sale. Should I ever boat hunt again, the local broker will be my first and only stop.
03-27-2004 05:14 AM
Questions about boat buying process...

03-27-2004 05:13 AM
Questions about boat buying process...

Thanks for the wonderful input. One question from your statements, Is it typical to place an offer on the boat and put a deposit down prior to having a survey done? I live in Wisconsin and was planning to look at a boat in New Jersey. Would it be a good idea to have a surveyor meet me that weekend since I will only be able to spend a couple days there. Should I have the surveyor look at the boat the same time I do for the first time? Thank you for your response.
03-27-2004 03:09 AM
Questions about boat buying process...

I just went through tese steps so maybe i can help.

Although I already owned a boat, I have been seaching for #2 since I bought #1 ( strange, but we all have a little bit of bigger boat diesease) After tons of reading, internet searching, figuring out what I want in my boat (comfortable coastal cruiser/racer, easy to singlehand, spend a few weeks on at one time) the boat of my dreams fell into my lap about two weeks ago. If this wasn''t the boat I really wanted, even though it was being sold at a ridiculasly cheap price, I wouldn''t have gone to step two.

If you have already done the research, and are pretty sure what type, size, year,boat, how much work you want to put into it, and costs for buying, adding gear, repairs (ALL boats need some type of repair..if not now, then tomorrow) then the next step is to find that boat. When you have, or more specifically, what I did was inquire about it and make a first look at it. Nothing beats sitting in the cockpit or cabin and getting a "feel" for the boat. Then, let it sink in. Take a few days to really think this over. If you are still hungry for this boat, take a second look ( preferrably with someone else who knows more than you do and who you feel comfortable with). My next step was to get pre-approved for a loan and on same day make an offer. Once that offer was accepted, I put down a 10% deposit with stipulation that boat MUCH pass a marine survey (or the deal is off and I get my deposit back) YES YOU NEED A SURVEY as boats cost $ and you don''t want to throw money into the water (not yet at least) and find out that your boat is falling apart on the inside. The surveyor of my boat pointed out many obvious things to me that I already knew, but he also pointed out somne things I had NO CLUE about (such as a cracked seacock, brittle drain hose, the rigging although servicable will need replacing in a year or so, there is a soft spot on the deck (I couldn''t feel it, but he did), there was a repair to the rudder that I couldn''t see(but he did)...the rudder was fine however, the steering needs to be tightened up a bit, the engine , although servicable, is in need of some TLC, the canvas is servicable but getting to the point that it will need replacing next year.

I though I knew enough about the boat w/o a survey, but I was wrong.

Take you time, don''t make rash decisions, be confident with what you are doing and GET THE BOAT SURVEYED!!! You''ll have piece of mind that you''re not going to buy a hole in the water (well, you are buying a hole in the water but not a HOLE in the water)

BEST OF LUCK ! ! ! !
03-26-2004 05:13 PM
Questions about boat buying process...

I have a possibly complex question. I am planning to purchase my first sailboat (acctually first boat at all) before July. Can someone tell me steps I should be taking in the purchase.

Such as: Getting preapproved on loan, find boat, get survey on boat.

I am not sure if a survey is needed or necessary and am not sure what the survey will actually tell me. I plan to purchase a 30 - 34'' sailboat for around $20,000. Can anyone help me to make sure that I have not misssed any steps that may be important. Thank you for your help.

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