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post #31 of Old 04-18-2019
JimMcGee's Avatar
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Re: Working with sellers who refuse a pending survey contract

Something I have to say here is I've come to question the REAL value of a survey.

When I bought my first boat in 2000 the surveyor was sharp. She knew boats and systems inside and out, told me her conclusions during the test sail, what repairs to do right now and what could be done over time. She didn't miss a thing and her report was detailed and thorough. She didn't comment on price other than to say the agreed upon price was within the normal range for that boat (which I knew).

When I sold that boat in 2008 I had a similar positive experience with the buyer's surveyor. However the surveyor on the boat I was buying was so poor I nearly refused payment. I got a worthless boiler plate and almost everything in his report were items I'd pointed out. And I discovered later he'd missed some significant items.

Fast forward to 2018 and I'm selling a boat my boat yard and everyone I knew described as Bristol. A local broker would actually tell people to stop by our slip to see how good these boats could look when they were well cared for. I'm anal about my boats and ours was improved well beyond anything on the market. The only known issue was the refrigerator had packed it in right as I was listing the boat (which I disclosed up front). There were no issues on the test sail and the surveyor even commented on how rare it is to find a boat so well cared for.

Then I received a copy of his report.

A 30+ page boilerplate about all the things that "could" be wrong with a boat. There "could" be hidden wiring problems, there "could" be hull problems that weren't found, there "could" be structural problems. In particular he kept harping on the fact that there "could" be a hidden exhaust hose leak where it ran behind a bulkhead and couldn't be inspected, despite the fact there was no diesel exhaust odor in the boat or the cockpit locker. I even paid the yard to inspect the exhaust hose to put the by now hysterical buyer at ease. The yard's response was WTH is he talking about?

Long story short, all the CYA "could" and "might" language running for 30+ pages scared the hell out of the buyer who was new to boating. To add insult to injury he used a semi-abandoned boat that sold well below market at a local marina as a comp bringing the "average" price down by thousands of dollars. So the buyer was left with the impression that I was trying to rip them off by charging too much for a boat that was about to sink !

I've heard similar stories from a few other owners the past few years.

This is VERY similar to what I see from "home inspections" these days. I've done a few flips and most of the "inspectors" don't know what they're looking at. They use some boiler plate software to create filler and mostly leave buyers with false impressions due to a lot of CYA. I've seen inspections from different properties that use the same language word for word. Evidently you can take an online course to become a home inspector. Is the bar now just as low for boats?

It feels like folks like BoatPoker and my first surveyor from 20 years ago (now retired) are becoming the exception, and if the surveyor isn't REALLY knowledgeable what am I paying for?

Rant over...

Currently Boatless

The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." - Henry David Thoreau
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