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post #57 of Old 06-07-2016
Jeff_H's Avatar
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Re: What did I do wrong?

While I understand that I may be alone here, I don’t understand many of the opinions being expressed here, and more to the point, the hostility towards the seller. It is not like the seller is being deceitful, just slow to accept what the buyer is offering. To me, boat buying is simply a business deal; all of it is a negotiation and negotiations do not always go smoothly.

Then again, maybe this is just me since I negotiated on my house for nearly two years and negotiated on a boat for nearly 4 months before we came to a final agreement.

In the boat deal, the seller started out with an asking price that was substantially beyond what I thought the boat was worth. The boat was out of the area and the listing broker was in a third location. I worked through a local broker, so sight unseen other than photos, I put down a deposit and made a low side of what I thought was a fair offer. We negotiated back and forth for a while to a price we both could live with.

Just when I thought the deal was done, the listing broker realized that I lived in Annapolis and I might detect the boat’s history since she had been in a famous collision in Annapolis, and so let the boat’s previous name casually slip out as a way of ‘disclosing’ the collision.

I then rejected the boat based on the collision. The listing broker threatened that they would keep my deposit if I did not go to survey. I countered that I would have a friend appear the next day to confirm the prior damage as my survey and reject the boat based on that, and that also as an aside, pointed out that the Broker was in violation of his state’s broker license law in that he failed to disclose material information that he was aware of. They backed down and agreed to refund my deposit.

In the meantime, I researched the damage and the repair, with the shop that made the repairs here in Annapolis. I knew the owner and a former employee, who told me that the damage wasn’t as bad as I originally thought. They described the repair in detail and I concluded that the repair was first rate.

I then decided to proceed with a new offer but at a lower price. So again, we were negotiating, this time verbally, and I told them to hold the deposit check until we saw where the all of the shoes fell. We eventually reached agreement verbally, I signed new forms, they were sent to the buyer, and then things went silent.

Weeks later they returned my broker’s call and said some guy from California decided to buy the boat for the full asking price, sight unseen, but subject to inspection and survey. So I figured the deal was dead.

But a week later, just before my check was sent back, they called again and said that the buyer from California flew out, took one look at the boat, and decided that her condition did not precisely fit the description or photos in the listing and bailed out of the deal. They wanted to accept my last offer if it was still on the table, but they gave me a series of very short deadlines to name a surveyor, do the survey, accept the survey, and get the boat out of where she was sitting. I accepted that deal and we were off to the races again.

A few days later I called the listing broker with the name of the surveyor. I told him the name and there was an audible gulp on the phone. The listing broker said, “You know that particular surveyor has surveyed that boat before. You might want to call him.” So I did.

The conversation went like this:
Me: ”I understand that you surveyed this boat before.”

Surveyor; “Yes I did, I was going to call you.”

Me: “I understand that this boat had a bad collision. Could you see the damage when you did the survey?”

Surveyor: “Of course the boat hit a rock ledge at over 8 knots…”

Me: “I think that you might be thinking of a different boat. This boat T-boned another boat in Annapolis Harbor.”

Surveyor: “Oh really, she did that too? Huh?...... I could not see that repair.”

So again I rejected the boat one more time. This time they did not bother to threaten to keep my deposit. But the surveyor gave me the name of the repair yard and sent pictures of the damage and repair process. I spoke to the repair yard who described in detail the repair material and methods, and sent more pictures of the repair process.

And so once again, I was reassured that the repairs were about as good as they could be, as the repair yard said, “Better than she was built to begin with”. And once again negotiations started. After a couple backs and forths, the owner accepted a lower price with the condition that I could do a survey, but after the survey I could only either reject the boat or accept it, but under no circumstances there would be no further adjustment in price no matter what was discovered. We also extended the deadlines by only a week even though we had negotiated for several weeks.

The rest was history….bought the boat, brought her home, sailed the daylights out of her. The boat turned out to be exactly what I wanted her to be and more. I owned her for 15 years and to this day have no regrets or ill-will towards the seller. (I do not harbor similar feelings towards the listing broker, but that’s fine since he lives half a dozen or more states away, and I have no plans to buy a boat that he has listed any time soon.)

As far as the surveyor’s estimated value, with all due respect to the surveyors in this forum and my friends who are surveyors, they are next to worthless in really knowing with any precision the proper value of any individual boat, in any individual location, at any individual moment in time, to any individual buyer. In reality, they are best guesses based on ‘blue books’ and the like. And are generally skewed to be a value that an insurance company and loan company will accept as believable. And while these guesstimates are likely to be closer on a mass production boat like a Beneteau than on the limited production boats that I tend to buy, they are still best guesses, and should only be seen as a very loose indication of what the boat is worth. I have had surveyors value boats of mine at nearly 50% over what I paid and nearly half of what I paid, and neither reflected what I sold those boats for.

And while most owners set the price of the boat based on being able to negotiate down a maybe 10-20%, that is not always the case. In my own case, I have set asking prices that I considered to be close to be a fair selling price, and already baked-in most of the discount off an inflated asking price and frankly have gotten my price or close to it in most of those cases. The one exception was actually bid up over my asking price, but that is another story for another day.

In any event, you are buying a boat and not its previous owner or the brokers involved. Only you know how badly you want that boat and what she is worth to you. If you only plan to own her a very short while, then fight for every penny. But if you plan to own the boat for a long while, 5% one way or another does not mean much over the length of time that you own the boat.


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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay

Last edited by Jeff_H; 06-07-2016 at 08:11 PM.
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