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post #1 of 44 Old 02-19-2019 Thread Starter
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Buying from private seller: order of events

My prior boats were small fixer-uppers that didn't involve surveys or much negotiating.
Now that I'm looking at buying a bigger boat in the 20-50k range, I'm trying to sort out the order of events for buying a boat that is not being sold via broker.
An extra hurdle with my current boat crush is that its owner took keelboat 101 and quickly got in way over his head, and does not have the skill and courage to take the boat out of its slip.

1) Do a quick visit and checkout of the boat to confirm it's a boat actually want and that it's true to the Craigslist ad (done!).
2) Do a more thorough checkout, i.e. my own survey (per the "boat visit tips" sticky post elsewhere). The owner volunteered some problems during (1), so this step is to find anything he didn't disclose and other previously unknown show-stoppers, within the limits of my own survey skills. Also confirm engine operates sufficiently for a sea trial, of course.
3) Make an offer to the owner contingent on survey & sea trial. Owner accepts, or we negotiate until an initial price is agreed.
4) Find and hire professional surveyor/captain. I'm assuming there will be an extra cost for the surveyor to act as captain for the sea trial, but I would be more comfortable doing that given that the owner has never operated the boat (liability). If at any point a show-stopper is found (major engine problems or delamination, e.g.), the survey stops, boat is returned to slip, and we all go our separate ways. Surveyor bills me according to the % of survey completed prior to aborting.
5) If survey finishes, I get the results within days, including engine health via oil analysis (or so I've read).
6) Further negotiate price downward if my earlier offer didn't account for fixable issues found by surveyor? Not sure about this step.
7) Get a certified check from my bank, meet owner to transfer payment for title.
8) Arrange insurance, submit title paperwork and tax payment to DMV, move boat to its new slip.
9) Sail my new boat.

Did I miss anything? Is some sort of holding deposit or escrow ever used for boats in this relatively modest price range?
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post #2 of 44 Old 02-19-2019
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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

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Originally Posted by bajaking View Post
My prior boats were small fixer-uppers that didn't involve surveys or much negotiating.
Now that I'm looking at buying a bigger boat in the 20-50k range, I'm trying to sort out the order of events for buying a boat that is not being sold via broker.
An extra hurdle with my current boat crush is that its owner took keelboat 101 and quickly got in way over his head, and does not have the skill and courage to take the boat out of its slip.

1) Do a quick visit and checkout of the boat to confirm it's a boat actually want and that it's true to the Craigslist ad (done!).
2) Do a more thorough checkout, i.e. my own survey (per the "boat visit tips" sticky post elsewhere). The owner volunteered some problems during (1), so this step is to find anything he didn't disclose and other previously unknown show-stoppers, within the limits of my own survey skills. Also confirm engine operates sufficiently for a sea trial, of course.
3) Make an offer to the owner contingent on survey & sea trial. Owner accepts, or we negotiate until an initial price is agreed.
4) Find and hire professional surveyor/captain. I'm assuming there will be an extra cost for the surveyor to act as captain for the sea trial, but I would be more comfortable doing that given that the owner has never operated the boat (liability). If at any point a show-stopper is found (major engine problems or delamination, e.g.), the survey stops, boat is returned to slip, and we all go our separate ways. Surveyor bills me according to the % of survey completed prior to aborting.
5) If survey finishes, I get the results within days, including engine health via oil analysis (or so I've read).
6) Further negotiate price downward if my earlier offer didn't account for fixable issues found by surveyor? Not sure about this step.
7) Get a certified check from my bank, meet owner to transfer payment for title.
8) Arrange insurance, submit title paperwork and tax payment to DMV, move boat to its new slip.
9) Sail my new boat.

Did I miss anything? Is some sort of holding deposit or escrow ever used for boats in this relatively modest price range?
a. You will pay for the entire survey, since most of it will be done before the boat is taken out.
b. You will pay for haul/relaunch.
c. Oil analysis won't tell you much without prior history of tests.
d. In most cases, sailboat surveyors give very limited engine inspections. That is a separate inspector. Mostly, all you will know is that it runs.
e. You can often only negotiate after the survey on items that were not obvious or a common condition of age. Worn sails and ropes, for example, were to be expected.
f. There are marine title companies that will do the title search/escrow part and handle closing for a small fee, much less than a broker. I have gone this route.

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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

I didn't read where you signed a contract. That and an escrow deposit are in both parties interest, prior to incurring the expense of a survey. Without one, the seller could refuse to sell it at any time, for any reason, or sell it to someone else.

I think the standard ABYC contracts can be found online. They mostly protect the buyer, while the seller is restricted from undercutting you, while you spend money on it.

There are also marine escrow agents I would consider using, if this is a large purchase. Their fee is just a few hundred dollars typically.


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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

+1 ^^^ on the escrow agent. We recently used one on a power boat purchase from a private party. And if the boat is documented, you might consider using a documentation company to help do the transfer, although many do this themselves in the total scheme of things it's short money.

All good advice, and a great list to start with from the OP.
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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

I would think the owner would choose and pay for a captain on the sea trial. It is the owner's responsibility to do this part of the sale. No way would I take the risk of having that responsibility as a buyer. The buyer should have no liability exposure during the sea trial.

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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

I'd read Ian Nicholson's "Surveying Small Craft" https://books.google.com/books/about...d=NnHgAAAAMAAJ a few times before spending money on a boat. Being there for the survey is another way to learn a lot, just listening to the comments the surveyor has, and being able to ask questions when you have them.
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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

Ah, yes, contracts! Almost forgot doing a handwritten bill of sale on the hood of the sellers' cars when I bought the smaller boats.
I can't find an example purchase contract from ABYC. These two strike me as being almost too simple, but a good starting point:

http://my.boatus.com/consumer/Forms/...ement-form.pdf
Beaufort Yacht Sales Purchase Agreement

And for a more formal bill of sale than handwritten on the hood of a car:
http://my.boatus.com/consumer/Forms/...-sale-form.pdf

Still searching for escrow options. escrow.com seems like the simplest option.

Last edited by bajaking; 02-19-2019 at 06:48 PM.
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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

Most surveyors charge by the foot, so if you find something that halts the survey, you are still on the hook for the whole survey. After all, the surveyor has blocked off the time for the survey.
I would not expect an owner to pay for your sea trial. That one is also gonna be on you, but if you can con him into it, cool. However, be very cautious if any owner offers to pay for anything he shouldn't normally, as it might indicate desperation to sell.
A good bill of sale to use is the USCG form, even if you won't be documenting the boat.

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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

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4) Find and hire professional surveyor/captain. I'm assuming there will be an extra cost for the surveyor to act as captain for the sea trial...
Amending this one. Just spoke to two surveyors who basically said: no, it's the seller's responsibility to get the boat in and out of the boatyard where it will be hauled; he should pay for a captain if he can't/won't do this himself.

4) Find and hire professional surveyor.
4a) Tell seller to hire professional captain or otherwise arrange to get the boat to the boatyard and return it back after the survey.
4b) Coordinate schedules for a day that works for boatyard, surveyor, captain, and me.

At least one book I read suggested arranging stoppage points and consequentially a degree of discount with the surveyor if he finds something that's a clear deal-breaker for me (e.g. if he sounds the hull first and the core is wet beyond reasonable repair, why go further?), but I agree it seems unlikely anyone would risk losing part of a day's pay by agreeing to this. It also seems like it might bias an unscrupulous surveyor toward overlooking or not reporting such problems. Survey cost is nominal in the grand scheme of things, so, yeah, planning on just doing the full menu regardless.

So regarding sea trial, it sounds like surveyors aren't part of that process -- it's the owner or the broker (in the case of a brokerage listing) that takes the buyer out to test the boat's operating systems? Which means, per capta's post, I'll have to hire a captain to operate the boat (since owner can't) while I play with the strings and things?

I figured since many surveyors, including the two I contacted so far, also advertise their USCG credentials, delivery, and training services, they wouldn't hesitate to also move the boat and run the sea trial for additional fees. It would certainly make life simpler to have one person for the sea trial, delivery to yard, survey, and return delivery (assuming all can be done within an 8 hour day, which in this case should be no problem). But that does not appear to be an option.

Last edited by bajaking; 02-19-2019 at 08:19 PM.
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Re: Buying from private seller: order of events

bajaking , what is the boat and what engine ? Thanks .

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