Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Working with sellers who refuse a pending survey contract
My initial reaction from the cynical side of my brain is to suggest that you run, don't walk, away from this boat because my first impression is that either 1) the owner does not know boats and how they are bought and so cannot assure the buyer that there is nothing wrong with his boat, or 2)he knows something is wrong with the boat and he is concerned that a surveyor will find it.
But the kinder-gentler side of me thinks that there may be some legitimate reasons that a seller might be concerned with a survey such as the unnecessarily delay before going to closing with the boat off the market or worried that items found in the survey will be used to renegotiate the price. Oddly, I went through something like this on a boat that I was buying. The owner had specific concerns that focused on not wanting the boat off the market during the last of the season before winter set in, and the agreed upon price was his rock bottom price. To address those concerns, my offer that had a very strict time limits:
1 week to name a surveyor
1 week after that to go to survey
2 days to agree to proceed after the survey was complete
1 week after the survey to close
2 weeks after closing to get the boat out of his yard.
And the agreement specifically did not permit renegotiation of the price based on the survey, I could only agree to proceed or leave the deal and get my deposit back. It had a larger than usual deposit that was non-refundable 1)If a surveyor was named and a survey date was set and the boat did not actually go to survey, or 2)once the survey was accepted if the deal did not close. That was a very tight schedule and tough conditions, but we met it.
If those are too much time for this seller, you might set something up where the seller can bail out if he gets a better offer up until you name the surveyor, and a date and time is set for the survey, and that the buyer only has one week (or week and a half) to go to closing once the surveyor is named. That should take some of the risk out of it for the seller.
But if you can't negotiate a reasonable deal with the seller that allows a survey and retains the price for the period during which the survey is performed, then there is no way that i would buy the boat. I have bought a few pigs-in-a-poke and its too much of gamble when looking at a G.O.B. since the costs to make hidden repairs can be many times the value of the boat. There are almost no fiberglass boats that are so unique or rare as to be worth that kind of gamble.
Reading Viexile's comments above, if your friend wants the boat bad enough, maybe he can at least negotiate with the owner to agree that the owner will hold his price in exchange for a deposit and for allowing the buyer to have the boat surveyed. The offer might preclude accepting an offer to sell the boat to someone else for an equal price or lower price until the buyer can get the boat surveyed. That does not take the boat off the market, so the buyer still has the risk that the owner could accept an equal or higher price. At least in that case the seller would return the deposit if someone else bought the boat but your friend would be out the survey costs.
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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; 04-17-2019 at 05:30 PM.