How to select a good "buyer's broker" and what type /quality of service to expect from that relationship?
The advantange of a buyer's broker is that you should receive higher quality service. The broker will honestly tell you *not* purchase the yacht you are in love with if he/she thinks it is a mistake. The broker will discuss with you about the boats you see and advise you on correct valuations. The broker will be protecting your funds in the deal. He/she will advise you on a list of surveyors in any region and other support groups. Because you are dedicated, the broker will not be respresenting the seller side but your side protecting your negotiating position and long-term interests. Expect and demand that a buyer broker represents you. He/she has a fiduciary responsibility to protect you whether or not it is in his/her interest. If it is not in your interest to purchase a boat at all, the broker should advise you of this.
Should we expect a broker to show us a variety of boats like a real estate agent to get us started? (we do have some pretty specific ideas of what we're looking for.)
If you know what you are looking for, then there is no reason to waste time. For instance if you know you want a centercockpit design, then there is no reason to look at aft cockpits. Sit down with the broker and tell him what price, style, performance, accommodation, size characteristics you are looking for. The broker may come up with yachts to consider.
If we find a buyer's rep that we like in one region, can/should we expect them to assist us if we find a boat we're interested in in another region? (eg a broker shows us some boats in Florida and we later want to see one in the Chesepeake.)
Absolutely. Your buyer representative will ask for a courtesy showing from out of town brokers. The seller's representative will show you the boat understanding that if you make an offer your buyer broker will be representing you.
We're vacationing in So Florida next month. Are we wasting a listing broker's time buy asking him to show us one or two specific boats in his listings although we know 1) we won't buy until late 2010 and 2) if we wind up seriously interested in the boat he shows us then we'll certainly be consulting with a different broker prior to writing an offer?
Yes, you are probably wasting their time but maybe not. Any brokerage will be happy to show you yachts. But, you should absolutely tell them you have or will have a buyer agent. Not disclosing this will create a huge problem for your eventual buyer broker. You should be very upfront with brokers that you have or will have a buyer broker. They are showing you the boats as a courtesy for another broker under the assumption that some day in the future they will need him/her to courtesy show for them. Be very upfront. In your first inquiry, you should lead off with something to the effect of "I have a buyer's agent."