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post #1 of 19 Old 02-14-2012 Thread Starter
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How to get more information before travel

I have a friend who is actively looking for an older boat of a certain size and style. He is searching the whole US and driving and flying to see boats. He has been very frustrated by the process because so often the broker/seller is representing the boat as pristine and when he gets to see the boat it is beat.
We all know that pristine is in the eye of the beholder so in order to prioritize which boats to see I was wondering if an email similar to the following would be tolerated by potential sellers if it was preceded by the normal phone calls.
If you were a seller and got a letter like this forwarded from your broker would you even bother with it or would you just figure the buyer was a nut job.

Dear sir I am very much interested in purchasing a sailboat in the next 30 days. Based on your ad and our conversation it looks like boatname may be what we are looking for.
Our time is limited and we are scheduling our boat shopping in the next few days.
Would you mind answering some specific questions about boatname so we can prioritize it for immediate viewing.
I am well aware that the following list of questions is excessive and almost no one will know the answer for all of them.
Please humor me and just fill in what you know.
Even though the list is long it will only take a couple minutes I’m just trying to get a feel as to which boats I will look at first.
Again I apologize for the number of questions. Even a guess is OK. For example if you remember replacing the cutlass bearing maybe 3 years ago just put 2009? and I will know it is your best guess.

If the boat was not yours and there is no way you would know such specific details just put in what you remember or even think you remember.
Something like my dad was an engineer and I remember him complaining about how hard it was to replace the fuel tank about 6 years ago will help.
I'm just trying to get as much easily accessible information before doing so much traveling.

Here is a list of specific questions to get you thinking:

Engine and Drive assembly:
How many hours are on the engine?
Please describe your maintenance schedule. Do you have a log book and or yard receipts or parts receipts?
How many zinc are on the engine and how often do they need to be changed?
Have you ever had the oil tested if so please send the test report.
How often are belts changed?
How often are impellers changed?
What engine spares are on the boat?
When was the last time the engine mounts were changed?
Are there any leaks from the engine, if so tell me the history.
How clean is the bilge under the engine?
What kind of stuffing box does it have and what is the leak rate and service schedule.
What is max rpm for this engine and what speed does the boat achieve at this rpm.
What is the temperature of the engine after 30 minutes at max speed? Has this temperature been checked by an infrared device?
When the engine starts is there any smoke, what color? How long?
Are there any engine smells either on deck or below.
When was the cutlass bearing last changed or checked.
What is the type and condition of the prop?

How old are the chain plates and when were they last pulled, inspected and rebedded?
(About 20 more specific questions)

(A bunch more specific questions)

I wonder what the maximum tolerable number of questions would be?
I could think of about at least 10 systems and 20 questions each probably more.
It might be possible to use this basic format and ask only a few key questions for each system and learn enough for the goal?

Last edited by davidpm; 02-14-2012 at 10:45 PM.
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-14-2012
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If I were an active seller I would do it and wouldn't mind . . .I was "into" vintage sports cars in a previous life and I know how absurdly off an add can be from reality . . .
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post #3 of 19 Old 02-14-2012
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I'm thinking boarderline nut job, but a lot of that would depend on your buddys "budget" and target boat/audiance...

For a 5 year old $100+k boat I would expect to ask and answer a goodly number of very specific questions as part of the sale process...It's a heck of an investment and limited history so specifics should come easy...

For a 15-20 year old $30 k boat maybe less information will be forthcoming, maybe not the original owner, not so sure on history, records not as well kept... Pristine should probably not be in the discriptive range and if called so be wary...

For a 30+ year old boat, at $10k and under, my idea of "good shape" may be different than yours. so take your chances if you want to drive down and see her...
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-14-2012
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As a seller I would toss it! a buyer needs to show an interest first, I hate it when they haven't even seen it and want your "bottom line".....Dale

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post #5 of 19 Old 02-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Lake Superior Sailor View Post
As a seller I would toss it! a buyer needs to show an interest first, I hate it when they haven't even seen it and want your "bottom line".....Dale
I agree about people asking for the bottom line.
But in my case I'm only asking for condition information not dollars.
Would that be enough to get you to spend the time, hopefully only a few minutes to answer these condition questions?
Maybe in the letter I should explicitly address your concerns. Maybe a phrase like this.

Sorry about the number of questions but please notice that their are no questions about the price. I know I will have to pay a premium for a premium boat.

Would language like that help.
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Last edited by davidpm; 02-15-2012 at 09:20 AM.
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Squidd View Post
For a 30+ year old boat, at $10k and under, my idea of "good shape" may be different than yours. so take your chances if you want to drive down and see her...
You have a very valid point. What can really be expected for 10k.

In this case we are taking about 150k - 300k 30 years old.

So in this case it is enough money to have to be very careful and old enough that maintenance is everything.
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post #7 of 19 Old 02-15-2012
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1) The broker handling the deal isn't going to answer condition questions opens him up to a lawsuit if, after buying the boat, the buyer feels he was misled in a significant way. Besides, I suspect most brokers don't want to invest lots of time answering questions, especially if the answers might tend to turn off buyer. Better that buyer inspect the boat.

2) If you can talk with seller, sellers will either try to answer truthfully, or some will spin you, so how do you tell the difference? Don't know about marine brokers, but real estate brokers go absolutely nuts if a potential buyer wants to talk directly with the seller....been through that a couple of times.

3) Lots of the questions on the list, really don't have any when did you tighten belts? Belts should be in good repair and properly tightened, but these are small items that you can take care of when you own the boat.

4) When I sold my last boat, I wanted potential buyers to see exactly what they would be getting and I set up a page on where I posted 199 photos. Even then, one guy got pissed because the halyards were not new (and they were shown in the photos).
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I think a serious seller wouldn't mind taking the time to answer questions about the maintenance of the boat being sold. However, I think if the questions were presented in a checklist/excel spreadsheet format, where the seller just needs to insert a number or 1-2 word answer, the seller would be more receptive to filling the "form" out.
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post #9 of 19 Old 02-15-2012
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I'll bite...

I just sold a boat around the 10K mark. I sold it on craigslist, so I got some wingnuts, scammers, tirekickers, and people who just wanted to gab on the phone about boats. I tried my best to give them all a fair amount of time.

I think this list depends on the price range your friend is searching in and who is selling the boat. The bottom line is that if the list is ignored, ignore the boat.

Let's go out on a limb and say your friend is dealing mostly with brokers. The broker simply emails the list to the seller and it's up to them if they put the work into it.

On brokers, there are some brokers out there that are lazy and full of ****. Some are very good. However, they are all sales people and when you get them on the phone most will talk a good game. It's what happens when they have to put some effort into something that their true colors come out.
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post #10 of 19 Old 02-15-2012
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As someone who is currently selling an older boat for a small price ( I would do my best to answer these questions. I prefer this kind of approach over someone who clearly hasn't done even the most basic of research before asking questions.

I think this level of questioning detail is perfectly acceptable for a second or third round of inquiry. Your message indicates you've done your homework online, and have had a conversation with the seller. So you've already dealt with the easy show stopper questions. Getting into this level of detail indicates you (as the potential buyer) are still interested, and therefore tells the seller it is worth spending time answering your detailed questions.
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