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Purchase Plan help

2217 Views 14 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  BarryL
I am trying to prepare myself for purchasing the first boat. I would greatly appreciate it if you all could look over this plan and adjust add subtract etc.
Thanks. Ditch

Purchase Plan
1. decide it’s the boat (model) for you- research research
2. get other’s opinions about the boat in question
3. Make a balanced overall budget then-make an offer
4. Physically inspect the boat
5. Find out if:
A. it has a clear title
B. it has taxes to be paid
c. What else to lookout for?
6 Make a Purchase Agreement:
Helpful things to include:
a. place deposit money in escrow
b. purchase contingent on survey outcome and positive sea trial
c. What else to lookout for?

7 survey
8 sea trial
9. Payment procedure: Advice here would be helpful, would owners/brokers be willing to take less with cash, is that a bad idea?

10.paper work, fees: this is where I am very confused, it would be great if someone could explain the a-e process below.
A. title procedure:
b. sales tax:
c. registration: USCG
d. boats name change:
e. others ??
11. Transport: Cost out all these and include in the overall budget.
Sea transport:
a. storing. on the hard, slip, mooring.
b. hauling
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10e - Insurance.

Steps 1, 2 & 3 are all well and good but you should focus on the features you are looking for in a boat and less at an actual boat. I have just spent 4 months researching the boat I wanted and narrowed it down to two boats. I was planning on buying in the spring but a great deal just came up and I am in the process of finalizing the purchase of a boat that wasn't even on my radar but does have the features I was looking for.

I'm in the middle of step 10 on your list right now.
Thanks krozet

I would love to hear the outcome and a full break down of # 10 if your not to busy sailing :) when you are finished.
Hello Ditch,

It would help if you could provide a little more information. Things like your budget, expected sailing location and type, ability and / or desire to work on the boat yourself or pay others to work on it, boat size, etc. Do you plan on buying from a broker or a private person? Do you plan on leaving the US or not?

If you are looking for a simple small cheap boat then things are a lot different than if you expect to pay over $100K for a boat that will take you across oceans. If you have your heart set on a wooden ketch the steps will be different than if you want a typical production boat around 30' for day sails in decent weather and a few overnight trips.

For example, back in 2006 when I was in the market for a bigger boat,
had the following requirements:
budget: Under $35K
Type of boat: fiberglass sloop, cruiser / racer, wheel steering, 33 - 36' in length (big enough for my family of 5 to spend a week on, small enough for me to maintain and single hand), light enough to move in light air, no need for a heavy cruiser
Sailing location: Long Island sound in fair weather
Required features: swim platform, propane stove, hot and cold pressure water, shower, wheel steering,
Close enough to my home port to sail the boat home

As to your specific question, assuming that you are spending at least $15K I would suggest you find a good broker and work with him / her. There are a number of benefits to working with a good broker, such as:
-They let you know if the boat has a clear title or a lien / judgments
-They have standard purchase agreements and contracts (subject to survey, etc.)
-Dates for when things should be done (survey, sea trial, closing, etc.)

It may take you visiting a few brokers until you find a good one. Let us know where you are and people can make recommendations.

I think you should think about what you want / need in a boat and then find a number of makes and models that meet those needs instead of focusing on a specific boat (unless you have your heart set on one particular boat).

Regarding titles, that depends on your state. In NY you pay sales tax and they issue a title.

USCG documentation is only required if you plan on leaving the US. There may be some other benefits as well.

Moving a boat overland gets real expensive real quick.

I guess this is long enough for now.

Good luck,
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Hi Barry
Thanks for your thoughts..
Many of the questions can be answered by reading the post that I wrote at the same time also under Boat Review and Purchase Forum titled: "Buy now? These boats?"


1. Budget: about $30,000
2. Sailing ability: beginner
3. Have the ability and desire to work on the boat myself
4. Broker or private: undecided
5. Leaving US: yes
6.Anywhere on the east coast that has the right boat is where I will buy

1. Taxes: about what would taxes be be on a 30 grand boat in NY?
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11 steps with multiple sub-steps.
Here is another way.

My friend has bought two boats a Cataline 27 and 30 with just about the following process. He is a big picture guy.

The following is how the conversation went one afternoon.
  1. Friend: Dave I want to buy a sailboat want to come along.
  2. Me: Sure
  3. Friend to Broker: I want to buy a sailboat and have about 10,000
  4. Broker: You need at least 15,000
  5. Friend: OK but I have to see it first.
  6. Broker: Follow me
  7. Broker: In front of the boat "It's a great deal".
  8. Friend: I'll take it.
  9. Broker: Follow me
  10. Broker at desk: Sign these papers
  11. Broker Smiling: Congratulations you own a boat.
See exactly 11 steps just shorter ones.
I'm not even exaggerating that much.
The amazing thing is that we have been sailing our buts off the last three years and having a great time.
His way works for him.
I of course waste hours a week on sailnet reading about what boat to buy:)
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1. Taxes: about what would taxes be be on a 30 grand boat in NY?
Will you be keeping the boat in New York? If not, generally, you will owe taxes where you keep the boat, not where you buy the boat. With regards to taxes in New York - it's the same as sales tax, and it's based on where you live. In Rensselaer County in NY, where I lived when we bought our boat, sales tax was 8 1/4% on the purchase price. One tip - if you buy it elsewhere and bring it to New York, if some time period (I think it's 6 months) elapses between when you buy the boat and when you enter New York waters with it, you only pay sales tax on its current valuation. If you can show other boats listed for sale for cheaper, you can reduce your tax burden legally. The state you buy it in, however, has to allow you to NOT pay sales tax upon purchase. We bought ours in Maryland, and it was on the hard, so Maryland let you sign a form stating that it would be leaving the state for transport to another state and waived Maryland sales tax.

With regards to title - in New York there is no title on boats. There is registration, and it's done at the regular DMV. You bring your bill of sale and then fill out the forms and pay the sales tax. If the boat was already documented by the Coast Guard, you can pretty much just go to their website and fill out the forms to mail in, along with a check for something like $100, to transfer the documentation to your name. If it hasn't been documented, and you want it documented, there are a bunch of steps to go through and you may be best served to get a broker to walk you through those.

With regards to payment - I've never seen a broker take credit cards, so you will probably be paying cash/check no matter what. Your final price will be your final price.

There are no special aspects of changing the name of the boat except for the name change ceremonies. Do a search on these forums for more info on that.

With regards to sea trial, inspections, etc. do a search on these forums - there is a ton of information on these areas here already.
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Thanks labatt

Very well written and easy for me to understand. One question.

I will be registering the boat in NH where I have my drivers license, but keeping it in Maine. So do I pay tax in Maine or in NH- NH has no sails tax.

"Will you be keeping the boat in New York? If not, generally, you will owe taxes where you keep the boat, not where you buy the boat"
You're welcome. These are all questions I needed to know about when I bought our current boat a few years back.

You will most likely have to pay taxes in Maine. By the way - if they make you pay taxes where you buy the boat, keep your proof of taxes paid and show it to the tax department where you are keeping your boat. If the taxes where you keep the boat are higher, they will just charge you the difference. If they are lower, then you usually don't have to pay a dime. Note the word - "usually". I don't know how things go in Maine...
No tax no pay?

If I take the boat to a state with no sales tax then does that mean I would pay tax in the sate I bought the boat or not pay taxes at all? For example buy in Florida the keep it in New Hampshire ?
Ditch, NEVER Make an offer on a boat....

Without seeing it first and doing your own inspection, not a survey, just a half hour walk-thru. Check overall condition of boat, lines, electronics, sails, bilge, etc. You can quickly weed out a lot of boats that look good on paper and have snazzy photos, but are dogs in person. Learn to understand what is easy cosmetic fixes, versus major and costly fixes. Check the engine hrs to see if the motor has a high number of hrs/year in service. Think about this if it does.

When you comfortable with a boat, then make an offer that YOU can live with. Forget about what the broker tells you the boat is worth. If it's listed as $30K, but you think it needs $6K of worth to make it safe and sailable, then work off that. A boat that is in pristine condition is worth it. For example, two identical boats are for sale around $30K. Boat A is pristine except it needs a complete rebuilt of the diesel, but it's offered at $3K less than boat B, which has a brand new motor and super clean. Boat B is the better buy.

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Ditch - not all states allow a sales tax exemption when you buy the boat. I know Maryland has a form you can fill out to request an exemption. I'm not sure about FL - you'd have to contact them, or a broker may know. Sales tax is tough to escape legally, but obviously nice to take advantage of if you can. Also, you'll want to check with your home state to make sure they have an exemption if you live there but store your boat elsewhere.

Regarding DrB's message - I concur. Brokers are paid a percentage based upon the purchase price of the boat, so there is a conflict of interest with regards to decreasing the purchase price. Some are good and will work with you. Others won't.
Good posts, thanks again for the detailed responses; very insightful and helpful for me.
boats and Offers


IMHO, there is nothing wrong with making and offer on a boat, site unseen. Of course the offer is contingent on the boat being acceptable to the buyer, subject ot inspection, survey, sea trial, blah blah blah.

I bought my current boat site unseen. I live on Long Island. The boat was in Newport RI. Not around the world, but not close enough for me to just pop in, examine and then make an offer, only to have the offer get rejected. Instead I was very honest with the broker. I knew that I like the model, I had a very fixed budget and could not go above a certain price (which was significantly below the asking price). I told the broker that the boat looked good in the ad (don't they all?) and that I wanted to buy it, but I only had X dollars. He took my offer to the owner, who rejected it. The broker gave me that information and then told me there was additional gear that was not listed in the ad. Based on that I increased my offer a little, and it was accepted.

Now, with the boat being at a price I could afford, I started the real work of buying the boat. First I visited it in person. Then the survey and sea trial. Lastly was closing and delivery home.

The broker (Warren Trafton of Sailing Yachts Rhode Island) was excellent. The contacts were very clear that the buyer (me) could back out of the deal at any time for any reason with no penalty.

So, make sure you get a similar contact, and then you can bid on boats without seeing them. If the boat is not as expected you can renegotiate or walk away.

Good luck,
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