By Andy Baker
Buying or investing in a boat is a multiple step process, and there are many things that will affect the end result. I will be discussing two of the very important steps that you will be undergoing while in your search for the perfect boat for you and possibly your family.
Step 1. Find a Good Broker.
When starting in this business I asked myself, what kind of broker would I want to work with if I were buying a boat? I found myself answering like this: I want to have a good feeling about the broker. I want to be able to trust and respect him as he is spending my money. He may lead me in a direction that I am not familiar with; if he does, keep an open mind and ask for an explanation. He should act in my best interest, looking outside the box if needed.
When you select a broker that you feel that you would like to do business with, keep an open mind. Do not be afraid to ask questions. A broker may not have all of the answers, but the willingness and ability to find those answers and get back to you is very important. For a good broker to be able to do his job, he must have a network of resources that he has developed during his years of service to the marine community.
My advice is to get to know the broker. Don’t just find a boat online that you may be very interested in, make an appointment and just be shown the vessel in question. Buying a boat is something that you don’t do every day. It is much like buying a second home, or better yet, a beachfront cottage!
Allow yourself some time to converse and become familiar with the broker. See what you may have in common as far as boating, although you don’t have to just talk about boats. You can talk about what he or she has done in the past, what kind of interests they have, what kind of boat they own or have owned, what kind of boat is their favorite and why, and what kind of boating experience they have they acquired over the years. This information will give you a good sense of this person’s background in the marine industry and how they will be able to help you with your selection. Keep in mind, you will be spending a fair amount of time with this person. Buying a boat can be stressful at times, and there’s no reason to be butting heads with your broker.
A good broker is one who is looking out for you. Whether you’re buying or selling, you need to have confidence in him or her, and be comfortable enough to trust him or her. As we all know, if you own the boat, it is worth a lot. If you are buying it, you are at the other end of the scale.
A good broker will give you an honest opinion of where the value is and if it may be a good fit for you. You don’t want to make a substantial purchase that you are going to be unhappy with in a few months.
Step 2 – and equally important – Find a Good Surveyor!
When you finally get to the point of having selected what you’ve determined to be the right vessel and you decide to make an offer, you will want an experienced and knowledgeable marine surveyor to inspect the boat. The surveyor is working for you, and you will want the best representation you can get from him as well. Also, most financial lending firms and insurance companies will want a survey before committing to a loan or insurance coverage.
Surveyors, as in many other trades, are numerous. Make sure the Surveyor that you choose is familiar with and has knowledge of the type of boat you have selected. You should do a little homework to be comfortable with your selection of a surveyor. Don’t be afraid to ask around for referrals. The fact that a friend knows a surveyor doesn’t make him a good one. Ask for the surveyor’s certifications and how long he or she has been in the business, and ask for his or her referrals as well.
When contacting a surveyor, get an explanation of what tests and procedures they are going to do to the boat, in the water as well as on the hard. It’s also very important for you to be present when the survey and sea trial is being done. A survey is not only to satisfy the requirements of an insurance company or bank. It’s also an educational opportunity for you – a chance for you to get to know the boat and its systems from a professional that can explain them to you and comfortably answer your questions.
The bottom line is that having a good broker and a good surveyor on your side will definitely save you money in the long run.
Andy Baker is a Managing Broker at Springline Yacht Sales in Mystic, CT. He races on Wednesday nights with the Thames Yacht Club and serves as Commodore of the Cruising Club of New England. He owns a Hunter 460.