By Matt Leduc, Latitude Yacht Brokerage, LLC
Good boats, that are priced right, with motivated sellers, sell first. The longer you wait, the more the inventory gets picked over and your choices are reduced to boats that may be overpriced or don’t show well, or boats with issues.
In many markets, new boats sales have been very soft since the market recession in 2008. New boats have not been put into the aging fleet, like they have been in the past. It is very rare to find a boat that is two to seven years old because of this fact. If you are looking for a pre-owned boat that is less than 10 years old, you better start the process ASAP! If you are looking for a brand new boat that is being built at the factory or in the dealer’s inventory, now is the time to buy! The boat will need to be customized, commissioned, calibrated and sea-trialed before it is handed over to you. The earlier you commit to the boat, the quicker the builder and dealer can schedule your delivery. Better to have your new boat delivered in the early spring rather than the late summer.
So, how do you get the best boat for you and your family? Start your relationship with your yacht broker now. Do not wait until the spring. Do your homework, look at boats online and get out there and see them early. The highest amount of inventory is in the late fall and early winter. You may find it challenging to handle the cold and the short days, but it will pay off in the end with a great boat.
The winter boat shows are a great place to meet brokers who know the local inventory. Get to know them, interview them and select the one you like best. A good broker will not only know their own inventory, but also the entire market segment of boats similar to their own, or boats they have sold in the past. Challenge them to give you several boats to consider and vet them through your needs and requirements. If, in the end, they put two or three boats that meet the mark, they have helped you through step #1.
Don’t look at one boat at a time with every broker in the state. Use your own broker, use one car and schedule a day to look at four to six boats in one day. It is the most efficient use of time and resources to make progress through finding the boat. You will also have your thoughts fresh in your mind as you go from one boat to the next. Once you find her, it is not over. After all of that, it has just begun! Now you bring in the human element of the sales process. Two opposing forces now need to come together and agree on a deal. Experienced brokers have bought and sold hundreds if not thousands of boat through their selling careers. Make an official offer, with dates, contingencies and a deposit.
Without these details, in black and white, there can never be a deal. Good brokers make deals happen. If no deal can be made, because you are doing the deal in the fall or winter, you can continue to look or wait it out and come back to her. Time is on your side, working for you, not against you. This is a huge advantage for the buyer that can only be leveraged in the fall and winter. The closer you get to spring buyers come out in droves, and you’ll be competing with other buyers looking for the same boat. There is nothing worse than going through the above, finding the boat you love and discovering that she is Sale Pending!
You have agreed on a deal. The boat is out of the water and buried behind 100 other boats waiting to go in the water in the spring. How do you find out if she is in good condition and her systems work? Major investigation can still be made while she is out of the water by a certified marine surveyor. All of the major structural components, and 12V and 110V systems, can be tested and turned on at this time. A detailed Decommissioned Systems Escrow Document will protect you and the seller for systems that could not be fully tested. Ask your broker for details on this document and how it has worked protecting buyers and sells of boats in the Northeast and cold climates for years.
Congratulations, you have purchased your next boat! Getting her ready through the off-season makes the winter go by faster, your spring more enjoyable, and provides a longer summer season on the water. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Matt Leduc is a yacht broker with Latitude Yacht Brokerage, LLC in Newport, RI. He has crossed the Atlantic, the Equator, weathered the North Atlantic, and sailed throughout the Mediterranean. Matt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.