Tips On Buying Your Boat, From An Absolute Beginner
What was your opinion of a yacht broker before you started buying your boat and what is your opinion now?
My opinion was as you’d expect. A yacht broker would fulfil the stereotype of an estate agent, but on water! My fear was quickly dispelled and my experience of yacht brokers has been a positive one. Boatshed yacht brokers have a genuine desire to assist people in fulfilling their yachting dreams. My experience is that all are fellow boat lovers and they take great pride and enjoyment in their work.
What do you think people's general impressions are, of yacht brokers?
Much the same as my general impression was before I met a broker (see above).
Which part of buying your boat did you find the scariest?
Receiving the surveyors report. I feared the boat I was hoping to buy was no longer a viable option for me, but given my broker had provided such thorough details, there were no nasty surprises and the boat was mine shortly after.
What did you learn in your boat buying experience, that you'd apply when buying another boat?
Do as much research as you can. Go to the Boatshed archive and compare the boat you are interested in to others of the same make and model. Search other brokerage websites and compare what the same boat is going for somewhere else and try and work out why. A forensic eye for detail from looking at photos and reading descriptions will assist you inworking out what other owners of the same boat have adapted and changed. Even if it were just an additional portlight or having a slightly different running rigging configuration, these alterations may signify that the boat you are interested in could benefit from the same changes. It may also help in confirming that your desired boat is well equipped, suitably priced and has been taken good care of.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be curious. Know that people who love boats love talking about boats too. There are no questions that are silly, so ask away. I lost count of how many times I pointed to things and asked my broker what they were and I was always met with humble enthusiasm and an eagerness to help.
Write a list of what is most important to you and what you’re willing to compromise on. Unless you’re buying a new or almost new boat, there will be compromises. Buying a boat is like buying an old house – it’ll always need work and maintaining. Nonetheless, completing ongoing work can be one of the joys of boat ownership, as you emotionally invest in making your boat just right for you. So, prepare to get your hands dirty and know it’ll rarely be plain sailing but all part of your boat journey, whether you’re going somewhere in your boat or not.
Choose the right broker and be cautious if buying direct from the owner, which is not something I’d recommend. It’s worth being realistic from the start - boats require a lot of maintenance and you want to buy through someone who will be honest with you about the boat’s flaws. Buying direct from the boat owner may be quicker, but the risk that you’ll end up buying something that wasn’t truthfully advertised is very high. A yacht broker has a reputation to keep and you want someone who demonstrates honesty and integrity. A Boatshed yacht broker will always be completely transparent about the condition of a boat and will always make sure that you're fully aware of what you're taking on. Alongside supporting their clients with a good sale, they want buyers and sellers to have a trouble-free experience and ultimately get joy from boat ownership.
Join groups or associations related to your boat. Most boat makers have a social media presence and even boat manufactures that are no longer in business still have active websites, which can be a great place to gain information.
Always have a survey. It is optional but strongly recommended. I still refer to the surveyor’s report I had completed for my boat. Previous owners’ surveys help me understand my boat’s weak points and what work has been undertaken or not. I regret not having the engine surveyed just to save a little pre-sale costs, as it could’ve saved money in the long term, so arrange the surveys and complete the sea trial.
Familiarise yourself with the boat’s history. An organised boat owner would’ve kept receipts of work carried out or items bought. These will assist you in working out what you need to do. Without any paperwork it’ll be a constant guessing game of how old parts are, when the last oil engine change took place, when it was last antifouled, and so on. If you buy a boat that doesn’t have a paperwork trail, I’d suggest making one and documenting what you have discovered or carried out. It may not have any monetary value but it may be the thing that sways a buyer whether they go ahead with putting in an offer or not.
What top tips would you give to others, when choosing their yacht broker to sell their boat?
Look for a broker that is willing to invest significant time in getting to know you and your boat. A boat buyer will have many questions that a broker should be ready to answer, or willing to find the answer to in a timely fashion. This includes the not-so-desirable details that all boats have and require openness when selling. Continued contact with your broker after sale can be very helpful, especially if you are looking to buy another boat - so work on striking up a good professional relationship.
Check their social media profiles. You want your broker to be social media savvy, as this will provide excellent coverage of your boat being for sale. It can also reflect their reputation in the boat brokerage community and their eagerness to get the sale you are looking for. For the best example of a broker's social media presence, follow Boatshed Brighton and see how the expert, Tim Kingston, does this. This is the kind of exposure you are looking for.
A yacht broker with thorough knowledge and experience of all aspects of boat life is preferable. A couple of years of dinghy sailing won’t suffice. Get to know your broker and ask them how they came to selling boats. If they’re thorough like you’d hope, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time with them preparing the sale. A knowledgeable broker can also provide you with a learning experience, as well as a quick and efficient sale.
Look for a broker that can work around you. We’ve all had to adapt this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and good brokers have learnt to meet the needs of their clients, sometimes without even meeting face to face. There are many ways to develop effective communication with your broker, so pick one that suits you, whether that be conversations over Zoom, outside of normal 9-5 working hours, or preferring to talk over email. A good broker will be flexible. As long as the communication is there on both sides, the sale will be too.
Look at the length of time boats have been for sale with your broker of interest. Your hope is to see that boats sell in good time and are priced realistically. Bear in mind the season, as this may affect the reason that boats aren’t selling as fast as you’d expect, but a knowledgeable broker will know the market and will give helpful tips and suggestions in regards to price and times to sell. They will also know how best to advertise a boat to the desired buyer. Tip: See when a boat has been added to a brokerage website then check how much they are promoting its sale on social media. If the boat has been for sale for a year and there have been no recent posts promoting its sale online, then maybe the broker isn’t as proactive as you’d like them to be.
My first boat purchase was a great success and I have no plans to sell soon. When that day comes, I will return to Tim Kingston from Boatshed Brighton. He fulfils all the desirables from a broker and I trust that he will not only get the sale I desire for my boat, but will lead me onto finding the next boat that is right for me.
For more buying or selling guidance and friendly help, call Tim on 0044 1273 005472 or 07920 022540. Or email at email@example.com