Buying a sailboat – 3 tips to make your search and purchase easier…

20th, August 2013

Picture of Journey Nautilus Sailing Boat

For the past 8 months we have been searching for a Catalina 42 sailboat to purchase to use for our liveaboard courses in the Sea of Cortez. After years of sailing in the area, on numerous vessels, we had an excellent idea of what we were looking for. The Catalina 42 tri cabin boat met all of our needs and requirements and at just the right price point. Here are some tips, learned from our boat purchase…

1. What do I need and want in a boat?

Decide exactly what your needs and wants are. Narrow down your search to a couple of boat models and years. This will make your life significantly easier as you begin your search, rather than wading through thousands of sailboat listings. Make a detailed list of all the items you must have onboard, and items you’d like to have onboard. Do some retail research and write an approximate price next to each of these items. For example; you will need flares, so explore your options for purchasing these and record the best price you find. As you evaluate potential boats, you’ll want to add up exactly what this particular boat will cost you, to be ready for use. We’ve found that adding 25% to your budget at this point is wise (in addition to pricing all the individual items), and will easily be used up!

2. Find and use a broker

With our first few offers, we opted to simply work with the seller’s broker. Brokers are supposed to be unbiased, but we found that the seller’s brokers we dealt with definitely weren’t the best advocates for us. Get a broker who represents you. The broker’s fee will be paid by the seller after closing, so there is no extra cost to you. We dealt with a lot of brokers in our search and found that many of them left a lot to be desired. In the end we found an incredible broker, out of Newport Beach California. Our broker is an avid sailor, and knew a ton about sailboats, which proved really helpful in our search (he knew exactly what costs were for fixing or replacing items, and was even able to recommend specific places that could help us). You’ll want someone efficient, quick at getting back to you, and who will ultimately negotiate a great deal for you. Our broker was able to secure a much better price for the boat we purchased than we ever could have on our own.

3. Offer low and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate…

The used boat market is only now just starting to recover. Many owners are struggling financially, and are often eager to sell their boats. Start your offers low! We have one client, Marty, who has made numerous offers on sailboats in the last year. He has offered 50% of asking price on many boats, and had a handful of them accept. He ended up getting a beautiful 40 foot boat, that was worth about $80K, for $41K. Don’t be afraid to start low! You will find some owners that refuse to budge from their rather high rates. If you find owners like this, just move on. The right boat will come along at the right time and price.

Let us know if you have any boat search and buying tips that have worked well for you…



Categories: Sailboats

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