Looking for a boat. Do I need a broker?

Discussion in 'Ask the Broker' started by boatman37, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. boatman37

    boatman37 Well-Known Member

    Jun 6, 2015
    2006 Crownline 250CR. 5.7 Merc BIII
    Previous: 1986 Sea Ray 250 Sundancer. 260 Merc Alpha 1 Gen 1
    5.7 Merc BIII
    Having no luck finding a boat locally (Pittsburgh area). There are only 2 dealers around here (actually 1, the Four Winns dealer gave up their dealership and are now just a repair shop with a few used boats). The other is a Sea Ray dealer. Found a few but have not received calls back on any of them. One was popyachts and still no return call or email after 2 days.

    Trying to stay within 150-200 miles from here. There seemed to be quite a bit near Catawba Island but without a list of places to go we ended up just driving around and stopping at the places we saw.

    Would a broker be something we should look into? Wife is skeptical about this. She thinks they will only call us about boats 1000 miles away or that it will cost us more money, etc. How do you find a good one? Especially around here where we can't even find boats for sale...lol
  2. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Active Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    I think in your case you can use a combo of yachtworld and boattrader. You can search by region. When you find something interesting, make a call and then go look at it. Unless you're spending big dollars, I don't think a broker will be that interested. Frankly, I can't figure out how many of them can afford to eat.
  3. NotHerDecision

    NotHerDecision Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Jun 28, 2016
    Houston, Texas
    2001 Sea Ray 460 Sundancer
    2014 Seadoo 155 LTD
    2105 Seadoo 130 SE
    2013 Mercury Dinghy
    Cummins 6CTA 8.3L
    My honest feeling is you need to look where there are the boats you want for sale. I read your interaction with another member about his boat being too far but I really don’t understand that. To be fair it would cost you and the wife a plane ticket, rental car, and transportation home. To look at it (and others in that area) probably under 1000.00. To get it back if it’s the one then another 2-3k.

    Trust me 4K is well worth finding the right boat, one someone has cared for and used. Boats are not like cars, you are looking for a needle in a haystack.
  4. boatman37

    boatman37 Well-Known Member

    Jun 6, 2015
    2006 Crownline 250CR. 5.7 Merc BIII
    Previous: 1986 Sea Ray 250 Sundancer. 260 Merc Alpha 1 Gen 1
    5.7 Merc BIII
    I see your point but spending an extra $3000 plus using up vacation time adds 10% to the cost of the boat. If it was a much more expensive boat that would be different.

    Found one in Erie PA I'm going to call about in the morning and might try to go see tomorrow or Saturday. I can find tons of $5000-10000 boats around here but not much newer than that. We did find a nice Crownline but it is a little smaller than we are looking for (250).

    We went to Catawba Island to go to where the boats are but without being familiar with the area we didn't have a list to go through so we just drove around and stopped when we saw one. We did have a list of 3 or 4 places but none of those places had anything. Went to Marine Max, Skipper Buds, and a few other places. So far I have only found 1 place in Erie and that is where the one I am calling about tomorrow. I'm going to try to get a list of 3 or 4 boat places to stop at but not even sure there are that many there.
  5. NorCal Boater

    NorCal Boater Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 24, 2008
    Covington, LA
    Cobalt CM23
    GM SB 383" Stroker" Alpha Gen I
    I wouldn't discount a broker. They won't cost you anything and if you don't like one....find another. Brokers work on commission. If you don't buy a boat they don't get paid. I smart broker will realize they are not just finding you this boat but rather they may be selling the next one for you and finding you another one.

    A good broker will listen to your needs and wants and if they are truly good they will bring you boats that will be of interest. Another thing about using a broker is they often know, or can get, information about a boat that you may not be able to get. They may be able to talk to the listing broker and find out that the seller is desperate and willing to let it go for a lot less than asking. They can also line up several boats for you to look at so you don't spend time just driving around. They may also know of a boat or boats that will be coming up for sale and you might get in before anyone else. They can arrange sea trial, surveys and make all of the offers and counter offers. They also have access to boats recently sold which can be valuable info. The asking price is just that....an asking price.

    Be cautious with Pop Yachts. When I retired I contacted them thinking I might like to sell yachts and boats as a retirement gig. I was not even a little bit impressed. I think all of their listed boats are priced very high.

    One last thing....even if you are using a broker you can still look for boats on your own online and if you find something you want to see let the broker set it up the viewing. Remember, the seller is paying them, not you. And a broker will work with you even if you are only spending $20-30,000. The more boats they sell the more they make and they sell more boats under $100K than they do over. Boats on Yachtworld are always broker listings. Boat Trader is usually private or dealer listing.

    Good luck and enjoy the ride....
  6. Handsome Transom

    Handsome Transom Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jan 26, 2018
    Penetanguishene Ontario Canada
    1989 SeaRay Sundancer 268 454 Bravo
    454 Mercruiser bravo drive
    There are good prices on used boats here in Georgian Bay Canada. Exchange rates ate favorable tobuoy now as well. My step dad moves boats to the US regularly as his business. He is a licenced professional captain. Brokers here known the ins and outs of handling the customs and immigration. If I were anywhere else i would look at brokers here because of exchange rates. Volume of available boats.and fresh water. Also a great place to do a boat shopping testing vacation. .
  7. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    I've bought and sold two boats through boatrader now. The regional searches are fantastic. I bought my 340 from 4 hours away and bought my 400 from 6.5 hours away. Taking a couple vacation days to make it all happen can be painful but in the end it's worth it to get a good boat. I've also met some very nice people and have seen some really cool marinas in the process.

    The shopping/searching should be part of the fun. Though in our climate it's hard to ignore the sense of urgency as we march toward the middle of our short boating season...
    mtnandy likes this.
  8. NotHerDecision

    NotHerDecision Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Jun 28, 2016
    Houston, Texas
    2001 Sea Ray 460 Sundancer
    2014 Seadoo 155 LTD
    2105 Seadoo 130 SE
    2013 Mercury Dinghy
    Cummins 6CTA 8.3L
    I don’t want to sound harsh but I do want to be 100% open and honest. Spending 3k extra and finding the right boat will be the best investment you make in a boat. If you are lucky and find one nearby that is in immaculate condition then you are seriously lucky. But most of us have to go further to get the right boat. I’m not discounting the 3k but in boat bucks it’s not much when you consider how much these toys cost to maintain. All boats have some level of deferred maintenance so make you you’re honest with yourself as to what this is and what it will cost to bring it up to spec.

    I keep my boat in mint condition as many do on this forum because we are enthusiasts. If you look at market values I would expect to list mine at the top of the market and I would get it but it would take the right buyer. If you shop the bottom half of the price range you will find a boat and then spend much more performing the deferred maintenance then you would have buying near the top of the price range.
  9. CaptRonn

    CaptRonn Active Member

    May 25, 2016
    1999 Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge
    Mercruiser Horizon 8.1 MPI
    90% of brokers make the other 10% look bad.

    Don't waste your time.

    Finding the right boat will take months, and patience. The market is full of junk with sellers (owners and brokers) who will misrepresent what they are selling in hopes of finding a ill informed buyer.

    Use craigslist and boat trader and watch areas that interest you. Walk the docks at marinas, some boats there may be for sale or have an owner thinking of selling. Network with fellow boaters.

    Patience is the key, the right deal will come along.
  10. Creekwood

    Creekwood Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 26, 2009
    Oakville and Georgian Bay, Ontario
    '97 330 Sundancer, Raymarine C80 suite with radar, Mercury 310 Hypalon w/8hp Yammie 2stk
    2X 454 carbs w/ vDrives
    And get a survey.
  11. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    To address your question about using a broker, there are 2 things you need to understand:

    This isn't a real estate transaction and there is no MLS with a national formula for splitting commissions. Whomever you call as a buyer's broker has to call the listing broker and negotiate a commission split before he will show you a boat that his brokerage doesn't have listed. This means almost all brokers will only show you listings where he gets the full commission. Engaging a buyer's broker to do a search for you almost never works out to your advantae and almost always leads to even more frsutration.

    Second, you are looking at a price point that just isn't financially rewarding enough to get a broker to really go to work for you unless he has the listing and the boat is easy to show, like sitting outside his office window. A $35,000 boat has a $3500 commmission and that is split between the broker and his brokerage and t he brokers share of that is usually $700-$1000. Then if the commission must be split with another broker who has the listing, that number can be 40% of the full commission, so the guy you call and ask to find the boat of your dreams for you only nets $280-$400 on the sale. That isn't enough to get him interested in investing a lot ot time on internet searches and phone calls. Sitting in a beach chair on the dock outside his office giving away free bottles of water and business cards hoping for a customer looking for a $500,000 boat probably interests him more.

    The only exception here is that the Marine Max system allows any of their brokers anywhere in the country to sell any boat MM has listed anywhere under a known formula. The salesman gets credit for the sale but the deal is owned by the store that has the listing......there is no commission split. But this isn't much help if you don't want to transport a boat or run one to your location.

    My advice is to do your own search then contact the listed broker shown on the boats that interests you. This is one area where the internet has really helped buyers. Yachtworld, Boat Trader, and similar sites are free, don't overlook forums with classified listings....have you looked at the classifieds on CSR or Boat/US? And don't forget Craig'slist. Walk the local docks and look for "For Sale" signs; walk into any local brokerage offices and ask to see a list of their offerings.

    Be realistic........you have drawn 2 pretty narrow circles on your next boat: Cost must be in the mid $30K's and the boat must be local. The realistic part here is that you need to be prepared to look for quite a while before you find something and you need to be ready to pull the trigger buy contracting for the boat as soon as you see one that suits you.
  12. CliffA

    CliffA Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Dec 29, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    2001 Sea Ray 340DA
    Name: 'Happy Place'
    4.5kW West. Generator
    Purchased Nov. 2014
    Fresh Water Use
    Twin Merc. 6.2L (MPI)
    Raw Water Cooled
    V-Drive Transmissions
    IMO don't just 'walk the docks' looking for 'for sale' signs and don't just ask the people in the marina office about boats for sale....ask people that actually keep boats at the marina...they are the best source to know which boats are for sale and which ones 'might' be for sale....they are usually much better informed on this than the people in the office....

    at least this has been my experience at marinas on our lake...

    good luck....

  13. Boater420

    Boater420 Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2015
    Clearwater, FL
    '97 330 Sundancer
    Westerbeke 4.5BCG
    Twin Merc 454's
    I spent nearly two years looking for my current boat. I was somewhere near you in price point and was also looking nearby (100 miles or less). I live in FL, you would think the search would have been easy, right? NOT!

    There were plenty of 330's out there, but they were beat, moldy, smelly, or neglected. When I did find one that looked good and was cared for properly, it either had out-drives, no generator, or wasn't fresh water cooled. This search continued on for months until I finally decided to expand the search area.

    I decided to try the east coast, so I expanded my search to 400 miles from home. The results were a little better but still nothing for a few months and then...there it was! My perfect boat was in Stuart, FL. She had everything I wanted except closed cooling.

    After doing some talking with the seller's broker, he mentioned the boat was on a canal in brackish water which meant the closed cooling wasn't as important to me. Further communication with the broker revealed there were no barnacles growing on the boat where it sat, and that the PO only had to have the bottom pressure washed to remove the algae growth.

    The boat only needed TLC, risers, and manifolds. It was listed at 40k, I offered him 30k, he declined the offer. I told the broker all of the things I saw that the boat needed, showed him a few comps in the area and brought my offer up to 32k, but told the broker, that was it, accept it or I walk. It was accepted the next day and the purchase began.

    You just have to be patient when it comes to purchasing a big boat.
    NorCal Boater likes this.
  14. scooper321

    scooper321 Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jul 4, 2015
    Baltimore, MD
    "Lollygagger" 2003 Sundancer 320
    Twin 5.7L Horizon Mercruiser (350 MAG MPI) V-drives
    Being in sales (but not boat sales), I may be a bit defensive. I'd say it's the other way around. It doesn't take more than a few bad apples to spoil the cart...
    Steve S likes this.
  15. dtfeld

    dtfeld Water Contrails GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 5, 2016
    Milton, GA
    410 Sundancer
    Axiom 12 MFD
    Cat 3126 V-Drives
    Keep in mind that brokered boats can carry tax implications. For us in Georgia, that is about a 7% hit. Usually casual sales (no broker) are cheaper transactions, so call your local licensing/registration people. They will know.

    BOB TYSON Active Member SILVER Sponsor GOLD Sponsor

    Oct 5, 2017
    2005 460 Sundancer
    Cummins 480 CE
    Ahh, the frustrations of trying to buy a used boat. I'm there as well. Its hard when you are excited about having a new-to-you boat. I will say that the process for us has been longer than anticipated but has been very educational as well. The process has altered my boat selection multiple times. It makes my wife and I drill down as to which items are truly important. Enjoy the shopping!
  17. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    I am sure there are a few bad apples in the brokerage ranks, however, I find brokers to usually be straightforward and honest. The bad rap comes from buyers expecting too much and either misunderstanding or being completely ignorant of the process.

    Consider the buyer who presented the broker with a 3 page list of detailed questions he wanted the broker to get answers for from his seller, not a reasonable request,

    Or the buyer who expected the broker to pretty much do all the due diligence before he would even go look at the boat. again, not reasonable,

    Then there is the commission split that must be negotiated between brokers on a co-broker deal before a broker can even show a boat to a prospective buyer. Do you really expect a broker to work for a sale when he cannot get compensated?

    I think there are probably some misunderstandings that create comments like "90% of brokers make the remaining 10% look bad". If buyers took the time to understand the brokerage process and did the simple things like confirm answers to any broker answered question as well as understanding the basic elements of contract law, then buyers would be lesss frustrated with brokers.
    scooper321 likes this.
  18. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    Took me about a year or so to find my current boat. While boat shopping can be fun, it’s also frustrating.
    Boattrader, Yachtworld, and Marinemax’s website are good places to check on a daily basis.
    Spread the word among other boaters you know about what you’re looking for.
    Go to boat shows. Lots of dealers/brokers have their listings at boat shows. Engage them in conversation, let them know what you’re looking for, and give them your number. Sometimes they come across a potential new boat buyer who has to sell their current boat in order to get the next one. Their old one could be exactly what you’re looking for. A sharp salesperson can put a deal together that makes everyone happy.
    Personally, I lean towards looking at boats listed by brokers or dealers to keep things professional and avoiding private sellers if possible. I had a few too many bad experiences with private sellers.
    A MarineMax salesman I had called about another boat at least 6 months earlier found my current boat for me. He stayed in touch over the months, knew exactly what I was looking for, saw in their computer system that it was coming in on a trade at another one of their stores in a different state and immediately called me. He was an aggressive and energetic salesman, made no bones about it, and once he knew I was a serious buyer he was on a mission to find me a boat before someone else did. I like that! It worked out perfectly for all involved.
    SteveMachine likes this.
  19. CaptRonn

    CaptRonn Active Member

    May 25, 2016
    1999 Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge
    Mercruiser Horizon 8.1 MPI
    You can rest assured I understand contract law. And you can also be assured I understand the "brokerage process". Misunderstandings? When someone misrepresents the product they are selling, or fails to disclose problems with their product, it's not a misunderstanding, it's fraud on their part.

    And I'm far from being ignorant of the process. I'm on my fifth large boat so I've spent considerable time in the market place and dealing with a multitude of brokers and sellers.

    Bottom line, I'm the customer, and I'm the guy holding the money. Want my business? Then they better get on the ball and earn it in an honest and ethical way.
    NorCal Boater likes this.
  20. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Active Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    You would need to get a call back from a broker to even start with fraud or misrepresentation. We looked at a boat last year, it was probably the right boat, but needed some updating. Guy never event took our information to follow up. Probably could have called me right before layup and I would have bought it.

Share This Page

Show Sidebar