Should you engage a broker when selling your boat? Is a broker really needed? YES

We are living in a scenario where everyone finds new ways to cut the middleman and deals directly with the buyer/seller. While this may appear as a quick way to save money, it can lead to a spoilt deal spiraling down in horror stories sometimes ending up in courtrooms instead of boat enjoyment, while the savings themselves are debatable!

Selling a boat is a complex task. Advertising, correctly pricing, screening prospects, showing the boat, collecting offers, negotiating, drawing up agreements, documenting, sea trials, and transferring funds are all part of the process. Most boat owners don’t have the time, experience or the training to deal with this, but a good professional broker does this process every day in the fastest and most efficient way!

It first seems like a waste of money, and owners sometimes much rather sell the boat directly using main free advertising channels mostly. In all fairness this could work but when one has to also consider the time and effort consumed and the risk of mistakes and disputes without using an intermediary. The risk lies in both the seller and the buyer, as when the exchange is carried out, especially in overseas transactions, both are risking to be exposed and vulnerable to abuse from the counterparty.

The broker is also there to protect everyone’s interest and is not just a salesperson with the purpose to simply sell the boat. He/She should ensure that the buyer is getting a fair and transparent deal, and protect both the seller and the buyer throughout the transaction. This is a crucial aspect especially when it comes to handing over of funds/possession of boat.

Another point to consider is the way the deal is bargained when the seller and buyer are dealing directly. Statistics show that in these cases the boat is sometimes sold at an average of 20% reduced price, due to vulnerability and inexperience of the seller, whereas a broker can keep a more solid ground.

Presenting the boat on media and maximizing exposure: 

Nowadays, the media used is varied and one’s boat can easily be diluted amongst the thousands of others on the market. A good broker would know where and how to best present the boat and would already have various channels systematically selected showcasing a variety of boats, with a specifically targeted audience. There are hundreds of websites showing boats for sale, and the best sellers use carefully selected ones and have dedicated websites of their own which are constantly being promoted and pushed towards the right selection of customers. These marketing activities are costly and would only make sense when the cost is absorbed by a selection of boats, as is in the case of a broker. Also, photos, videos, virtual tours, would be professionally taken and inventory carefully prepared to best showcase the boat so that the boat stands out in the crowd of other poorly presented boats.

Dealing with enquiries:

As enquiries come in, the person replying to the calls, emails or even personal visits to the broker’s office, would be trained to handle such enquiries properly. Questions raised by the client would be properly answered and the broker would know when the right moments are to push for the sale. The professional approach is appreciated by serious buyers and build confidence in them to buy the boat in question, whereas the same boat presented amateurishly could remain unsold just because the enquires are poorly handled or simply because the owner who preferred not using a broker, has no time or the know-how, to deal with enquiries properly and efficiently.

Preparing the boat for viewing:

So, after all the effort in promoting the boat and finding a possible buyer for it, the buyer contacts the seller and after a series of questions answered, the buyer agrees to invest his time to view the boat. This means that sometimes the buyer is travelling overseas and usually with his family too so as to maximize the return on the time and effort invested. The seller needs to appreciate that this is a costly exercise for the buyer and the least he/she could do is to present the boat properly. Sometimes buyers turn up and find the boat dirty, still covered, with private possessions all over the place, with dirty bilges and stinky interiors. As one knows very well, the first impression is crucial in the buying process and once the first impression is spoilt, it is very hard to win the buyer back. A good broker is trained to show the boat in the best possible way and also go that extra step and make the buyer feel welcomed and appreciated for making the effort to view the boat. He should be knowledgeable about the technical features as well as the boat’s history, so as to be able to possibly answer any questions raised, courteously and also precisely. It is accepted that some questions would not be answered during viewing though and in such cases, the broker should take proper note of these questions and get back to the buyer soonest possible.

Following up and drafting an agreement:

Once the viewing is concluded, the seller should find the right time and way to follow up on the viewing. This step is important as it could very well be the push that the buyer needed to bite into the deal. A seller who does not follow up on a viewing could come across as a disinterested seller and could make the buyer feel unappreciated. There is a fine line however between following up and pestering. The latter could very well annoy a buyer and ruin the possibility of a sale. The owner, being a busy person dealing with different aspects in his daily life, could forget to follow up or maybe does not feel the need to do so or worse does it all wrongly, and the experience of the right broker could be the difference needed to make the deal happen. The broker will also need to be able to draft an agreement which closes all loose ends and defines the process from that point onward till the conclusion of the deal while protecting the buyer and seller throughout, and acting as the intermediary for all the process.

Assistance with surveys:

It is very well recommended that the buyer inspects the boat in detail before buying it. The buyer needs to see transparency in order to build trust in the seller and the boat. Consumer behavior studies show that the buyer finds that the seller is too personally involved to show a clear picture of the boat’s condition. The broker, especially in case of buyers not being local, should be professional enough to point towards the right surveyor to check the boat for the buyer. The purpose of the survey is to get a true picture of the boat’s condition and the surveyor should point out all boat’s defects, damages and attention required. The survey report should be at the discretion of the buyer and as detailed as he needs it to be. The broker’s job here is to make the boat available and the survey happen to the buyer’s requirements while ensuring that the seller is being protected and the boat not damaged in the process. Some buyers request that a surveyor goes through the boat while the boat is in the water, while other buyers might request for an out of water survey and a sea trial with authorized engine representatives too. Here the broker should have the experience to assist in all matters and organize accordingly, transparently and objectively.

Presentation of survey and dealing with points requiring attention:

Once the survey results are presented, the broker should study and go through report so as to be able to tackle any difficulties the buyer might have. The owner himself is probably too proud and defensive with his boat to admit certain faults it might have. A broker on the other hand, should be professional enough to accept these “faults” and be able to find ways to rectify them and negotiate with all parties concerned accordingly. This could require that the sales agreement be revised so as to take these “faults” into consideration and possibly negotiate them to be rectified. There is no sale that is the same as another and the broker should be able to handle any aspect that comes up, in the same professional and transparent way.

Handling of documents/funds:

There is a crucial aspect in every deal which sometimes comes at a gridlock because of lack of trust within the parties. The situation would have a buyer who needs to pay the seller and the seller who needs to let go of the boat and the right documents. Keep in mind that both parties could eventually not be in a position to meet personally for this so the exchange gets even harder to affect safely. The buyer might also not be aware with what he should get when buying the boat, and what documents would be necessary for a safe ownership. This gets especially complicated when loans are involved and need to be cleared before transfer of ownership can take place. This is another stage where a good and reputable broker comes in very useful. The broker is the common ground between the two parties and therefore should be easier to trust with the handover. He/she should be used to safely transfer funds and boat with documents to, in escrow whilst the exchange takes place. The broker has the obligation to handle this transfer safely so every party is protected throughout the process. The buyer might also need assistance with registering the boat in his name so as to finalise the purchase and the broker is to avail him/herself for this, as required.

Boatcare Trading Ltd is a family oriented yachting company headed by avid yachting enthusiasts and operating since 2006. The firm has been involved in numerous international boat sales with a fleet of hand-picked and carefully selected boats marketed through all the right media channels with proper and dedicated promotion while working closely with other brokers for an even wider coverage, furthermore, operating on a No Sale-No Fee basis.

Contact Details:

+356 21388050 / +356 79300680