Buying my used boat: buying guide in 10 moves

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used boat
I’m buying my used boat – 10-step buying guide

I buy the boat used. Okay, but how to do it? Step by step, here is the road to buying a used cruising boat. An account full of useful tips if you are thinking of taking the plunge. From the initial choice to the clichés to dispel, from the importance of being able to read between the lines in ads, to the appraisal, to the contract. A real “bible” to buying the bargain boat.

Used boat – 10-step buying guide

1) Used boat: What boat do I need?

The first step toward buying a new boat is assessing how you will use it. At first you will dream, but then, slowly, the dream will turn into reality. And let’s dispel a myth. It is not necessarily the case that the boats of yesteryear are better built than those of today. If we set aside the beauty category, each design generation (say, five years) brings innovations that make the boat more comfortable, more livable, and easier to steer with a smaller crew. Development and technological innovation is constant. You are looking for a comfortable cruising boat for family vacations. It may be better to choose a newer model….

2) How much money do I need?

Once you have determined the type of boat (pure cruiser, fast cruiser, sport boat, catamaran, historic…) you will have to deal with your savings. It is most important to keep in mind that your budget should not be calculated only for the expense of the boat purchase. You will need to consider the costs of routine maintenance (mooring, insurance, hauling, launching, hull, antifouling) and also those for the various refitting jobs that are never lacking on a used boat. And then expertise, brokers, agency fees, contingencies. The good rule of thumb is to consider at least 20 percent more than the cost of the boat….

3) Where to look for it on the web

Unless the boat of a lifetime greets you on a dock with a “for sale” sign, today the boat is searched for on the Internet, of course after flipping through the latest pages of the Sail Newspaper, in the “Buy&Sell” section or on the classifieds marketplace at www.giornaledellavela.com. Some other reliable sites: www.mondialbroker.com, www.inautia.it (the Italian version of Cosasdebarcos), www.yachtworld.it.

4) The importance of the broker

Relying only on the Internet is not a good idea. An experienced broker, operating within a large marina, may be aware of boats that are not yet on the market because the owner has not yet made up his mind to sell, but he may accept an offer; he will still be able to help you, especially at the beginning, to navigate your way through a jungle of offers; he can take you to visit boats for sale.

5) Watch out for VAT!

The price is almost always indicated on the ad. Check whether the price is inclusive of VAT or exclusive of VAT. If the price is exclusive of VAT, it means that the seller is an entrepreneur and therefore the boat still has an active lease (and therefore the formal owner is the leasing company and you will have to add the remaining principal of the lease to the asking price), or the seller is a charter company.

6)Charter boat, yes or no?

Many people have a negative prejudice about boats used for charter. A myth to dispel. Large charter companies tend to offer their clients only relatively new and well-equipped boats on which they do constant maintenance. The boats sold thus have many hours of sailing but only 5 or 6 seasons behind them: for the same price, they are newer than the boats sold by private individuals, and the systems are certainly all working and well checked. To consider, however, whether you are okay with a layout with multiple cabins or a furling mainsail…

7)Used boat: Project year and price

If you are looking for a production boat, inquire on specialized sites or look for a boat test in the Sailing Newspaper. There you will find two data that should not be overlooked: the year of the project and the price of the new boat. It is possible, in fact, that the boat you are offered was launched at the end of the life of a design and is therefore built on less modern criteria than a boat of the same year but an expression of a more recent design. Ideally, it is best to buy a boat launched between one and two years after the model launch, so that the shipyard has had time to realize any design flaws and has corrected them. The price of the new boat is certainly an indication of the overall quality of the project.

8)The sketch of the shipowner

In the course of a visit, you will never be able to understand what is wrong with the ship, but you can get a sense of the owner. This is why the general level of care and cleanliness is important-I recommend looking under the dunnage at the condition of the bilges, the level of oxidation of the valves and sea intakes. The owner who does not like his boat usually does not take care of the interior. Steer clear in this case!

9)Used boat: Watch out for broker’s commissions

Before writing the guarantee check to the broker (if he has brokered for you), first get him to tell you what his commissions are (usually between 3% and 5%). If the offer is accepted, the broker will send you a draft of a preliminary contract of sale. The preliminary contract commits both the seller and the buyer to enter into the contract of sale at the agreed price by a certain date.

10)Okay, the appraiser is right

In the meantime, it is advisable to commission a technical verification from a trusted appraiser at your own expense. The commitment to buy is contingent on the successful completion of the appraisal. It is advisable that the appraiser is also known and respected by the seller or broker who conducted the negotiation: if the name is approved before the appraisal, in case of problems the appraisal cannot be challenged.

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