If 2014 means a houseboat acquisition or sale for you, I would like to share some tips that we have found helpful and useful for our brokerage clients over the years. We’ll look at this transaction from the both the seller and buyer’s sides. Many people do not realize that in addition to our Yacht Charter Company, Sailing School and Power Boating School, my husband Vic and I are also licensed yacht brokers. In nearly 30 years of assisting customers with buying and selling boats, we have seen almost everything. If you plan to sell your houseboat, here are some suggestions for you:
· Recognize there are three prices—the seller’s price, the buyer’s and the real price or fair market value. Circumstances may dictate other factors, but these three are always present to be sure.
· Be sure to maintain the vessel while it is for sale. It should be clean and inviting. Just because you want to sell the boat does not mean you should forget about it. Consider hiring a professional detailer to get the houseboat in “show” condition.
· Vessels in service are better to show and survey. Boats that are hauled out in the boatyard or shrink-wrapped will be more difficult to show. Therefore, they will be slow to sell. Having the boat in the water and “ready to go” makes a good impression.
· Personal items and equipment not being sold with the houseboat must be removed from the vessel. Also, remove all clutter from the boat
· Non-working equipment is a liability. Fix it or have it removed from the vessel. Be honest with your broker about anything that is not working properly.
· All safety equipment should be serviceable, updated and certified as required. (Be sure to check those flares in the back of the locker!)
· A competent captain is a must for sea trials. While the seller is responsible for providing the captain, the seller should not be the skipper. An independent and professional captain is your best option.
· Don’t paint over everything, especially in the engine compartment. Even new paint will not cover up problems with the boat. Address the problem at the source.
· If the engine or engines are claimed to be rebuilt, they must be logged and certified.
· The seller should not be involved in the process, especially if he or she is personally attached to the vessel. Have a professional broker handle the sale. If your plans for the year include a houseboat purchase, here are some questions we ask prospective buyers who engage our services:
· What is your budget range for your houseboat?
· What type of houseboat are you looking for?
· What boating experience do you have?
· What are your mechanical and maintenance abilities?
· Where do you plan to use your houseboat?
· Do you prefer single or twin engine power? Gas or diesel?
· What length or range of length are you seeking in your vessel?
· How about accommodations: number of state rooms?
· What are “must-have” features on your houseboat?
· Do you have a design preference?
· Is your financing in order or do you wish the assistance of your broker?
· By the way, there is no such thing as a “real deal” on a boat. You get what you pay for! Either you pay the money upfront for a nice, clean houseboat or you buy one that “needs work” and you write checks for the repairs later.
Whether you plan to buy or sell a houseboat in the near future, we encourage you to consider working with a licensed broker. Over the years we have seen the good things that take place with the help of a broker and—unfortunately—the not-so-good things that have happened without a broker looking out for your best interests. And that applies to both houseboat purchases and sales.
Even the most experienced broker, however, is no substitute for personal knowledge and experience. Don’t be like “Bob the boat buyer” (or “boat seller” for that matter). Whether you take a class or rent a few times, you will want to do your own homework regarding the values of various types of houseboats that may be of interest to you.
About The Author. This is a personal reflection about the boating life by Barb Hansen, co-founder and manager with husband Vic Hansen of Southwest Florida Yachts, N. Fort Myers, Fla. Southwest Florida Yachts charters luxury trawlers and sailing vessels. Southwest Florida Yachts Sales and Brokerage Services helps you find the ideal vessel to own. Florida Sailing & Cruising School provides liveaboard sail and power yacht instruction. Contact Barb Hansen at SWFYACHTS@aol.com or phone 1-239-656-1339.