A fellow walked into our office last week (no, this is not a joke) and asked about taking one of our liveaboard power boating courses. When I asked what size of boat he had handled in the past he said, “I’ve never even been on a large boat, but I’m in the process of buying a 50-footer!” Then “Bob” the boat buyer (not his real name) continued, “I was planning on taking your course next year, but since I’m buying the boat I need to take your class NOW!”
Interestingly enough, this scenario is not uncommon. We have talked to hundreds of “Bobs” over the years. After all, boat ownership is often a “dream” that casts a spell on prospective buyers! Sometimes the allure of buying a boat can be so strong that a person decides to buy a boat before they have any practical experience onboard.
Just flip through this magazine and take a look at all the beautiful houseboats. The boaters are attractive-looking and they look like they are having fun. The weather is beautiful and the waters are calm
There are at least a dozen questions that we often ask potential boat buyers. In the real-life case above, this gentleman would not be able to answer any of those questions prior to purchase. So how could he know what type and size boat is right for him? That’s the million-dollar question! That’s where an experienced, honest broker can help.
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.
If your plans for the year include a houseboat purchase, here are some important considerations regarding brokers:
The Market. Brokers know what’s currently available, prices of sold boats, the “story” behind the houseboat, financing sources and sources of insurance.
Paperwork. A broker will coordinate all of the paperwork involved in a houseboat transaction. They know the best way to make an offer on your behalf, how to handle sales or use taxes, how to smooth out the closing process and how to make the U.S. Coast Guard documentation run smoothly.
Survey. Brokers can be a great help in the survey. They know the local market and can make meaningful recommendations, obtain quotes, interpret findings and lead the negotiations that may result from the survey findings.
Before And After. Brokers are with you after the sale. They coordinate any work on the houseboat that is needed, assist in finding a slip and even help in coordinating delivery of the houseboat to your chosen location.
If you’re planning to sell your houseboat, here are some key considerations for having a broker represent you:
Knowledge. The brokers’ knowledge of the market is an important resource. They can help price your houseboat, while helping with your transaction timetable.
Tools. Brokers have access to a multitude of marketing tools to let the market know your houseboat is for sale. They carefully assemble the specifications, photos and history of your boat.
Representation. Brokers represent you and your houseboat in the marketplace. They show your boat to prospective buyers and keep you informed along the way.
Knowhow. Brokers have their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace and continually keep you apprised of those conditions and how they impact your sale.
Advice. Brokers can help you determine the best way to make your houseboat more presentable to the market.
I would highly recommend a broker for sales and purchases of boats 30 feet or larger. Whether you are buying or selling a houseboat, a good broker can be a lifesaver and can actually save you both money and headaches.
Even the most experienced broker, however, is not a 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 houseboat a few times, you will want to do your own homework regarding various types of vessels that may be of interest to you and their values.
This is a series of personal reflections about the boating life by Barb Hansen, co-founder and manager with husband Vic Hansen of Southwest Florida Yachts in North 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 for you to own. Florida Sailing & Cruising School provides liveaboard sail and power yacht instruction. Contact Barb Hansen at email@example.com or call 239-656-1339.