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Old 01-06-2014, 05:21 PM   #1
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Brokers recommending surveyors

This subject has been bandied about on several different threads, so thought I would make a new one from my point of view. I'm a broker. When you individuals buy and sell a boat, it's usually just that one time for that one boat, but the way I think about it is "this person is going to want me to eventually sell that boat for them"- so I'm thinking further down the road. It's not unusual for me to sell the same boat 3 times. My record is 5 times on a 1978 48' Soverel before it finally sailed across the horizon, and has yet to return. So knowing this I want to make damn sure my client is buying a good boat, one that I can easily resell, so I'm looking way past closing the first deal. I want a GOOD survey too. Of course I only offer boats I've pre-surveyed myself so this saves a lot of surprises down the road.

Now, if a buyer comes to me and he (as they sometimes smugly do) say's "I've got my surveyor"-that's all and good, and I don't say a word, but many a time their surveyor sucked, and missed the most obvious things. MANY a time though, their surveyors were EXCELLENT, and I add those guys to my list of surveyors I recommend and would use myself. Those guys I will recommend when I'm asked. If a surveyor has done one type of boat many of times, they can save much time by going directly to the potential trouble area's. Those surveyors make sure my client is buying a good boat. (after 29 years of experience there's marques I just don't mess with and will refer buyers to brokers who do. Interestingly enough those operations are usually fictitious corporations and nobody will remember the brokers name if they sell you a turd. Heck, most people couldn't even tell you who the actual owners of the Corporations are IF they have a complaint). When they get "spanked" hard when caught selling garbage, they just start a new company with another fictitious name and it's business as usual.

So I DO recommend Surveyors if asked, and I like it when I am, because then I know I can happily sell that boat over and over as the years pass, which leads to repeat business and REFERRALS from happy clients.

With the collapse of the American economy starting in 06, the lion's share of boats have been going oversea's and most of the buyers don't even come here to see the boats at all. They trust their broker and the surveyor to find them the right boats, which they first see when the ship finally arrives. I haven't yet had one unhappy client.

Which leads to another thing American buyers should know- while your "thinking about it" and NIT PICKING (making outrageous demands to a seller) perfectly good boats, other buyers will buy these boats right out from under you, then they are loaded onto ships and will never be seen again on this side of the planet. So pickings are getting slimmer and slimmer. What's out there is what's out there, and time and accidents take their toll.

They aren't making anymore used boats, so what's out there is what's out there, and the latent defects of all these boats are already well known by educated brokers and surveyors. Most would be happy to tell you upfront what they are if you call either and inquire. If you don't see "new, new, new, and replaced, replaced, replaced" in listings- then YOU will be the person having to do it. Brokers don't forget to list the good stuff, and have LOT'S of photos to prove it.

I was at the Krupp Classic Car Auction this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, and there was lots of nice cars, and lot's of bad one's polished up to look good, (you don't get to drive them) but what really caught my attention- was this young girl walking around holding a puppy (which is a odd place for either!) as if to say "why would you want a old dog, when a new one you can train yourself is available?" I was wondering if her dad was a new car dealer or something, but that was the subliminal message I received. The reason I specialize in the boats I do? Because they always pass surveys with flying colors!
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Old 01-06-2014, 05:48 PM   #2
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The above extends to us in the financial side of the marine business, when it comes to recommending surveyors. We look for a long term relationship with our clients, and when we recommend a broker, surveyor, or lender, we do so because of the trusting relationship we have the those other professionals. We also received a tremendous amount of referrals from the same professionals we refer to.

We don't get 100% of the business that is referred to us, nor do the folks we refer to earn the referred business. At the same time, the referrals strengthen the professional relationships and leads to a better industry for the consumer.

The referrals given or received are always voluntary, and there are never any fees or spiffs for the referrals.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:05 PM   #3
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Honest boat broker and honest insurance broker! It's real nice to have you guys to learn from regarding your particular segment of industry. I read your posts fully... Carry on!!
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:21 PM   #4
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Pilothouse King and Paul, thanks for your insightful comments. I've had surveys done three times, using one surveyor for the first and second boats. On my current boat I used a certified surveyor for the hull and a CAT mechanic for the engine and transmission surveys.

I would take a recommendation on a surveyor from a broker who I had commissioned to help me on a purchase. I don't think I would accept a recommendation from a sellers broker. I would wonder about the allegiances between the selling broker, who is mainly interested in closing the deal, and "his" surveyor who may not be quite as thorough as I would want.

I interviewed at length the two surveyors I used on my current boat over the phone, then met with them over breakfast before the sea trial. I wanted to be very clear with what my expectations were because I was new to "bigger" boats and all their system and new to diesel engines and generators.

I feel they both did an excellent job, wrote detailed reports for me on their findings, and I was very happy with both of them.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:32 PM   #5
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I would take a recommendation on a surveyor from a broker who I had commissioned to help me on a purchase. I don't think I would accept a recommendation from a sellers broker. I would wonder about the allegiances between the selling broker, who is mainly interested in closing the deal, and "his" surveyor who may not be quite as thorough .
I agree.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:00 PM   #6
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Pilothouse King you are 100% correct. We purchased Ebbtide through a broker and were the third folks to purchase her through him. When we move to another boat he will list her for us. In addition we recommended him to our close friends who were looking for a new boat.

Pau Hana is my Insurance Broker. When we talked for the first time it was actually an interview sizing each other up. During the course of our conversation it was clear that he knew his business and was willing to discuss all the options available to us from he or his competitors. I have recommended him to my boating friends that are looking for insurance information.

As I get off my soap box let me add that no amount of glossy ads and slick commercials will ever beat integrity and honesty...they can only be earned.

Gentlemen thanks for what you do.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:06 AM   #7
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I would take a recommendation on a surveyor from a broker who I had commissioned to help me on a purchase. I don't think I would accept a recommendation from a sellers broker. I would wonder about the allegiances between the selling broker, who is mainly interested in closing the deal, and "his" surveyor who may not be quite as thorough as I would want.
I think your missing the point. The intent of a good broker is to sell the boat and develop a long term relationship. The good broker's desire to do this is the same regardless of whether he is the buyer's broker or listing broker. It is always critical that the buyer speak with the surveyor and develop their own opinion. It is just as critical that the buyer be a "good patient" in that he not turn over the lion's share of his due diligence to anyone else. The buyer needs to educate himself or it's "caveat emptor". A good broker is invaluable in that education before, during and after closing.
Why is due diligence so important? DD when talking of boats goes far beyond the limits of the economics of the purchase. You don't do your DD just to save yourself some money, you do it to save the health or lives of yourself and your crew. When you are on the water writing a check will not always suffice to mitigate or prevent a dangerous situation. Thurston Howell couldn't buy himself off that island but had he known basic hull repairs we never would have entertained the ageless question of "Ginger or Mary Ann?".
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:28 AM   #8
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During the dark time when I worked as a broker I would give a client a list of local surveyors. It was up to the client to pick amongst them. It was a list that all brokers at the agency contributed to and was about as valuable as a page from the Yellow Pages.

I never did see the name of the idiot that surveyed my boat so long ago. He came highly recommended by the boat's manufacturer. I can only hope he drowned. I sincerely hope it was painful.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:38 AM   #9
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When I bought my boat I used a surveyor suggested by the seller's broker but if I remember correctly, he suggested more than one. I did some research on the surveyor and everything said about him was good so I used him.
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:30 AM   #10
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During the dark time when I worked as a broker I would give a client a list of local surveyors. It was up to the client to pick amongst them. It was a list that all brokers at the agency contributed to and was about as valuable as a page from the Yellow Pages.

I never did see the name of the idiot that surveyed my boat so long ago. He came highly recommended by the boat's manufacturer. I can only hope he drowned. I sincerely hope it was painful.
Al - Severe! Don't let that "idiot" own ya energy. As it says in the Bible... turn the other cheek! Or... as is some times needed... find em and do em!!
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Old 01-07-2014, 03:23 PM   #11
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I think your missing the point. The intent of a good broker is to sell the boat and develop a long term relationship. The good broker's desire to do this is the same regardless of whether he is the buyer's broker or listing broker.
Daddyo, the operative word in your comments is "GOOD". I've run across good brokers and brokers who I would not bless with that description.

If I'm looking at a boat that is at a brokerage and talking with a selling broker, I'm going to be cautious and suspect that his main interest is in making a commission. He knows he's not likely to see me again and therefore do or say most anything to make the sale.

I have a lot of respect for the handful of brokers I know (and trust) but I've also run across some that I've caught lying to me. If they'll lie to me on a first contact with them, what's to keep them from giving me the name of a surveyor who is less than scrupulous and who may even be receiving a kick back from the selling broker.

Sorry to have to say this, but I've met some boat brokers who I would rank right down there with schlock used car sales men or women. That's a big reason why I contacted a broker I knew to act as my representative when I bought my current boat.
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:55 PM   #12
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Holy cow...another business where there's good and bad people in it!!!!!!!

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Old 01-07-2014, 05:44 PM   #13
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:46 PM   #14
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I was looking at a boat some years back and the selling broker recommended 2 surveyors to me. I met with both for coffee (at different times) to get to know them a little bit. Since it seems anyone can call themselves a surveyor I asked both about their backgrounds and what qualified them to work as surveyors, in both cases my inquiry caused a hostile response. So not only did I not use them, I also stopped any dealings with that broker and continued looking elsewhere.

I would never consider a sellers surveyor recommendation based on that experience.

There is an old saying about realtors that 20% of the agents sell 80% of the properties, the remaining 80% of the realtors fight over the remaining 20% of the properties trying to make a living. I think this also applies to yacht sales to some degree. Knowing as much as possible about who you're dealing with is every bit as important as knowing about what it is you intend to buy.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:07 PM   #15
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There is an old saying about realtors that 20% of the agents sell 80% of the properties, the remaining 80% of the realtors fight over the remaining 20% of the properties trying to make a living. I think this also applies to yacht sales to some degree. Knowing as much as possible about who you're dealing with is every bit as important as knowing about what it is you intend to buy.
I couldn't agree more and it applies to many professions. The key is finding the high protein dealers, brokers, agents, surveyors or mechanics etc and deal with them exclusively. The problem some folks have is they are too darn lazy to do the needed research and want the best served to them on a platter.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:57 PM   #16
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Daddyo, the operative word in your comments is "GOOD". I've run across good brokers and brokers who I would not bless with that description.

Sorry to have to say this, but I've met some boat brokers who I would rank right down there with schlock used car sales.
I agree the operative word is "good". No need to apologise, it's one of the main reasons I was willing to change careers after 28 years and start my brokerage.
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:11 AM   #17
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I agree the operative word is "good". No need to apologise, it's one of the main reasons I was willing to change careers after 28 years and start my brokerage.
That sounds like the brokerage I fell in with. I learned an awful lot. Emphasis on AWFUL.

We had some used car dealers interested in one of our boats. When they found out who owned the brokerage they left. Finally so did I.
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:31 AM   #18
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... there's marques I just don't mess with and will refer buyers to brokers who do. Interestingly enough those operations are usually fictitious corporations ... most people couldn't even tell you who the actual owners of the Corporations are IF they have a complaint). When they get "spanked" hard when caught selling garbage, they just start a new company with another fictitious name and it's business as usual.
They don't even have to start a new company. Look at the public record of lawsuits against one well known marque, Marlow for example, and see what happens when a problem comes up.

If there are enough layers with essentially the same name but with the right firewall in place, the seller mayexist only long enough to cash the check.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:26 AM   #19
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I find it rather telling that whenever a potential buyer has their own surveyor already picked out, the OP finds them to be "smug" about it.

A good surveyor is a good surveyor, no matter who might recommend them. It is rather foolish to assume that a surveyor is "good" just because of one recommendation, whether the recommendation comes from a broker, the seller, or anyone else (maybe a recommendation from someone you know well and absolutely trust would be the exception). Otherwise, get more than one recommendation, do some checking, find out for yourself.

Like they say in the AT&T commercials... It's not complicated.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:47 AM   #20
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I find it rather telling that whenever a potential buyer has their own surveyor already picked out, the OP finds them to be "smug" about it.

A good surveyor is a good surveyor, no matter who might recommend them. It is rather foolish to assume that a surveyor is "good" just because of one recommendation, whether the recommendation comes from a broker, the seller, or anyone else (maybe a recommendation from someone you know well and absolutely trust would be the exception). Otherwise, get more than one recommendation, do some checking, find out for yourself.

Like they say in the AT&T commercials... It's not complicated.
What I see all too often from my side is a buyer will bring their "surveyor" to vet the vessel; that "surveyor" will turn out to be a buddy who owns a boat, or a friend (with nothing better to do that day) that says he has some knowledge of boats. When the buyer comes to us for insurance and submits a survey, it's nothing more than a few pages of random data on the boat, with no real condition or valuation information.

Worse, the submitted survey will be an inventory list only based on the Yachtworld listing. I once had a client who stated (when asked for the survey on a mid 1990s 38' cruiser)- "Listen, I weigh darn near 400 pounds. I stomped on those decks- that boat is solid- don't need no survey."

You're right- it's not complicated.
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