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Old 11-22-2019, 06:09 PM   #1
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I know there is no answer carved in stone but I am curious.. What does the average broker recommend marking up over what the owner is willing to accept. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from a sailboat I tried to buy 10 years ago... The asking price was 88K and I offered 75. The broker wouldn't present my offer to the owner. The boat sold 30 days later for 68K. I know sellers situations change but I am looking for average numbers. Thanks.
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Old 11-22-2019, 07:03 PM   #2
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Mr. GH. Depends on the owner, broker and the boat AND the owner's circumstances. I looked at a 50' Marine Trader about 15 years ago. She was in very rough shape but at that time I was willing and able to put in some sweat equity to bring her "up to snuff". I offered what I thought was a fair price (for me) given her sad condition. Happened to be about half of the asking price (Yup she was rough). My offer was refused so I walked away. She sold about 6 months later for 1/2 of what I offered. Bad taste? Just a bit but we eventually purchased a far superior vessel. More $$, for sure but well worth it.


I'm sure many TF members have bought and sold boats and every sale is different.


Watch this space for future developments....


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Old 11-22-2019, 08:04 PM   #3
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A good broker wants the boat sold to get his commission. While there may be the thought of some wiggle room, the percentage is likely based on how hot or cold the market is. The second part has to do with what the owner wants and whether it's realistic (marker value). While the broker works for the seller, he really works for himself. The price doesn't matter if the boat doesn't sell. If the owner has an unrealistic expectation, I doubt the broker will add to it. It just makes the percentage off of listing that much greater.

The other consideration is to write the offer through the listing broker. His commission now doubles. If you want to tweak him, ask if he would rather write a reduced price offer or split a full price commission with your broker?

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Old 11-23-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
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I made an offer on a boat about 25 years ago that was well below the asking price. It was rejected without even a counter offer.


I wrote a letter to the seller explaining my situation (single dad, three kids, wanting to spend time on the water with them, etc.,) and included photos of my 12 year old bowrider that looked absolutely like knew. I explained in the letter that I could tell the seller took pride in his boat and would like it to go to someone who would care for it.


I resubmitted my original bid with the letter and the seller accepted it.


If you don't ask, you don't get.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:26 PM   #5
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What Mr. RT and Mr. GH have described (price instability) is a "classical" indicator of what economists label as "Inefficent Markets." Another indicator is gross differernce in knowledge between buyer and seller as to the particular product - compare boat buying to car buying - brokers know so much more than the "average" buyer (like me) - not the seasoned TF people though. Finally, "non-existant or limited data" is another indicator of inefficent markets. Compare data available in deciding to buy/invest $40K into Verizon stock, or a $40K 40 ft Mainship trawler. Stock markets weren't always efficient, recall the early 70s when only the broker had data. These things help explain why is seems it is so hard to sell a boat compared to stocks, cars, toys, electronics, houses. Then there is my favorite - oriental rugs, now there is an inefficent market if there ever was one!!
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Old 11-23-2019, 01:51 PM   #6
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Every used boat deal is different. Situations change. Expectations change. I have seen reasonable offers turned down and 12 months later stupid offers excepted. You also never know when the seller has had a change in health, which then changes his urgency in selling.
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Old 11-23-2019, 02:31 PM   #7
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Never tell your broker the price you want to get. If you do that you will almost always sell the boat for less. So ask the broker what comparable boats are selling for. He should be able to figure that out from looking up actual recent sales prices on Soldboats, the broker only feature of Yachtworld.

Then add about ten percent to that. You will always get lower offers than what you are asking for. What you want is a way to give a little and get a little so you and the buyer agree on a reasonable price. You can reject out of hand offers way below your asking price but brokers should always make that your choice rather than his.

The last boat of mine that I sold, the original offer from the ultimate buyer was 25% below what I was asking. I kept rejecting those offers until he came within about 15% of what I was asking. Then we negotiated back and forth until we agreed on about 10% below my original asking price.

I was happy with that price and I think he was as well.

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Old 11-23-2019, 03:38 PM   #8
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My observation is that boat sales price is often a function of time, especially with trawlers where each one tends to be a little unique vs more recent mass market boats that may be more constantly available and in interchangeable condition.

When a boat is first listed, it may get relatively high offers, because there are some folks out there that have been looking for something exactly like the new offering. These buyers may be willing to pay a little more for something that checks all the boxes vs a better deal on something they want less.

After the initial market exposure, any pent up demand from this type of buyer is gone. Things are in a steady state. New buyers are more likely to be more willing to balance price and desirable attributes. And, even that discriminating buyer opened the adverts and saw at least one matching boat. They haven't been on the market long enough to know it is a rare find and that they should pay a premium or will need to compromise.

The upshot is, I think, sellers might be well advised to be patient for a month or maybe two, depending upon season, to see about the focused buyer. And, more compromising, price-sensitive buyers might be well served not to get frustrated by a turned down offer, and just to let the boat age on the market a bit and try again.

A few months time is a buyers friend and seller's enemy. I think.

I dont think buyers have any reason to be upset at sellers for taking less later. I think they should just recognize that they, themselves, missed an opportunity to try again. Never leave a failed negotiation badly -- just let the seller know you can't go higher right now and are going to keep looking for now. Sellers should do the same.

I purchased my present boat months after making my initial offer -- and for less than that offer (I went down).

The seller was 90% through a major refit. All done, the boat is now a gem. Where it was -- it needed a very sophisticated buyer and one who could put some money in and take some risks

After having the engines professionally rebuilt, he did the final assembly in-boat and missed a timing mark on the auxilary gear shaft that had injector timing off. He also goofed a head gasket leaving a minor leak on the engine. He hadn't bothered to repaint the engines -- and the rebuild paperwork was lost between he and the broker. Most buyers saw a smokey, leaky, dirty engine. Given his life circumstances, he didnt want to finish the job and take care of these or other details.

Ultimately, I did buy a boat that was almost fully refitted. And, I did have to spend some time and money to finish it. It cost me a year of visits that could have been cruises. I had 5 "mechanics" out to the boat before finding one who understood the timing issue -- $253 to fix it. I also got the paperwork -- some he found later,, some I got by calling likely suppliers asking for duplicate invoices until I found the right ones. Anyone buyer with less experience would have been out a mint and unable to later document the refit.

The problem for the seller was that this and other bits were small details in his mind. In my mind they were manageable risks. For most, the risks were show stoppers -- and the reality might have been a mess. Some of those "mechanics" were lost in space, and that is an expensive path.

Time let him understand how buyers were viewing the boat and accept my offer, which worked out well for both of us. No hard feelings.
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:03 PM   #9
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I made an offer on a boat about 25 years ago that was well below the asking price. It was rejected without even a counter offer.


I wrote a letter to the seller explaining my situation (single dad, three kids, wanting to spend time on the water with them, etc.,) and included photos of my 12 year old bowrider that looked absolutely like knew. I explained in the letter that I could tell the seller took pride in his boat and would like it to go to someone who would care for it.


I resubmitted my original bid with the letter and the seller accepted it.


If you don't ask, you don't get.
jeez, that worked out well for all involved.
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:15 PM   #10
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I would wonder how long the agreement with the broker lasts. If you selling your house and sign up with a realtor, if the house doesn't sell after a certain amount of time, you are released from the agreement with the realtor and can find a different one, or FSBO it.

I don't know, but in the case of boats I'd expect the same thing. You list with a broker for a certain period. If the boat doesn't sell in that period, you can get a different broker or DIY.

Maybe these cases, the broker did not pass the offers to the owners because it'd reduce his commission. After the brokerage agreement expired the owner either found another broker or sold it himself. The owner takes less money because now he knows that the original price was too high or he's fed up with the whole thing and wants to get rid of the boat to the first person that comes along at whatever the price (that's what I'm hoping for on a couple of boats I have my eye on).
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Old 11-25-2019, 10:40 AM   #11
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I would wonder how long the agreement with the broker lasts. If you selling your house and sign up with a realtor, if the house doesn't sell after a certain amount of time, you are released from the agreement with the realtor and can find a different one, or FSBO it.

I don't know, but in the case of boats I'd expect the same thing. You list with a broker for a certain period. If the boat doesn't sell in that period, you can get a different broker or DIY.

Maybe these cases, the broker did not pass the offers to the owners because it'd reduce his commission. After the brokerage agreement expired the owner either found another broker or sold it himself. The owner takes less money because now he knows that the original price was too high or he's fed up with the whole thing and wants to get rid of the boat to the first person that comes along at whatever the price (that's what I'm hoping for on a couple of boats I have my eye on).
If I need to discontinue a relationship with a broker who has a listing of mine, I draft a letter officially dissolving our relationship. That is mailed Certified Mail, which forces him to sign, acknowledging receipt of the written notice.

This should offer some protection if you sell the boat and the broker tries to come after you for the commission. That DOES happen.
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Old 11-25-2019, 11:59 AM   #12
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Don't follow any hard fast rules. Put in an offer that is sort of reasonable but very low. Maybe as low as half the asking price. It will probably be turned down.

Then wait and watch. If the boat is still around in a couple weeks or months, depending on location and season, Make your offer again, maybe a little lower, maybe a touch higher.

Many sellers have an unreasonable high expectation of the boats value. Forget about them, this negotiation is all about you, the buyer. You are the "hot commodity" a buyer with funding in place. A person selling a used boat is/are a dime a dozen, they are everywhere.

I think, almost as a matter of fact, the first couple offers will be turned down until the seller gets a dose of reality.

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Old 11-25-2019, 12:38 PM   #13
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Who here has bought a boat for less than half of initial asking? {Raises hand, twice}

Who here thinks they bought a boat for half of market value, as the circumstances existed? {Not raising hand}

Who here has accepted a 1st or 2nd offer when selling a boat? {Raises hand}

I think the extreme boat buying and selling strategies described here offer nothing but pain for all and wasted time.

In my view, buyers and sellers should be really honest about the market value of a boat and what it is worth to them. Sellers should price on the high end of market and be prepared to negotiate down to their own threshhold, as needed. Buyers should offer the low end of market and be willing to negotiate to their threshold, as needed.

Unrealistic high asking prices just reduce traffic. Unrealistic low offers just insult sellers.

What to do if a seller is way out of whack and one likes the boat? Offer the low end of reasonable.

I dont think buyers and sellers should be looking to beach other to determine the value of a boat beyond fine tuning. They should do their homework.

If you dont know what a boat is worth -- do research. Have that answer, as best as you can.

I bought both of my boats "cheap" by taking some risks on the cost of extremely deferred maintanence (first boat) and an incomplete refit (present boat). In the first case I lost big. A boat I sold for $70k cost me 6-figures one year after the refit was done. On my my present boat, I won by a bit, I think (but could have, again, lost big) -- but I got the boat I wanted, so I won by a lot, I feel. And, the refit cost a year of cruising in each case -- locally in the first, and occasional weekends and breaks in the second. Another big cost.
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:39 PM   #14
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... Unrealistic low offers just insult sellers. ...
Never understood how a low offer could be an insult.

It's a business negotiation, it's got to start somewhere.
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Old 11-25-2019, 07:23 PM   #15
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Never understood how a low offer could be an insult.

It's a business negotiation, it's got to start somewhere.
Yep. But, time is money. And, the offer is just the start of a time consuming process with potential for additional negotiation and lost time on market if failed.

I wont waste my time on a buyer who doesnt know the value of the boat or is trying to get an unrealistic deal. My view is that they'll likely do it again after the survey and inspection.

In the end, I think it is more likely that negotiating from this type offer is a waste than from other offers, and not worth the time, time on market, diesel, and maybe money for a captain if I'm not available.

I'd rather make a new friend selling a boat in a respectful transaction than get involved in a massive negotiation for something likely of well-known value, within some range.

The person who does this either hasnt yet done their homework or doesn't respect my time. Neither motivates me.

Its the same reason I think sellers should be upfront about the condition of the vessel rather than letting buyers spend tons of money on survey/inspection/haul just to learn what the seller knew -- just so the seller could negotiate from the "better business position" of the buyer having already spent a grand and a bunch of time.
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Old 11-25-2019, 08:04 PM   #16
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I had read a very interesting article on boat pricing and selling, written by a broker.

He stated that a lot of boats don't sell because the owners have an unrealistic price of what their boat is worth and are very set in the selling price, even it is priced way about what comparable boats are actually selling for.

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Old 11-25-2019, 08:29 PM   #17
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Some time next year, we'll put these concepts to the test as we try to both sell and buy at the same time. We will post results. Should be interesting.
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Old 11-29-2019, 04:31 PM   #18
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Never understood how a low offer could be an insult.

It's a business negotiation, it's got to start somewhere.
I agree In my retirement I have become a realestate investor. I have an agent I work with that I love. It took 6 months for me to train her to offer the ridiculous offers I make, often 60% of asking....or less if I have researched the seller and find they are in trouble, divorce, etc. At first she would say, "I cant offer that, they will be insulted." My answer was always the same, "There are more fish in the sea."

I guess boat brokers are not required to present an offer, like realestate brokers are????

But after the second deal we made, she came over to my thinking and even tries to low ball me now! I also wont let a broker stand between me and the seller. I want to meet them so we both can know the others goals. I wont deal with an agent that keeps me away from the seller. Sometimes what the seller wants is not money, but just someone to tell they they are making a good deal. That doesnt cost you a cent. Sometimes you will have something they want and can offer it into the deal. But you cannot if you are held at arms length.

On the other hand, if you find just what you want, and I have, pay the price before it get away and you hate yourself for the indecision.

This strategy requires that you know just exactly what you are looking for, not just "a boat".

And dont "Fall in Love" or you WILL over pay. Done it twice on two boats.

I would not leave my realestate broker now that I have trained her. There are too many out there that cannot be trained!
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Old 11-29-2019, 04:49 PM   #19
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Time and circumstance will change all owners minds. I have no problem in offering low, all they can say is "no". I don't take it personally when I get low ball offers (usually real estate), its a starting point...or not.
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Old 11-29-2019, 05:05 PM   #20
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Time and circumstance will change all owners minds. I have no problem in offering low, all they can say is "no". I don't take it personally when I get low ball offers (usually real estate), its a starting point...or not.

AND.... I have been known to raise an offer.......... in direct negotiation with an owner. BUT I wont deal with a crybaby. No time for that. Too many wimps out there. The wimps may inherit the earth, but until then I will "Win, Win, Win" as someone said.
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