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Old 12-05-2017, 10:49 AM   #1
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Thumbs down Incompetent Brokers

I'm relatively new here and I only recently bought my boat through a broker [vendor's] in Greece. Getting everything sorted has been a bit of a pain because I'm in Turkey, the boat and the broker are in Greece and the vendor is currently in the Canary Islands plus I'm registering the boat in Jersey, Channel Islands. I posted on another thread about the difficulty in getting the broker's cooperation when I initially wanted to view the boat and there have been other small issues since I agreed to buy but I've just tried to get through them without having a row with the broker. I eventually got a scanned copy of the Bill of Sale a few days ago and sent it off to the Registration Office. They asked for history of ownership for the previous 5 years which I knew should not be a problem as the previous owner had the boat for 10 years so I asked the broker to send me the BOS from when the vendor bought the boat. He did but it showed the guy I was buying from bought the boat jointly with his wife 10 years ago and so is not entitled to sell the boat now as a sole owner. So this "highly experienced, professional brokerage" with offices in 2 European countries hadn't even bothered their tail-ends to check the legal ownership of the boat before they offered it for sale or when they prepared a contract or the Bill of Sale. Oh and guess what - they are now blaming the owner because he never told them his wife was a co-owner and are taking no responsibility themselves. In fairness to the vendor he doesn't speak any English whereas all the paperwork is in English and the broker is English speaking. I was going to say I feel sorry for the vendor paying money to these incompetents but then I remembered it's me who is paying it in the end . Rant over
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:38 AM   #2
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I am not sure that the broker is all to blame.

For those of us who live in the US, be thankful for USCG documentation of ownership and liens (good) or state titles (ok). The rest of the world doesn't always have it so good.

And I guess I have always enjoyed the benefits of this sheltered situation. Never has a real estate agent or boat broker ever asked me to prove ownership before listing and starting the sales process. Only when a contract is signed does anyone start checking the registered deed, document or state title. So far it has worked for me.

Buying a fairly expensive boat with only a state title does take a bit of extra work. We bought our Ct titled boat some years ago and had the document agency run a lien check in all four adjacent states and came up with nothing which gave me enough comfort to proceed to closing. Immediately after closing I federally documented the boat to have a very secure title.

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Old 12-05-2017, 12:00 PM   #3
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I'm not totally familiar with the US system but I think it is not dissimilar to most European countries where you have an option of Full Registration [equivalent to USCG] and Small Ships Register [equivalent to State Registration]. A SSR registration proves nothing essentially whereas Full Registration is proof of ownership and mortgages, liens etc are recorded. The boat I'm buying did not have full registration and the practice in that case is to rely on the Bill of Sale from when the vendor acquired the boat. I could possibly understand the broker not checking when he listed the boat for sale but at a minimum he should have sought proof when he prepared a contract which includes" the vendor warrants to the purchaser that he is the sole legal and beneficial owner of the vessel and absolutely entitled to transfer etc". It is also a requirement of the contract that the vendor through the broker will give me a copy of the previous bill of sale on completion. By the way I'm applying for Full Registration myself for the boat even though that involves extra fees and surveys.
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Old 12-05-2017, 01:52 PM   #4
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Our system is similar to what you discribe but in the US a state title is a legal title but liens are not recorded unlike federal documentation where they are recorded. Federal documentation backed by an abstract is considered the gold standard of a secure title.

Many years ago I was a broker myself for aboutva year. We would always get a federal abstract which listed the legal owner as well as any liens filed against it. But we would only do that as part of the closing process. Other brokers leave you to your own devices and do nothing.

In that case either the lender will investigate the title or the buyer should be advised to do it himself. I suppose if it were an all cash purchase that the buyer could skip getting a federal abstract or checking for liens if it is a state title. But he might be sadly surprised by the outcome like you were, so it rarely happens.

Closing the sale of a boat with just a bill of sale with no state title or federal document just isn't done here in the US.

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Old 12-05-2017, 02:12 PM   #5
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It really sounds like a lousy broker. It's fairly easy to check title and see how the boat is titled long before listing it. Heck, I'm sure a competent broker would want to know that so he isn't selling someones boat that a crook is pretending to be the seller.

Real estate, airplanes and cars are the same. It's prudent to check title in all cases. Any good broker would.
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