Start now. We are nearing the end of the purchase process of our first trawler. I was and still am a bit of a lurker. Started researching on this forum over 2 years ago, but started really looking to buy about 7 months ago. After finding a suitable boat that is being offered through a broker, the purchasing process can take on a life of it's own. For us it went like this:
- The offer
- After a week; the acceptance
- 10% down payment
- Scheduling a time for the owner, broker, surveyor, boat yard and I to get together for a sea trial and haul out
- A counter offer by me
- The eventual acceptance of the counter offer
We deliver a cashiers check to the broker this Wednesday and then there is a five day period for the previous owner to remove all personal properly.
We started the purchase process over a month ago and it is almost over. I suspect this purchase may have taken longer than most, but that is how it was for us.
As others mentioned, it is a buyers market right now for some boats. We looked for a boat that needed a face lift and new electronics. There are a lot of trawlers out there that fall into that category. If you have the right skill sets and time to do it yourself, you can find good deals. My wife and I are both retired and plan to do most of the work ourselves.