Welcome aboard TF. Lots of good info and knowledge here. You might find Boat Search 101 helpful as a starting point. It contains tips on selecting as well as acquiring a boat. https://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/...ad.php?t=14905
It could differ some depending on the seller situation and the following may help others with responses...
Is the sale through a broker or private sale?
Similar to real estate there are both seller and buyer brokers available and if the boat is being offered through a broker generally the commission will be negotiated and split by the seller and buyer brokers. You might consider interviewing and hiring a buyers broker that can guide you through the process and have your best interest in mind. If the owner is offering the boat privately you may need to pay a buyer brokers commission / fees.
Have you already approached the selling broker? Inspected the boat yourself? Made an offer?
How far away the boat is may have an affect on the specific order of steps. If having a buyers broker is of interest the sooner you can make that decision and select one the easier the process will proceed.
As a general rule (assuming the boat is close by) you view / inspect the boat then make a written purchase offer and a refundable deposit, through the broker(s), that contains any / all contingencies ( satisfactory survey, mechanical / engine inspection survey, sea trial, ability to secure loan, insurance...). A deposit needs to be explicitly identified as refundable (based on the contingencies) and should be held in escrow.
The surveys will generally include both an in water as well as out of water portions. All surveys / inspections and haul out are generally the responsibility of the buyer. Usually the recommended approach is for hull & engine surveys be done simultaneously and both present for sea trial. If possible, having owner participate / be present can have advantages to observe items pointed out by the surveyors. As a buyer you can learn from being part of the process.
In some cases the buyer or another experienced person designated by the seller will do a preliminary inspection ahead of a professional survey. If so, this step needs to be included in the purchase offer contingencies.
While I and others may outline typical steps and sequence there may be exceptions and differences depending on situation specifics.
Hope this helps and I'm sure others will add to this.