Yacht cruising local waters.
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Tips for finding a yacht broker

Caption: A Jefferson Yacht Pilothouse cruises the local waters.

Editor’s note: Information for the following article was supplied by Northwest Yacht Brokers’ Association (NYBA).

Boaters who have previously enjoyed a good experience with a particular yacht broker will normally use that person for future transactions. For new boaters, boaters new to the area, or in cases where a favorite broker has retired or left the business it will be necessary to find a yacht broker. Absent any personal experience with yacht brokers, it may be useful to ask some boat owning friends whom they would recommend.

Boat shows offer a fabulous opportunity to hold brief conversations with a large number of brokers. First impressions can be meaningful. If two or three brokers stand out from the rest those individuals would be great candidates for additional consideration. The yacht market is comprised of many sub-markets and specialties. Ideally, a buyer or seller will identify a potential broker not merely affable and communicative but with specific successful experience in sailboats, trawlers, express cruisers, or whatever class of boat is of interest.

Most importantly, a professional broker will listen to what a customer needs, wants and dreams about in a boat. Many buyers, understandably, don’t know exactly what kind of boat they want when they first begin shopping. The broker will listen to a customer’s plans for the intended use of a boat, help establish a realistic price range and, from there, begin searching for the right boat.

Most brokers are active in a network of listings that covers Puget Sound and beyond, whether it’s an MLS system, out-of-state contacts or cooperative working arrangements with other area brokers. Buyers want maximum access to available boats, which a good broker should be able to provide through his or her network of listings.

An important aspect of finding the right boat for a customer is a broker’s network of contacts with whom he or she has a cooperative working arrangements. It broadens the range of available boats, and allows the customer to choose one broker with whom he or she feels comfortable without eliminating the right boat that may be listed and located elsewhere.

Using the listing services, his peer contacts and his knowledge of the current market, a broker will conduct a search for suitable boats to show, whether they are on the broker’s dock or elsewhere. The broker will then make viewing arrangements so the customer may see the most appropriate boats, thereby saving the customer time and effort.

A professional broker, with his or her intimate knowledge of the current market conditions, the length of time the boat has been on the market and a familiarity of similar boats, can help a client craft a realistic offer that increases the chances of buying the boat for a fair and reasonable price.

Too often, a transaction is nixed over a $500 item rather than a $5,000 difference in price. First, a broker can help the buyer and seller reach an agreement on selling price, and then he or she can keep the small obstacles from becoming insurmountable problems. In cases where the buyer and seller disagree, the broker can use his position as a middleman to instill trust and reason to both parties to allow negotiations to continue.

Before finalizing the purchase, buyers will engage in a sea trail. More than a joy ride or a mere formality, this is when the buyer discovers how a boat performs. A broker should be able to assist the buyer in making a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in the performance of a particular boat.

Every broker should either be or work for a licensed brokerage or dealership. All members of the Northwest Yacht Brokers Association have also pledged to uphold a Code of Ethics. The broker’s position as a middleman between buyer and seller places substantial ethical responsibility on him to ensure that both parties are treated honestly and fairly. If at any time the buyer believes he or she has been treated otherwise, that person may file a formal grievance with the NYBA’s Ethics Committee and its non-binding mediation process.