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Attention, Savvy Shoppers

In this new column, we'll dig deep into all the elements of making a smart trawler purchase.

So, you want to become a trawler owner. Great!

Now, you’ll need a good broker and background knowledge about how the intricacies of the sales process works. In this new column, I hope to be your guide to those particulars and a whole lot more.

I’ve sold hundreds of new and used cruising sailboats and trawlers, and I’m a certified professional yacht broker—a background that gives me unique insight into the trawler lifestyle. It blends freedom, self-sufficiency and accomplishment into a rewarding experience that owners can share with friends and family. Trawlers provide unlimited opportunities to visit new places and meet interesting people.

Tapping into that lifestyle requires determining which trawler is best for the type of cruising you intend to do, and then narrowing your search to the specific boat that is ideal for your needs. This process involves a team of players, including an experienced yacht broker, to guide you and serve as your advocate. These players also will help with banking, insurance, scheduling, paperwork, taxes, legalities, negotiations and—yes—more paperwork. Service people, too, will be key to your team.

In the coming months, I plan to explain my thinking about the sales process to help you understand all of the dynamics involved. Among other things, this column will discuss:

The offer. This is when your selling broker prepares a purchase and sale agreement, and submits it to the listing broker, who presents to the seller. Counteroffers may follow before the buyer and seller agree on dates and pricing. The clock on the deal starts when the seller signs to accept your offer.

The deposit. Upon receiving a signed contract, your good faith deposit (10 percent of the offer price) is placed in your selling broker’s trust account.

The surveyor (and diesel mechanic). These folks are an essential hire for every buyer. Make sure that your underwriter/lender will accept a report from a NAMS or SAMS accredited surveyor. That’s the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors.

The haul-out yard. The seller selects a yard, and an appointment is made for survey haul out.

Survey day(s). You meet at the boat to inspect equipment and evaluate characteristics. The surveyor sets the agenda. An underway demonstration and test is done for all gear (including the tender). The buyer pays all costs for this survey.

The diesel mechanic. This person, whom the buyer hires, inspects the boat’s machinery, including all engines, transmissions and generators. Oil samples are pulled for lab testing.

The survey report. The hull surveyor provides a written summary of survey findings, including any deficiencies. Fair market value for the yacht is estimated.

The approval. The buyer’s insurance agent approves the hull survey. If the buyer is using marine financing, the lender also must approve the hull survey.

Addendum(s). If there is a negotiated price change due to survey findings or a date extension on the deal, the selling broker prepares an addendum to update the original contract.

The acceptance. You are satisfied with your due diligence and are prepared to sign off all contingencies and accept the vessel. This step commits your deposit, and you move toward closing.

The closing paperwork. The title search, registration and documentation are finalized. Bills of sale are notarized, and closing statements are signed. Papers are released when the deal is finalized.

Final banking. All funds including your deposit are consolidated for distribution on the closing date.

Ownership. The vessel title is in your name, your insurance is in place, and you have the keys. There are big smiles all around. Cruising plans can be made.

Each of the above steps can consume precious days, and can include events that you may not be able to influence or control. What you can control, though, you will be able to handle with a better understanding of all these steps and more. I look forward to talking through all the possible surprise twists—and strategies for managing them—in this column with you every month. 


"Trawler Transactions: Buying & Selling Tips from the Pros"

In this episode, Jeff Merrill (JMYS) and Kevin Althoff (Burr Yacht Sales) reveal how you can be more savvy when it comes to trawler transactions. LISTEN NOW!