What You Should Expect from a Boat Broker


If you decide to work with a broker, remember that you have options. A brokers fee is always 10 percent upon the sale of the boat, but some offer more services than others for the same price. Brokers asking you for funds up front should be immediately discounted.

Island Packet 40

Photos by Melanie Neale

Responsiveness. How quickly a broker responds to your inquiry is indicative of how they will respond to potential buyers. Give them 24 hours, and move on if they don't respond or if they make excuses as to why they didn't respond promptly. Most, if they miss the initial phone call, will call or email you back within minutes.

Marketing. All brokers have access to YachtWorld. Ask where else the broker will advertise your boat and expect to receive a written list of websites and print publications and social media. Good brokers also use SailboatListings, BoatTrader, Boats.com, and other sites. Ask whether they offer Enhanced Listings on YachtWorld.

Look at other listings. Ask a potential broker for links to some of their listings. If you don't like the write-up, think the photos are shoddy, or if there isnt enough information, move on.

Comps. The average buyer and seller, despite what they might find perusing ads and looking at resources like BUC, do not have access to actual comps. Your broker does. In addition to knowing what is currently on the market, your broker should offer you information on how many similar boats have sold in your region recently, what they were listed at, how long they took to sell, and exactly what they sold for.

Track record. Ask your broker what he/she has sold recently. A good broker will be ready with the answer.

Paperwork, escrow, and protection during the closing process. A broker will have an escrow account and will ask that all deposits be submitted to the account. The broker will have all the forms you need, and some even use programs like YachtCloser which simplify the process through e-signing. The broker works with a title/documentation company, and the buyer pays for all expenses associated with closing.

Import duty. If you have purchased a foreign-built boat and plan to sell it in the US to a US citizen (regardless of your citizenship), import duty must be paid. Your yacht broker will help you find a customs broker. Be wary of brokers who suggest ways to get around paying the import duty, such as closing offshore. If you are selling the boat yourself and fail to comply, both you and the buyer are liable for huge fines down the road.

Social Media. If this is something that the broker claims to do, ask where they post, what kinds of accounts they have, and how many followers they have. Posting on a personal Facebook page to 200 of the brokers closest friends is not enough. The post needs to be publicly shared on various forums.

Personality. You and your broker are forming a relationship, and chances are that you are already somewhat emotional about the sale of your boat. Your broker needs to understand this and be open and honest with you. Why work with someone you don't like?

Melanie Neale is a lifelong cruising sailor, author, and mother. She works for Edwards Yacht Sales, www.edwardsyachtsales.com.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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