TheAdvocate
BoatUS Consumer Protection Bureau

 

What A Yacht Broker Can Do For You

By Charles Fort
Published: October/November 2013

Especially when buying or selling a large boat, the right broker can reduce stress and make the transaction go smoothly and painlessly.

Photo of two men shaking hands
Photo: Michael Vatalaro
A broker can take the complications out of buying or selling your next boat.

When BoatUS member David Issacson bought his first boat 26 years ago, he searched the newspaper classifieds in the morning (remember those?), located a couple of candidates before noon, and by 3 p.m. wrote the seller a check for $1,000 for a 17-foot boat he took fishing that day. "It was so simple then," he says. "Pretty much like buying a cheap used car. I don't even think I got a bill of sale. It was all done with a handshake." Now that he's retiring, he's looking for his fourth boat, which he says will be much bigger, probably in the 42- to 45-foot range. "I have no idea what it's going to take now. I've never had a boat that was documented or had a loan on it. I don't even think they have classifieds in the paper anymore, and I'm not sure what the process is these days."

Issacson is exactly the type of person who could benefit from using a boat broker. Boat brokers are similar to real-estate agents, but with important differences: They're far less regulated, and their commission is 10 percent rather than six percent. Unlike realtors who must take classes, sit for an exam, and be licensed in every state, only boat brokers in Florida and California have to be licensed and only California requires an exam. In most other states, anyone can call themselves a boat broker. And while all brokers have certain legal responsibilities to their clients, selecting one should be done carefully. Ask around at your marina or boatyard and get referrals from others who have used a broker before. Talk to two or three and get a feel for them, just as you would with a real estate agent. One way to increase your chances of finding the right broker is to look for a Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB). These brokers are members of the Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA), have taken a comprehensive exam, have pledged to abide by a code of ethics, and will work with the BoatUS Dispute Mediation Program (see links in sidebar).

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