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What is the typical process when buying from a private seller?


OTL

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Hi All.

 

I'll be on my way to view a boat this weekend which I'm quite sure I'll be putting an offer in on it everything seems ok. Admittedly I am a novice so I've been given a few bits of guidence in regards to what to look out for when viewing a boat.

 

This will be the first time I have viewed a boat that is being sold by a private seller. I have visited brokerages in the past so I am familiar with the Offer-Deposit-Survey-Haggle-Bill of sale format. But how might this differ with a private seller?

 

What steps should I take if I love the boat and want to get things rolling immediately? I imagine I will have less guidence from a provate seller than I would a broker.

 

I am aware that brokerages seldom offer any more security than a private seller would, but as this is my first purchase I'd appreciate the step-by-step help that one might expect from a broker.

 

Thanks

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I sold mine last month. Buyer drove 150 miles and looked at boat. He rang me next day with offer I accepted and asked for 5k deposit to hold boat. He paid deposit and returned on agreed date and paid other money into my bank account. I took him out for a days tuition and he has taken boat away, job done simple as that.

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7 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

I sold mine last month. Buyer drove 150 miles and looked at boat. He rang me next day with offer I accepted and asked for 5k deposit to hold boat. He paid deposit and returned on agreed date and paid other money into my bank account. I took him out for a days tuition and he has taken boat away, job done simple as that.

Was there any kind of paperwork to protect the buyer's despoit?  Is this standard practice?

 

I don't know how i'd feel about wiring 5k to someone I met off facebook a few weeks prior.

 

Also was there no survey organised by the buyer?

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If you intend having a survey, then the porocess is pretty much the same as buying via a broker.

View, offer, pay deposit, arrange surveyor, get report, haggle on price to allow for the faults the surveyor has found, agree a price, pay for the boat.

 

If you are not having a surveyor, then you take the same approach as both myself (and Mrsmelly - above), take a carrier bag full of cash with you.

View the boat, agree a price, pay cash take the boat away.

The fastest I have done a boat purchase was 35 minutes, from arrival to driving the boat away (and 10 minutes of that was the owner removing his last few personal items)

 

 

A 'new thing' to look for is that if it was built post 1998 it must have the RCD documentation, buyers are now reporting that sellers are not legally allowed to sell a boat with the RCD documentation.

The Revised RCR states that the RCR is now 'for life' where previously people worked to the '5 year rule'.

 

Many on here will know the story, but, I was looking at a boat that did not have the correct paperwork and could not be sold, so I offered £80,000 less than the selling price to 'take as is'. It was accepted. I subsequently managed to obtain the correct paperwork and VAT certificate from the manufacturers and Customs office.

 

There is still a lot of misunderstanding of the RCR on the inland waterways and if what the brokers are saying is correct then a lot of boats will become difficiult to sell as few people have documentation.

 

Just be aware and make your decision aftrer careful consideration.

 

** RCR = Recreational Craft Regulations.

 

 

33 minutes ago, OTL said:

Was there any kind of paperwork to protect the buyer's despoit?  Is this standard practice?

 

I don't know how i'd feel about wiring 5k to someone I met off facebook a few weeks prior.

 

Also was there no survey organised by the buyer?

 

What deposit ?

You go with 100% of the cash and buy the boat if you are happy - no risk to either party (unless the boat is stolen)

 

It is not unusual (for some of us) to go and view, pay cash and drive the boat away with no survey.

It is not something to be recomended unless you have some boat knowledge.

 

In the last 30 years I have bought 18 boats and sold 16, only had one survey (the 1st boat) and when I realised what a rip off it was (- surveyor failed to identify £20,000 of faults and when I tried to take him to court solicitor told me his small print made the survey pretty much worthless) I never had another survey.

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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2 minutes ago, OTL said:

Was there any kind of paperwork to protect the buyer's despoit?  Is this standard practice?

 

I don't know how i'd feel about wiring 5k to someone I met off facebook a few weeks prior.

 

Also was there no survey organised by the buyer?

Buyer didnt have a survey. I have owned 8 boats and never had a survey. Further to this I have owned and sold 8 boats and only one of the 8 had a survey by the buyer. It was a good old fashioned transaction, he paid in to my account with no contract just two blokes a seller and a buyer. I retained boat and he came and paid the rest and took boat away. This is the beauty of boats, no paperwork crap or solicitors. I am at present  buying a house and its crap on top of more crap.

2 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

If you intend having a survey, then the porocess is pretty much the same as buying via a broker.

View, offer, pay deposit, arrange surveyor, get report, haggle on price to allow for the faults the surveyor has found, agree a price, pay for the boat.

 

If you are not having a surveyor, then you take the same approach as both myself (and Mrsmelly - above), take a carrier bag full of cash with you.

View the boat, agree a price, pay cash take the boat away.

The fastest I have done a boat purchase was 35 minutes, from arrival to driving the boat away (and 10 minutes of that was the owner removing his last few personal items)

 

 

A 'new thing' to look for is that if it was built post 1998 it must have the RCD documentation, buyers are now reporting that sellers are not legally allowed to see a boat with the RCD documentation.

The Revised RCR states that the RCR is now 'for life' where previously people worked to the '5 year rule'.

 

Many on here will know the story, but, I was looking at a boat that did not have the correct paperwork and could not be sold, so I offered £80,000 less than the selling price to 'take as is'. It was accepted. I subsequently managed to obtain the correct paperwork and VAT certificate from the manufacturers and Customs office.

 

There is still a lot of misunderstanding of the RCR on the inland waterways and if what the brokers are saying is correct then a lot of boats will become difficiult to sell as few people have documentation.

 

Just be aware and make your decision aftrer careful consideration.

 

** RCR = Recreational Craft Regulations.

 

It is not unusual (for some of us) to go and view, pay cash and drive the boat away with no survey.

It is not something to be recomended unless you have some boat knowledge.

Yep, completely agree. My quickest purchase was my last boat. I saw it at 1100 and paid for it at 1120, job done, a bloody good boat. The wife didnt even see it until I drove it to our mooring a week later lol.

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8 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Buyer didnt have a survey.

On the other hand, if you say you're organising a survey and the buyer turns pale and backs into a corner mumbling, walk away. This happened to us a few years ago, we'd agreed a price for a boat, even taken it for a test drive, but as soon as I mentioned a survey the couple selling it became evasive. We didn't buy it.

   I sometimes wonder what on earth was wrong with it.

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I think it needs to be said that the previous two posters are very experienced boaters.Probably been boating since Pontius got his pilot's licence,and they will know pretty much what they are looking at.

If you are not familiar with boats,then the safest way is as described.View,offer,survey and purchase.

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Just now, Athy said:

On the other hand, if you say you're organising a survey and the buyer turns pale and backs into a corner mumbling, walk away. This happened to us a few years ago, we'd agreed a price for a boat, even taken it for a test drive, but as soon as I mentioned a survey the couple selling it became evasive. We didn't buy it.

   I sometimes wonder what on earth was wrong with it.

One of lifes risks, I agree. I wouldnt have minded my buyer having a survey as boat is solid as a rock. However I wouldnt have kept boat for him if someone else had turned up to pay for it as a bird in the hand etc etc

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17 minutes ago, Mad Harold said:

I think it needs to be said that the previous two posters are very experienced boaters.Probably been boating since Pontius got his pilot's licence,and they will know pretty much what they are looking at.

If you are not familiar with boats,then the safest way is as described.View,offer,survey and purchase.

 

 

You may have missed where I stated :

 

32 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

It is not unusual (for some of us) to go and view, pay cash and drive the boat away with no survey.

It is not something to be recomended unless you have some boat knowledge.

 

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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19 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

One of lifes risks, I agree. I wouldnt have minded my buyer having a survey as boat is solid as a rock. However I wouldnt have kept boat for him if someone else had turned up to pay for it as a bird in the hand etc etc

Is it not the case that if you don't have a survey conducted in your name you are then unable to get insurance on the boat?

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6 minutes ago, OTL said:

Is it not the case that if you don't have a survey conducted in your name you are then unable to get insurance on the boat?

 

No. Thats is absolute b****oks

 

If you buy or own a boat older than 20 / 25 / 30 / 40 years old (depending on insurer) then the boat will need to have had a survey within the last 4 or 5 years (depending on insurer) The boat doesn't suddenly become uninsurable because the owner changes.

 

You don't even need to have a survey ever, even with an old boat, you can if you wish, insure it 3rd party and it will never even need a survey.

 

The 16 boats I have sold have never had a survey done by me , or by the buyers. It is just an unecessary expense - unless you don;'t feel confident to see if the boat is in good condition or not :

 

 

 

Don’t expect too much from your surveyor or you will be disappointed.

 

Read a Narrowboat Survey yesterday where the surveyor, had suggested that :-

 

1) There should be a small ladder available to "aid emergency egress" out of the side hatch (a 50 foot boat with fully functioning front and rear doors).

 

2) There were insufficient lifejackets on board for the number of people who could use the boat.

 

3) There was no automatic fire extinguishers in the engine compartment.

 

4) There was no anchor and/or chain aboard.

 

With the usual disclaimer that "I have not commented upon anything I cannot see, opened cupboards, or lifted carpet. I have given the engine a visual appraisal but not heard it running, The survey is for the named person and is valid for todays date only."

 

 

 

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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59 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

I sold mine last month. Buyer drove 150 miles and looked at boat. He rang me next day with offer I accepted and asked for 5k deposit to hold boat. He paid deposit and returned on agreed date and paid other money into my bank account. I took him out for a days tuition and he has taken boat away, job done simple as that.

I'm still curious about the private seller asking for a deposit, and I'm not sure I would feel comfortable handing over a large sum with no guarantee.

 

I read on an older post that it's to secure the buyer's interest, but it would feel incredibly precarious when there is seemingly no real reason for a deposit (if the buyer has money ready). If the buyer books a survey, is that not secure enough to prove intent to purchase?

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15 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

No. Thats is absolute b****oks

 

If you buy or own a boat older than 20 / 25 / 30 / 40 years old (depending on insurer) then the boat will need to have had a survey within the last 4 or 5 years (depending on insurer)

That is surprising, but good to know. I was also under the impression that the survey would need to be in the owner's name for it to be valid insurance wise too, but what you've said contradicts that. Perhaps boat insurance is simpler than I anticipated.

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4 minutes ago, OTL said:

I'm still curious about the private seller asking for a deposit, and I'm not sure I would feel comfortable handing over a large sum with no guarantee.

 

I read on an older post that it's to secure the buyer's interest, but it would feel incredibly precarious when there is seemingly no real reason for a deposit (if the buyer has money ready). If the buyer books a survey, is that not secure enough to prove intent to purchase?

 

 

Do you ever buy anything on ebay ?

 

You have to pay and hope that the seller sends it - someone has to trust someone.

If you feel that you cannot trust the seller, then go down the conventional route, and convice yourself that you have more security using an itemediary.

With the agreement of the seller, you could always pay a solicitor to hold the money.

2 minutes ago, OTL said:

That is surprising, but good to know. I was also under the impression that the survey would need to be in the owner's name for it to be valid insurance wise too, but what you've said contradicts that. Perhaps boat insurance is simpler than I anticipated.

 

 

You don't have to have a car surveyed before you can insure it.

 

The boat should be in your name, thats all.

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When I looked at a privately owned boat I asked "would you take this off the market if I arranged and paid for a surveyor?". The vendor said yes and that he'd also happily move the boat to a slipway for the survey and could arrange for blacking at the same time if I covered it with my purchase price.

 

I didn't buy the boat because I bought another boat I looked at that day, but that's the sort of response I'd have needed to be comfortable buying. No deposits risked and the vendor clearly didn't think he had much to worry about from the survey

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2 hours ago, OTL said:

Is it not the case that if you don't have a survey conducted in your name you are then unable to get insurance on the boat?

Nope. I havnt had a survey on the house I am buying either and ive insured that no problem.

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I think we need to clarify a subject, that of the word Deposit.

Normaly when you place a deposit on an item including a boat as with mine it is a binding contract in that the deposit you pay states you intend buying the product and are then liable to pay the balance, much the same as a deposit on exchange of contracts on a house you are then liable to buy the house or are in breach of contract.

The difference in some circumstances being say buying either through a broker or a private seller in that a deposit is given subject to a suitable survey to both parties so the deposit isnt initialy a notice of intent to purchase but purchase after survey, this can be subject again to terms and conditions in the deposit contract. So when my buyer gave me his 5k deposit if he changed his mind I could have kept it and indeed persued re the rest of the purchase price as he would have been in breach of contract. A deposit subject to survey just to hold the boat is a different matter.

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2 hours ago, enigmatic said:

When I looked at a privately owned boat I asked "would you take this off the market if I arranged and paid for a surveyor?". The vendor said yes and that he'd also happily move the boat to a slipway for the survey and could arrange for blacking at the same time if I covered it with my purchase price.

 

I didn't buy the boat because I bought another boat I looked at that day, but that's the sort of response I'd have needed to be comfortable buying. No deposits risked and the vendor clearly didn't think he had much to worry about from the survey

Surly this shows why a seller would want a deposit. You asked the vendor to take it off the market to which they agreed because you wanted to buy it subject to survey and then you changed your mind and bought a different boat.

Edited by ditchcrawler
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When buying from either a private seller or broker, I am totally against this process of handing over a large deposit before having a survey unless you are totally committed to buy regardless of the survey outcome. As mrsmelly says above, if the deposit is to hold the boat while getting the balance organised, that is totally different. I might grudgingly hand over a nominal £500 before the survey, just to stop the boat being sold, but no way would I be handing over the thousands that other buyers seem to feel happy doing.

I've seen some brokers stating that basically if you have handed over the deposit you have committed to buying the boat. The survey might show that, for example, £5000 is needed for overplating. The brokers standpoint is that as long as the seller has the work done you cannot back out of the purchase. My point is that, until I had seen the survey, I had no idea the boat I was thinking of buying needed overplating. I do not want a boat that has either had overplating done, or needs it doing. Also, with work of that importance being done for the seller, the legal ramifications of subsequently claiming for shoddy work done for a previous owner, by me as the present owner, don't bear thinking about.

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If your buying off a genuine private seller they are just as nervous as you. My recently sold boat went to the first to view, I could tell they'd fell in love with it as I had when I first viewed it. I received no payment until the week before I delivered it, I trusted they wanted it and I liked them (see another post about 20+ enquiries and me choosing who I liked best). If I'd of asked they no doubt would have payed a holding deposit...and if I didn't trust them I would have. The rest was paid on handover after I'd had a very enjoyable weeks cruise (which they paid an extra £500 for my time and expenses).

 

Someone has to give a little, it's up to you to read the situation!

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3 minutes ago, Mike Tee said:

When buying from either a private seller or broker, I am totally against this process of handing over a large deposit before having a survey unless you are totally committed to buy regardless of the survey outcome. As mrsmelly says above, if the deposit is to hold the boat while getting the balance organised, that is totally different. I might grudgingly hand over a nominal £500 before the survey, just to stop the boat being sold, but no way would I be handing over the thousands that other buyers seem to feel happy doing.

I've seen some brokers stating that basically if you have handed over the deposit you have committed to buying the boat. The survey might show that, for example, £5000 is needed for overplating. The brokers standpoint is that as long as the seller has the work done you cannot back out of the purchase. My point is that, until I had seen the survey, I had no idea the boat I was thinking of buying needed overplating. I do not want a boat that has either had overplating done, or needs it doing. Also, with work of that importance being done for the seller, the legal ramifications of subsequently claiming for shoddy work done for a previous owner, by me as the present owner, don't bear thinking about.

Agreed. Thing is we all are different to what we will personaly accept as a risk. I never survey, I am buying a house at present without any form of survey. It looks square to me and its been there since 1890 and I like it so I am buying it. If I had a survey the surveyer would doubtless find faults as its 131 years old lol.  The only reason I had surveys on houses years ago was that I had to ask poxy banks for a loan and we all know what a con that system is but we are at their mercy until we can buy with cash. I have been a motorcyclist in the past wheras many would not get on one. Ive done jobs with a degree of danger that a hell of a lot of people would steer clear of. We are all different and one size doesnt fit all and there is no right or wrong way.

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18 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

Surly this shows why a seller would want a deposit. You asked the vendor to take it off the market to which they agreed because you wanted to buy it subject to survey and then you changed your mind and bought a different boat.

Any seller that was convinced his boat was sound and worth the agreed price should be happy to accept it going through subject to survey without a deposit. If the survey subsequently found a problem, the potential buyer would be well in his rights to walk away - bit difficult if the seller has already banked £6000 of the buyers hard earned.

The subject of a buyer just frivolously making  multiple offers on a variety of boats is another thing. Its not protected when buying a house which kinda grates with me, but that's the way of things - I consider boat buying to be similar. If a potential buyer has paid for a survey and paid for the boat to be taken out of the water, that shows a reasonable level of commitment in the region of £1000 - £1500.

 

Edited by Mike Tee
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Hi there. I haven't read through all of the thread but you've had great advice above. We bought our first NB privately last year so I'll share my experience. Our situation was slightly unusual because the previous owner had sadly died not long after getting the boat and his son was selling it. Fortuitously the boat had been purchased in the son's name and he had proof of ownership, so this made things less complicated as he had clear right to sell (ie no complicated probate issues). The manager of the small marina where it was moored acted as point of contact between us and the seller but he was not acting as a broker per se. 

The boat was advertised on the Duck and we were first to see it. We put in an offer subject to survey, which was accepted, and arranged a survey at nearby yard where the boat could be lifted out. We also arranged to have the boat blacked if the survey was ok, but if not it was going straight back into the water. We neither offered nor were not asked to pay a deposit. The seller organised for a local sea dog to take us and the boat to the lift-out yard. This was a 6-7 hour journey and it gave us a great opportunity to steer the boat and thoroughly test all systems. It was during this cruise we identified a number of issues such as fried batteries, badly neglected water tank, broken fridge and loo etc. We stayed in a local B&B so we could be on hand for the survey. Structurally the boat was in good order so we negotiated the price with the seller to take into account the issues we had uncovered. We had access to a file of paperwork about the boat so I had chance to check the RCD, previous bills of sale and surveys, engine servicing etc. On agreeing terms we paid in full by bank transfer and the boat was ours. (As a period property restorer I'm used to paying large sums by transfer so I always send a test payment of a small random amount first then ask the recipient to confirm the amount in person or over the phone. The seller was known to the marina manager so I knew I was speaking to the real person and not a scammer). I used the most recent ABNB bill of sale as a template for our transaction. We stayed on in the marina (White Mills - what a great place it was) for a few weeks to carry out essential work on the boat; water tank, loo etc, and then brought her home. More than doubled the engine hours last year and have loved every minute. Good luck and welcome. 

PS I would be very wary of paying a deposit through a broker unless I was absolutely sure I could get my money back if the boat didn't fair well at survey. A fee people have had problems with this and at least one broker has refused to accept the survey findings and repay a deposit, which I find disgusting behaviour.

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1 hour ago, Cheshire cat said:

I can think of one well known broker who expects you to put a deposit down and won't return it unless a surveyor says there is something major wrong with the boat.

 

 

And I know at least one who has disagreed with a survey and refused to return a deposit, because of course a secondhand boat salesman knows more than a qualified marine surveyor ?!

3 hours ago, OTL said:

Is it not the case that if you don't have a survey conducted in your name you are then unable to get insurance on the boat?

You might find some insurers aren't too keen on giving cover to a first-time boat owner. We found this but were ok in the end because my hubby is a fairly experienced yachtsman (and submarine designer so he knows a bit about watery stuff - although a complete newbie narrowboater). An inland waterways helmsman course would help but we couldn't do one because of Covid.

Edited by MrsM
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