A Boat Buyers’ Guide

Here are a few suggestions to guide you on the path to the ideal boat for you.

Buying a boat (or yacht) is a major purchase. It can be confusing and even stressful. From finding the right boat, negotiating an offer, completing the inspections and the paperwork to finally taking delivery, the road to acquiring your dream boat can become long and winding.

Finding the Right Boat at the Right Price

Identifying and prioritizing your needs is a good place to start. Think about how you plan to use the boat, and with whom. Styling is probably next. And then pricing. Pricing should take into account the purchase price, delivery (e.g., the cost of bringing the boat up from Ft. Lauderdale), taxes (e.g., import duty, handling of a trade), maintenance costs, operating costs, potential charter revenue and future resale value.

Do your research. Take time for window shopping and visiting boat shows. You may want to engage the services of a yacht broker who has experience with the type of boat you are looking for. The broker may also have access to information through proprietary websites and his or her network.

Making an Offer and Negotiating the Purchase

Once you have found a desirable boat, you or your broker will normally draft a “Purchase and Sale Agreement” with your offer price, terms and dates, and submit this offer to the seller. There may be some back and forth negotiations in reaching an agreement on the selling price. Deposits are negotiable, but 10% of the offered amount is normal. These funds should be held in a trust account and are generally refundable up until the time the boat has been accepted.


When your offer has been accepted, you will want to arrange a sea trial, mechanical inspection, haul-out and survey. We always recommend using a qualified mechanic and surveyor (SAMS or NAMS should be in their letterhead). The surveyor works for the buyer and you can chose the surveyor you. Should any faults be found with the vessel, these may be fixed as part of the sale, adjusted for in the price, the vessel may not be accepted at all or accepted as is.

Paperwork and Closing

After the “Acceptance of Vessel” document has been signed, the time and place for the closing has to be determined and there is some paperwork to be done. We always recommend the services of a documentation or title company to hold the funds in a trust account, handle the disbursements, prepare the closing documents (lien search, bill of sale, closing statements), assist with the importation and registration or licensing.

The Launch Party

It’s time to invite your friends on board!

Who to Call?

We recommend that you contact any member of the British Columbia Yacht Broker’s Association (BCYBA). Members adhere to a code of ethics and handle all transactions according to prescribed procedures so that every client is treated with high standards of professionalism.