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New Year, New Boat?

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By Jason Y. Wood

Another year has nearly passed, and boat buyers and sellers are peering into the great unknown and wondering what the coming season will bring. Just like with any challenges people face, the new year is a time for fresh starts and redoubled efforts. Make some resolutions and make 2012 the best year yet.

If you’re selling your boat, you’ve probably engaged the services of a broker. Resolve to consider that relationship in a new light. “Listen to your broker,” says Jeff Stanley, president of Gilman Yachts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida [(954) 525-8112;]. “You’re dealing with a professional who has been in the business for decades, and he may give you some ideas on what to do, such as improving the condition of your boat, adjusting the price, or possibly paying for some increased advertising.”

You have plenty of advisors in your life who tell you how to manage things: Think about your doctor, or your stockbroker. Your yacht broker has the advantage of outside perspective, too. “If someone’s been doing it for 30 years, they probably have a better handle on it than the seller might,” Stanley says. “The seller ought to distance himself from his own emotions and let someone else take the wheel.”

You don’t have to wait for your broker to come to you. Get proactive and ask his or her opinion on why the boat isn’t selling. If you trust your broker—and you must for this to work—you’ll see the light.

“If the boat has been lagging on the market, maybe the owner would consider doing some improvements to make it more marketable,” says Ted Gersen, brokerage manager for Hinckley Yachts in Portsmouth, Rhode Island [(401) 338-2717;]. “Do some first-impression improvements, varnish the toe rail, get the boat detailed by a professional boat cleaner.” Do what you need to do to give the impression you really want to sell the boat.

As for buyers, they have a simpler task in making a resolution: “Buy a boat,” Gersen says. “It’s time to buy.” Take active steps to move the process forward.

Of course, you have to be confident. “Pick a broker you’re comfortable with and let them work for you,” Stanley says. “That doesn’t mean calling and working with every broker you see on every boat that’s advertised, because you’ll have no one working for you. You can call on boats if you can’t stop yourself, but you might get back to your broker and say ‘I found this one, follow it up for me.’ Of course, there’s got to be that element of trust before that makes any sense. But to be looking at 15 boats with 15 brokers, that’s false economy because no one’s working just for you.” Get into that relationship built on trust, and you’ll start to feel the process has some direction.

And in the meantime, all buyers and sellers can share one resolution: “If you just use your boat more, everything else takes care of itself,” says Bill Walczak of Walczak Yacht Brokerage Service in Annapolis, Maryland. “You get very cranky writing a check for maintenance when you haven’t been out having fun, but when you use it and enjoy it and you won’t mind writing the checks.”