The Maze – Buying a Boat

So, in the world of buying boats, just how many people take a loan compared to how many people pay cash? Inquiring minds want to know.

I reached out to Curtis Stokes, whose yacht brokerage sells lots of Looper boats, to get his take on it.

I also asked, of the people who don’t take out a loan, how do most of them come up with the cash?

He wasn’t able to help with the second question, as he really doesn’t get into the intimate details of how people are able to fund a boat.  He just sees when the money hits the escrow account.

But regarding the question of what percentage of people take a mortgage, he says that with the current low interest rates, about half of his boat buyers take out a boat mortgage.

And he has some words of wisdom when it comes to boat mortgages. Things I would not have thought of, but which make perfect sense.

If you are planning to finance you boat with a mortgage, Curtis Stokes encourages people to apply for financing when you are still working. Banks are not as willing to loan to retirees, regardless of your assets. He suggests that you even buy the boat before retiring and store it until you are ready to cruise.

(The brain is spinning trying to figure out how to do that while living thousands of miles away…I’m thinkin’ frequent flyer miles play into it.)

Another fact to keep in mind, one which I first heard from Technomadia, who learned it from Curtis Stokes, is that if you are financing, you will need to focus on newer boats, as banks do not want to finance boats older than 30 years old, and they charge a higher rate for boats older than 20 years old.

Interesting stuff. Buying a boat has some real nuances, doesn’t it?

It is in this maze of figuring out what kind of boat you want and how big and how old and…and…and…that a broker such as Curtis Stokes really is valuable.

He has great knowledge on how to buy a boat. His firm is used by many Loopers as a “buyer’s broker”. He has well-respected sales associates in various places around the country who will help you avoid buying a lemon and save you time, aggravation, and money.

Here are Cherie and Chris, Technomadia, interviewing Curtis Stokes about the boat buying process.

The buyer’s broker will also help you avoid having to deal with a myriad of boat brokers.

Have you looked at many boats? Have you talked to many boat brokers on your search?

Last year Lance and I were on a business trip and noticed that one of the type of boats on our “potentials” list was for sale in a town just a couple hours out of our way. We were interested in seeing if the advertised 6’6” headroom was a reality (it wasn’t). We just wanted to physically walk onto the boat to see if his head touched the ceiling (it did).

We arranged with the listing broker to arrive at a certain time to see the boat. We were very upfront that we were not interested in buying “today” and just wanted to see about the headroom. But before we were able to go out to the boat, we had to sit in the broker’s office and tell him our life story and hear his life story.

I don’t begrudge him earning a living and I understand that part of that is building rapport, but it is a big hassle if you have to do that every time you want to see a boat.

Having a buyer’s broker helps you not have to deal with all those selling brokers. Presumably, you can tell your life story and preferences just once.

And the buyer’s broker, with the experience of many similar stories from many similar buyers, can ask the questions that will help tease out the specifics of what you really need or want.

The buyer’s broker knows the boats that are for sale around the country. This is especially useful when it is a broker like Curtis Stokes who specializes in the kinds of boats Loopers need and is familiar with a number of the boats who are travelling the Loop at any given time.

One Looper couple in our local area bought their boat through Curtis Stokes. He knew of their plan to sell the boat after the loop and brought a buyer to them before they had even finished the loop. Talk about a win-win-win situation!

When the time comes to navigate the purchase of our looper boat, I expect we’ll have him on speed dial!

2 Replies to “The Maze – Buying a Boat”

  1. Have you found a boat you like that does have headroom? I’m 6’7″ and in the planning stages for the loop (have been for 4 yrs). Any info you’ve discovered about boats with room for us tall folks would be greatly appreciated!

    1. We are only looking at a 6’5″ plus shoes constraints, so I can’t really answer for sure for 6’7″.

      Of course, the bigger the boat, the more likely it is to have headroom. We’re hoping to keep to the 40′-ish range and the ones in our budget range are the Bayliner 4087 and the Mainship 400. The boat we walked on that did not work was a Mainship 390. It was OK in portions of the salon, but not throughout. We hear that it may depend on the year.

      We have a friend with a Sabreline Swift Trawler that has nice headroom in the living areas, but the bed on that model has walls on both ends of the bed, rather than space to overhang your feet.

      I think some of the more expensive boats in that size also have some good headroom, but we haven’t specifically checked them out: Kady Krogen, Manatee, Great Harbor.

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