I don't know what it is with boat brokers, but at least from a buyer's perspective, they have to be the least dependable group of people I have ever tried to give huge sums of money too. Maybe it's because they technically don't take any commission from buyers, and only get paid by the sellers. But surely they need buyers to buy the boats the sellers are selling, don't they?
I first met a boat broker a couple of years ago in Vancouver, when I went to look at a Lagoon 380 there (which is still for sale two years later – that's some excellent brokerage work). That broker (who worked for a company that rhymed with Fraser Yacht Sales) couldn't have been less interested in showing me the boat. He knew next to nothing about the make and model, and essentially stood there while I worked my way through the boat and back. I wasn't terribly interested in that boat, but asked him to send me as spec sheet for new boats, so I could get an idea of the costs, options, etc. He assured me he would within 24 hours.
Two years later, I'm still waiting for that spec sheet.
Anyway, I thought maybe that was just a typical lame ass left coast approach to boat sales, and I wrote it off as such (although I swore never to buy a boat from that particular brokerage). Unfortunately, that impression has been constantly reinforced over the last couple of weeks with our new attempts to buy a boat.
Here's what my experience has been like so far. For the past several weeks, I have been a pretty hardcore peruser of "yachtworld.com", which, for those who don't know, is the boating world equivalent of porn sites for perverts. In fact, whenever I get looking at a boat I clearly can't afford, we call it "looking at boat porn."
Anyway, I had a good idea of what I was after (boat wise, not porn wise), so I went on to the website of the company that was listing the boat I was most interested in and filled out their "request more info" form. The next day a very pleasant and knowledgeable broker (whose works for a large brokerage, that will remain anonymous, other than to say their name is The Multihull Company) called me, and we went through, in great detail, exactly what I was after. I also told him there was already a boat I was interested in, which happened to be listed with his company. He assured me he would go right to work finding boats that fit my needs, and also asked if I could send him a copy of the listing I was interested in. Sounds great, thought I. Immediately after hanging up with him, I sent him the listing. I figured he could just shout down the hall to the listing broker, they could set me up to see the boat, I'd love it, buy it, and bam, big, easy split commission for both of them.
Two weeks later, I've never heard back from Boat Broker #2.
|Not an option|
So about a week after that original call, I saw another boat that looked good. Starting to realize I wasn't likely to hear back from broker #2, I called the selling broker for this new boat (let's pretend he works with the Florida Yacht Group) . Unfortunately, it had just been sold. He then went on to spend about ½ an hour telling me about another boat that would be perfect, though, and was even nicer than the one I was interested. Punch line to that story – too bad I hadn't called a few days ago, because it had just been sold too. But….he was about to get the listing for another equally nice boat. He expected to know that night, and would call me back the next day.
A week later, I've never heard a word back from Captain J*** (that is really what he calls himself in his ads.).
So, by now, I'm starting to realize that if I want to buy a boat, I can't really depend much on the people who take huge commissions for doing next to nothing, as far as I can tell. I keep haunting the internet daily (usually several times per day - my eyes are starting to hurt), and have come up with a couple more potentials. Two days ago, I finally got smart, and emailed the broker of the first boat I was interested in (yet another fine representative of TMC). He emailed me back right away, and said he would call me the next day. Never heard from him.
So yesterday, I emailed another broker who had an interesting listing. He emailed me back and said he'd call me this morning. Guess what. Never heard from him either (company pseudonym – Annapolis Yacht Sails).
So this morning, I finally decided to get aggressive, and called the broker of the first boat, that started this whole thing, long distance B.C. to Florida, at my own expense. "Oh yeah," he says. "I meant to call you, but got busy." No kidding. Must have been a crisis day at the Multihull Company. Not surprisingly, he had never heard of me from the original broker I talked to, who works for the same flippin' company. Anyway, to his credit, he does seem to know what he is talking about, and he has been quick back and forth on the email since. It actually looks like we might have a viewing arranged.
|Ain't gonna happen|
Given all this, you can imagine my surprise when I received a call from Alina Lauriero at Just Catamarans today. I had emailed her yesterday as well, and she had told me she would call me back today. Technically she was a couple of hours later calling than she said she would be, but this is the first broker I have encountered so far who actually called me on the day they said they would.
Not only that, but she proved to be extremely knowledgeable, engaging and pleasant on the phone. To top it all off, my jaw nearly hit the floor when she actually went so far as to say she wouldn't recommend the boat I had enquired about, and went on to make other extremely appropriate recommendations, some of which weren't even represented by her company.
The whole thing was a bit Twilight Zonish – a broker who actually sounded like she was interested in helping me find the right boat, at the right price. I was even more impressed when I realized that Just Catamarans is the company where the infamous Bumfuzzles (www.bumfuzzle.com) started out, and they still employ Kent, who Pat and Ali joked about taking on their trip with them, given how much he helped them when they were starting out. Anyway, things are looking up, at least from a broker perspective. Still haven't found the perfect boat yet, but there are a few possibilities out there, so our fingers are crossed.
Anyway, if anyone is looking for a job where a little get up and go could make them the most successful person on the planet, I suggest looking into becoming a boat broker.