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How to Buy a Used Yacht

There’s something very satisfying when you buy a used yacht – selecting the make and model, deciding on a layout, picking the colours, the fabrics, the engines and the electronics and seeing your perfect boat take shape in front of your eyes. But there’s something equally satisfying about buying a well-kept used boat, where the price is lower, any early teething troubles have been remedied under warranty and where you can buy the boat you see rather than waiting for the build process to take its course.

The sheer breadth of choice is also a major benefit. Whether classic or modern, current or obsolete, standard or bespoke, there are so many options on the used market that a well-managed search can reward you with something even closer to your idea of the perfect boat than a newly commissioned custom build. And the fact that your money goes further means the size, scale and calibre of boat available for consideration is all the more likely to furnish you with the things you really want.

 Think about the big questions

Whether you understand the practical process of how to buy a second-hand yacht or not, your first step is always to reach a point of absolute clarity over what you need from your new boat. Do you favour day space over sleeping facilities? Do you want to have guests on board for lunch? Do you want to go boating all year round? Do you need sunbathing space? Do you want to fish? Do you want to enjoy towed watersports? Does it need to be easy to crew for a family of novices? And what kinds of speed, range and fuel flow will enable you to enjoy it to the utmost? There are plenty of used yachts for sale but a proper assessment of how you and your family actually plan to use it will immediately begin to narrow down a selection of boat types, sizes, and layouts. You can then identify two or three specific boat models that fit the bill and approach the used market with a constructive plan.

Find a boat and collect your evidence

You need to ensure you ask the right questions about the boat you want to buy, or put yourself in the hands of experts like those at Princess Motor Yacht Sales, who have already assessed the boat’s condition, market price, history, finance and ownership status on your behalf. If you decide to take things further, you can then transfer your findings to a formal Sale and Purchase Agreement. This is a contractual document outlining the terms of the sale that both parties need to agree upon and sign. It should provide specific details relating to the boat, including an inventory of items and any documents relating to title, finance, registration, tax and maintenance that are to be included in the sale. It should also state a price that, if agreed upon, may be subject to the satisfactory completion of a survey, an engine assessment and a sea trial.

Take your research a step further

Once the Sale & Purchase Agreement is in place, it’s time for a Pre-Purchase (or Full Condition) survey. The purpose of this is to give the buyer a firm idea of a boat’s condition and value, with an itemised list of issues that need attention and a clear indication of their relative urgency and importance. If a purchase is conducted through the Princess Motor Yacht Sales Used Direct scheme, any necessary remedial work will already have been attended to – and equally, while privately commissioned marine surveys provide only limited information regarding the state of a boat’s engines, yachts sold through Princess Motor Yacht Sales Used Direct will also have received specialist engine assessments from experienced marine engineers.

With the survey report and engine assessment safely in hand, many buyers will feel sufficiently confident about a yacht to go ahead with the purchase. Others, however, may prefer to organise a sea trial to help confirm their previous findings and to examine the things that can’t so easily be assessed alongside. To that end, the buyer should try as far as possible to recreate a regular family day out – to sit in every seat, press every button, climb every staircase and pay attention to the comfort, the refinement, the security and the boat handling. You can also cross-reference the revs, speed and fuel-flow data to expected parameters and it’s also a great time to think about what, if anything, you might want to change or upgrade – either to make the boat feel more bespoke or to tailor it to your favoured marine pursuits.

Finish the job with a Bill of Sale  

Once you reach the end of the process, with an agreed price that encompasses any changes necessitated by your research, you need a Bill of Sale to transfer the title of the boat into your name. In all cases, the Bill of Sale should include details of the buyer, the seller and the boat, alongside a clear statement of the agreed price. It should be signed by both parties in the presence of a witness and, following completion of the transfer of funds, the boat is yours.

View our selection of pre-owned yachts, available now