Its 2022 and we have decided to take the first step into the world of blogging!
We hope you might find some of the content helpful.
Its 2022 and we have decided to take the first step into the world of blogging!
We hope you might find some of the content helpful.
You have just put a deposit down on a boat ... should you have a survey?
Yes is the answer, that is, unless you like to take a chance on something that is costing you a substantial sum of money and may have issues.
Do not be pressured by a Broker or Vendor to not have a survey - if this happens, ask yourself why!
Should you just choose any old surveyor, like, the one that can do it the soonest, or the one that does not charge much?
In our opinion, you should choose your surveyor well.
What do we mean by that?
Take time to ring round and talk to a few surveyors before making a decision. Ask them about their experience of the type of vessel you want them to survey - narrowboats are a unique type of craft, and some surveyors have little experience with this type of vessel. In our experience, purchasers that choose surveyors with little, or no knowledge of the type of vessel you want them to survey, tend to have a less than desirable outcome.
Ask them what they will look at during their survey and how they actually carry out the survey. Make sure that they are aware of your expectations from the survey – for example, if you have concerns about a particular area, then you should mention this to your chosen surveyor. If you would like to see the boat out of the water and attend the survey, then ask them. Do not be surprised however, if your surveyor is reluctant for you to attend – most would prefer you to leave them alone so that they can concentrate on the job in hand without interruptions. Many surveyors however, are happy for you to turn up towards the latter end of the survey to have a chat with them about any findings.
One thing you should be aware of is that there are no legal requirements for a surveyor to be qualified. In essence, most are, although their qualifications and experience will be vast, so talking to them will ensure you get to know them and what they can or cannot do.
Look for a surveyor that is a member of a reputable surveyors organisation, such as the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA) or International Institute Of Marine Surveyors (IIMS). There are other organisations too, and a good surveyor will be a member of one or more organisation.
Whilst some Brokers put a 2 week limit on completion of sale, at the end of the day, if the surveyor you wish to commission has a waiting list, then so be it, all parties will have to wait. If you are pressured in to rushing, you should ask yourself why.
Remember your surveyor is working for you and is paid by you.
So, what is the purpose of a survey?
Well it most definitely is not so that you can come back with a shopping list of works for the Vendor in order to get a reduction.
The purpose of a survey is to ascertain the condition of the vessel, hence it is called a Pre-purchase condition survey. This then informs you of the condition, allowing you to make an informed decision on what you are taking on or whether you would rather not proceed with the purchase.
Obviously, there are always things that crop up on survey that might require further negotiation and these are always taken account of.
How much should a survey cost?
Like almost everything in life, you get what you pay for in our experience, and every surveyor will have their own charge.
Expect to pay somewhere between £550 and £800 plus the cost of getting the vessel out of the water. If your chosen surveyor is offering a cheap price, you might have to ask yourself why.
Should you share the survey report with the Broker?
We always ask to see a copy of the full report if negotiations are required and in fact, when you pay your deposit with us, you are agreeing to these terms. This way we can see exactly what the surveyor has reported, as sometimes purchasers read a report in a different way to how it was intended to read. It can help us with any further negotiations with the Vendor, and it will certainly help us in pricing up works. However, as mentioned in a previous blog, please remember that a Vendor does not HAVE to negotiate or correct any works needed. As said above, the survey is for your information to see what works you may have to do going forwards in your boat ownership.
So, you want to sell your boat?
Great, that’s what we do, but lets talk about the two P's ...
Present your boat clean and tidy. Make sure the outside has been washed and make sure the inside has been cleaned. That includes inside cupboards and drawers, the oven and the toilet.
A car salesman once told me “Clean wheels, glass and mats” will make the car shine through.
Make sure you remove non important items and just leave the useful items onboard - there is nothing worse than a boat that is full of junk.
Make sure the boat has been maintained - you would be amazed how a well maintained boat presents compared to a neglected one. You may not have used the engine much, but it still requires an annual service. Purchasers get really nervous when engine servicing has not been carried out, that goes for hull blacking too!
Ensure everything works as it should - if it doesn’t work, then please be honest about it and we can declare any defects in our brochure. This makes it easier at offer and survey time. If you have had a water leak that has caused staining, then ensure it has been cured and make good the stained area - water staining makes purchasers uneasy.
Price your boat well - as Vendors, we understand that you want to make as much as you can, but beware ... it is human nature to want to spend as little as possible, and what most purchasers want, is to spend the right money on the right purchase.
Yes, boat prices are high at the moment, lack of supply and high demand, but that doesn’t mean your boat is worth £30,000 more!
Steel and raw materials may have increased or be short in supply, but that doesn’t mean your boat value has increased that much.
Some purchasers may be new to boats, but most are savvy and will not pay over the odds. Don’t forget, with the World Wide Web at our call 24 hours a day, there is plenty of information out there. Social media and online forums allow information to be gleaned from lots of different people who are all ready to give you advice, whether that advice is good bad or indifferent.
If you really want to market your boat at a price that is over the odds, then of course, as a Broker we will do that (within reason), after all, selling boats is how we make a living. But, be prepared for the boat to have no or little viewings, or lots of low offers put forward, which is telling you something.
With boats selling as fast as they are at the moment, you have to ask yourself why yours has not sold ....... Presentation or Price? Or sometimes, both!
Buying a boat? Blog coming soon ....
So, you want to buy a boat?
Great, we broker boats and can help, but here is some handy advice:
Know what you want - we were all new to boats at one point, but do your research and have an idea of what it is you are looking for. Be honest to the Broker as to your experience, that way they can help you.
Have a budget and only view boats you can afford. If you have a budget of £60,000 don’t think that the vendor of an £80,000 boat will accept a cheeky offer, because they won’t.
When you find the boat you like the sound of, make sure you go and see it as soon as possible. If you book an appointment for the weekend, don’t be surprised if the boat sells before then, as in the current climate, the right boats sell fast.
When you view the boat, make sure that you actually view the boat! So many purchasers take a 5 minute walk through and then leave. If its not the one for you then fine, but if you like the boat, take the time to look. And when we say look, we mean look – look in all the cupboards, look around the windows for staining, look at the ceiling for staining around the ventilation, look at the cooking facilities in the galley, look at the seating and sleeping arrangements, look at the paint condition, look at the canopy condition – It sounds obvious, but it is surprising how many second viewings result in the purchaser seeing things that they totally missed on the first visit. Or even worse, the purchaser does not come back for a second viewing, but after survey, then wants a reduction on things that they would have seen when viewing.
If you really like the boat then our advice is commit to buy it! If you’re unsure then take some time to think about it. Yes, we know that boats are selling fast, and it might be gone, but if you’re not sure, then it might not be the one for you.
In this current climate we are seeing a lot of purchasers putting a deposit down and then taking their time to get the survey and other details sorted. This is a classic delaying technique whilst they look for a better boat, and just waste everyone’s time. So, with this is mind, should we be like other brokers and make our deposits non-refundable? Vendors would like us to, but purchasers are happy with our fully refundable deposit policy. A controversial subject, and perhaps one for another blog!
When its time to make an offer, the price on the brochure is the asking price for the boat, however, there is currently a trend for making offers, so if you wish to make an offer, make one that shows your intention to purchase. Remember, if you do not offer the asking price you have already put the Vendor on the back foot when it comes to any further negotiation that may be required at a later stage. Top Tip: Vendors do not HAVE to negotiate at the sales stage or following survey.
Be honest about where the money is coming from to buy the boat, there is nothing worse than saying you have money in the bank, for the purchase process, only to later reveal that it is actually coming from a pension or house sale that will take months to release the funds. The truth always catches you up in the end.
Talking of house sales, a lot of people are selling their bricks and mortar to buy a boat. Sometimes this requires the house to have sold to release the funds for the boat purchase. Do not be surprised if the Broker or Vendor will not accept your offer if your house has not sold or there is no completion date set. We all know that house sales at this current time are such an unknown when it comes to timings, and if you choose not to be honest about the process, expect to be found out when you are chased for a date to complete the boat purchase.
Finally, once you have an offer accepted then its time to organise a survey, more on that soon ...
Reflecting on the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent events.
As I sit at home in isolation, feeling sorry for myself having tested positive for Covid for the second time, I have had plenty of time to think and reflect about the pandemic and the effect it had/has on the business. So, I decided to put pen to paper and here are my thoughts ….
For the last two years, all our lives have been engulfed by Coronavirus which has been a challenge for many, with some dark days and sadness being experienced by almost every human being on the planet. Not just in our personal lives, but in our business lives too.
On the 16th March 2020, the Prime Minister spoke words than none of us wanted to hear … everyone had to stop non-essential contact with people, and non-essential travel, and on the 23rd March 2020, the UK encountered the first national lockdown. For the majority of people, there was so much fear and uncertainty about the virus, and as a Boat Brokers we were forced to close as we were not deemed an essential service or shop. We managed to stay afloat (no pun intended), thanks to the very generous furlough scheme which enabled us to furlough all our staff, leaving the Directors working from home. It was a very tough time for the business and indeed, the inland waterways industry as a whole. As with most businesses, we had to re-think our practices and devise new ways of working that would allow us to continue operating in a socially distanced way, abiding by all the new rules and regulations, and this was really quite challenging.
Just as we were exiting the first lockdown in June 2020 and starting to return to 'normal', albeit with some restrictions still in place, our euphoria about being able to trade again, came crashing down when we were given six months notice by Castle Marinas Ltd, meaning that we were going to loose our sales berths at Crick and Cropredy, and our partner marina agreement with Brinklow. As you can imagine, this was a huge blow to us, and at the time, looking back, we were dismayed, disheartened and extremely worried about the future of the business.
Thankfully, for some years, we had been in discussion with North Kilworth Marina about running a brokerage from the marina, and indeed, we were already selling boats from that site, and so, after more discussions, we decided to progress this move and it was full steam ahead both for us and for North Kilworth Marina to get the offices ready for us to move in on the anticipated date of 1st January 2021. Little did we know, that another lockdown was looming and this date was not going to be achievable.
From 15th June 2020 when we re-opened, we were the busiest we had ever been. It seemed that people had re-evaluated their lives, and with travel abroad being so uncertain, everyone wanted to buy a boat. Boat prices were going up and up and people were happy to pay the increasing prices, which was great for sellers! The problem we faced, was that with the uncertainty about foreign travel and holidays, many boat owners wanted to keep their boats. We also had another broker on the scene – Castle, as well as other brokerages starting to emerge. With so many people wanting a boat, and so many boat owners not selling, coupled with all the Brokers competing for the few available boats, the supply of boats coming through was dire compared to previous years. For example, in 2019, we would have had 70 boats on the books in the summer months. In 2020, we were, at times, down to 1 or 2! As soon as a boat came in, it sold.
We also had local lockdowns and tier systems to deal with, which made operating a bit of a faff. Leicestershire for example was put into local lockdown on the 4th July 2020, meaning that we couldn't do viewings at North Kilworth Marina. Caen Hill, another of our partner marinas was also put in a local lockdown, so we couldn't organise viewings there. It was all very frustrating, both for us and vendors and purchasers alike.
Then, on the 31st October 2020, the Prime Minister announced another national lockdown and from the 5th November 2020 we were plunged into further doom and gloom and had to furlough staff again, leaving the Directors running the business from home again. This time however, a glimmer of hope for the business was that, after taking advice, we were able to conduct viewings for customers who were purchasing boats to live on, much the same as Estate Agents were able to continue with their business. Some surveyors were also still working, so we managed to complete on sales during the lockdown period. We then had a brief period of freedom during December 2020, where we bought staff back to work, but this was short lived and on the 6th January 2021 the UK entered a third national lockdown! It was at this time that the last ABNB brokerage boat at Crick Marina was moved out and our agreement with Castle terminated.
We pushed ahead with our plans to move office to North Kilworth Marina, and, on the 12th April when non-essential retail were allowed to re-open, all our brokerage boats had been moved to the site and we officially opened our new office on site. I think I speak for the whole ABNB team here - we all love being at North Kilworth Marina. Our offices are a splendid environment to work from, the staff at the Marina have welcomed us with open arms, and more importantly, the services and facilities on site are perfect for our Brokerage. In short, I believe that our service to customers has improved ten fold. We can organise lift out's at the drop of a hat, and surveyors like surveying at North Kilworth Marina as the crane can lift the boat high enough for them to easily see and check the bottom plates. Any works required following survey can be carried out by the on-site engineers in their state of the art, heated workshops. Blacking can be carried out on-site, including bottom plates, and of course, John Barnard is also on site for any boat painting (although he does have a long waiting list).
The story doesn't end there though. Although we seem to have come through the other side of the pandemic (although I'm personally not convinced we really have), and for some, it now seems a distant memory, I think I would be right in saying that the inland waterways market has changed and we face new challenges ahead with the limited supply and high demand still very much apparent.
Whilst I am writing this, let us not forget Crick Wharf which was home to ABNB since 1999. This beautifully peaceful little wharf is now a small marina for 24 private moorings and is filling up nicely. Still run by the same owners of ABNB, but now registered as a separate company (Crick Wharf Marina Ltd). In effect, our move to North Kilworth Marina expanded our business, so perhaps we should be saying that every cloud has a silver lining.
As with the rest of the world, in all our 27 years of trading, we have never experienced anything like this and it has been a bumpy roller-coaster of a ride for the last two years. We are not out of the woods yet, but I do think there may be a slight glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel .... and a 30th birthday party awaiting us in the not too distant future!