1989 Hunter Legend 40 (Soon to be named.)

She’s well-equipped. She’s immaculate. She’s ours! Below are photos from the survey and test sail…

The cockpit.

Motoring to the haul out. What a beautiful freakin’ yacht!

Me at the helm during the test sail. Sheer bliss.

Inspecting the genny during the test sail – in 18 knots. Smooth as butter.

I love this yacht. And, yes, I’m calling it a “yacht”. Why the hell not? The whole anti-yacht thing is silly. Hell, I think I’ll even order the goofy captain’s hat and a blue blazer. Time to be the “anti-establishment” rebel and bring back the fun.

But I digress. Aside from making yachting cool again, the real goal of this blog will be to walk you through everything that goes into finding, buying, maintaining, and sailing such an awesome yacht. For example, one of the absolute best things about finally buying your yacht? NOT HAVING TO SPEND ALL YOUR FREAKIN’ TIME ON YACHTWORLD LOOKING FOR A FREAKIN’ YACHT!!!

It took me, literally, four years of looking to find her. Of course, even though she’s in great shape there are issues…which will require money and sweat. So stay tuned. Because I’ll walk you through every step and every dollar. For example…

The Price, The Haggle, The Ca-Ching:
Original asking price: $54,900.
My Offer: $43,000.
His Counter: $49,000.
My Counter: $46,000 (or I walk).
He accepts.
Survey turns up some wet deck and standing rigging cracks.
We split those repair costs.
Final purchase price: $42,060.

The Budget:
So what exactly can you expect to get for a $40K budget? That’s a seriously loaded question. $40K can buy you A LOT of boat if you’re willing to go with something under 36′ or over 40 years old. I wanted longer and newer and faster. So my options became somewhat limited. If you’re a connoisseur of YachtWorld, looking at boats in the $40k-$80K range, you’ll notice that $80K absolutely buys you a significantly newer and nicer boat than $40K. No doubt. But does that equal 100% more value? To me…no way. My activity of enjoying huge adventures cruising a big, comfy yacht around with my boys can be done just as easily at $40K as at $80K. Beyond that activity – the equation of higher budget seemed to be more about newness, show and brand. And those weren’t worth another $40K to me for the very same activity.

Also, from a financial perspective, the $40K budget on YachtWorld seemed to be a “breaking point” in the price versus value equation for boats over 37′ and under 30 years old. There was a A LOT of fluctuation in the pricing and condition. To me, this was a good sign that I was in somewhat of a sweet spot. If I could find a newer boat in good condition, and buy it on the lower end of the pricing scale, I was fairly confident it would maintain some value.

Yet, YachtWorld…she is a tempting mistress. Seeing really nice, newer boats in the $60K-$70K range played havoc with my emotions. But I knew that I’d never be able to low-ball those enough to get to my budget. And my budget was my budget. So, I had to stay realistic…and focused.

The Deal:
So, the inevitable question is: “Did I get a ‘good deal'”? Yeah, I think I got a great deal. First, and most importantly, I got the exact brand and type of yacht I wanted, one that has been well taken care of, has fully functional systems, is pretty fast, is pretty well-built, has great manufacturer support, is in the water, is pretty much ready to sail, AND came in very near my originally intended budget of ~$40K. That’s a great deal by any standard. Yet, as I said above, the survey showed some issues which will require some cash (I’ll walk you through those in a future post). So, with the money for those issues let’s push that initial price back up to $46K and compare to other boats on the market.

If you look on Yachtworld and narrow the search for H40s in the 1986-1990 range, the price swing is between $43K and $83K. A HUGE swing. I looked at several of the boats in the lower $40K range and almost without fail they all needed fairly significant work and/or were pretty sparsely equipped. Another consideration was the location of the boat. Moving a boat is expensive, adding up to several thousand dollars depending on the distance. So this was a major factor in my pricing. The faraway deal had to be incredible to cover the expense of the move.

At the end of the day, I wanted to find a Hunter 40 (I was also open to a Beneteau First 37+ and looked at a few) in or near Texas that had a relatively full compliment of gear and electronics, and had been cared for, but that the person really needed to sell…in the middle of a pretty rough market. So I dismissed the high range as being unreasonable…at least for me. And though it literally took me roughly 4 years (admittedly with some really good deals that came and went when I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger), I finally found one that fit.

Next came NADA. After I found this yacht, I ran its configuration through their program. Though NADA didn’t have options for all the equipment on the boat, it was close. Those numbers came out as follows:

Low Retail: $44K
Average Retail: $50K

The surveyor put the value of the boat between $55K-$60K.

So, purely from a financial standpoint, a $46K purchase price should allow me to maintain some value in the boat over the next several years. It’s a good deal I think.

I go into these numbers because many people who are just starting to look for a boat always ask on the forums what they should offer. Many even think that there is some unwritten rule that low-balling is “insulting” to the seller. I don’t see it that way. As a buyer, I have in mind exactly what I want to spend. I allow some swing in that, but am willing to walk if the swing gets too big. No problem. Additionally, I absolutely want the best possible value I can get for my money. This means I need to go after boats that are a fair amount above my budget and make the offer. If the seller doesn’t want it, the seller can easily refuse it and no one is hurt. Assuming you should offer more than you think the boat is worth TO YOU – just to be “nice” is silly. It’s a business transaction pure and simple. Get the best boat you possibly can for YOUR budget (not the seller’s). You just have to be patient, willing to hear “no”, and be willing to walk…over and over again if need be. If you’re in a rush – you’ll pay a premium for that.

So, back to the numbers. The original asking price for my yacht of $55K was right in line with the value of the boat. Yet, we all know that it’s a very rough market right now for selling a boat. I did some research and knew the boat had been moved from one brokerage to another – which told me they were not getting any bites. The seller was out of the country and needed to get the deal done. So, I drove down to Kemah and looked her over very carefully, took lots of photos, etc. (though I didn’t try to play “surveyor” with a phenolic hammer and moisture meter). I just inspected everything as closely as possible, making sure to document my findings. There were problems, but nothing huge. I liked what I saw.

I sent a big list of questions to the broker, along with photos of the issues I found. The seller responded to the questions – acknowledging the issues and clarifying where needed. With that list, I came to a number. I offered $43K (just under the NADA Low Retail figure). The broker choked, but said he’d present it and see what happened. Then the haggling outlined above began.

So, an initial offer that was about 22% below the asking price. Is that “low-balling”? Who cares? It was roughly 7% over my intended budget…so it was my offer. When the countering began, I didn’t want to nitpick – so I made my final offer of $46K. I was now right at 17% below the seller’s asking price, but 14% above mine. So, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, I’d doubled my offer in terms of percentage. That was enough for me. I was ready to walk. Fortunately, he accepted the offer.

The Moral:
So, the moral of the story? As the buyer you have the money – so you have much of the control…as long as you stay within “reason” for the price range (and that’s a very broad definition). The bottom line is…it’s a boat. It’s a horrible “investment”. You will absolutely not get all your money back out of it when you sell. So, just make sure you get the most value you possibly can when you buy. Buying is no time to be “nice” (whatever that really means) – it’s simply time to do a deal that will work for both parties.

One last thing I’ll add…it’s very helpful to have your money sitting there ready to go if possible. If you’re financing, it’s way too easy to overpay – simply due to the fact that (at least perceptually) it’s not coming out of “your pot”. When you’ve got the money in your account ready to go, anything you have to add to that pot of yours tends to sting. That’s good. It helps you stay frosty.

So, go buy a freakin’ yacht for crying out loud! It’s a hell of a fun way to blow vast amounts of cash out over the ocean!

4 thoughts on “SmackYacht!”

  1. Good intel. Haven’t read anyone else’s negotiating experience(s).

    I may need to have you come to Mexico to help low-ball a deal on the H40.5 I’m looking at. :^)

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