Breaking the Code

Brokerage ads have a language all their own.


If you're looking to buy a yacht now, or next year, or you're just looking, you probably like to glance at the brokerage ads in this part of the magazine. But some boat ads have hidden messages. Here's what the brokers may be telling you.

Brand Awareness: Many boat ads list a broker's name. This may mean that he's hanging out his shingle as a specialist. "If a broker advertises a particular manufacturer, especially in the custom sportfish market, then he's probably going to get calls from other owners of similar brand-manufactured boats interested in selling," says Joel Lipton, a partner in United Yacht Sales in Stuart, Florida. "They perceive the broker has expertise in that particular style of boat and that builder."

Just the Facts: Just as good listing brokers give thought to what goes into their ads, buyers' brokers get right to the point as they search for a boat. "Concentrating on what a customer is trying to buy, I've got to cull through 15 different listings," says Mike McCarthy, a broker for HMY Yacht Sales who works in the Stuart, Florida, office. "You gravitate to the one that kind of spells it out. [A good ad] makes it easy to sell. All day long, I talk to yacht brokers and potential buyers. And it always goes to the same bullet points. How many engine hours? What's the general service on the boat? What are the greatest hits in regards to optional equipment?"

Priceless: If the ad doesn't include a price, the broker is trying to pique your curiosity. If you're calling, you're a serious prospect. "A lot of brokerage houses do not put a price down," says Lipton. "We all know that the price that appears in the advertisement is an ask price. That may not be the final price where the product is sold, but it's an indication of where the boat is on the marketplace."

No matter how you get the price, it's what you do with it that counts. "We put the facts of the listing into an excel spreadsheet, side by side, for an apples-to-apples comparison," says McCarthy. "You could easily find a boat that's $100,000 cheaper in the marketplace and that initially may seem like a very attractive deal. But when you start reading between the lines and see that it's just about due for a major overhaul and before you know it you're a quarter-million dollars more into the boat."

Points for Creativity: A careful buyer will look for the hidden meaning in seemingly innocuous descriptions. "I love the one where it says 'Brand-new running gear: new props, shafts, and struts,'" says McCarthy lightheartedly. "Really, the guy just woke up and elected to redo the whole running gear." It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what happened, and where potential trouble spots may be.

A listing that highlights "new paint" may be more than a fresh coat. "Sometimes you could have a problem with a boat that has delaminated or someone hit something and there is damage," says Lipton. "You could have blisters in the fiberglass, you could have water intrusion, and they would have had to do major repair work." Repairs aren't always bad, but they're good to know about.

Ads hold plenty of information, if you know where to look, and they can chart the first leg of the voyage to your next yacht.

HMY Yacht Sales; www.hmy.com_; United Yacht Sales;_ _www.unitedyacht.com_

| |1. "A lot of brokers don't put the prices up there," says Joel Lipton of United Yacht Sales, "and I think that's a waste of the public's time and a waste of the broker's time."2. "The general rule of thumb is, especially in older boats, any kind of capital improvement [like new electronics] will help your boat sell first, not for more money," says Mike McCarthy of HMY Yacht Sales.3. "One boat turned out to be completely head-to-toe leopard skin," said McCarthy. "I don't think the guy did himself any favors."|

Editor's Picks

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Pool Party: Sue's Pool III is a Hatteras 65 LRC motoryacht built in 1982 with a four-stateroom, three-head layout. Enjoy the benefits of a Jack Hargrave design with a Portugese bridge, covered side decks, and a walk-in engineroom. Contact United yacht Sales at (772) 463-3131 or

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Open For Business: This Cabo 45 Express has twin 1,100-horsepower MAN diesels with just 156 hours. Equipped to fish with a tower, teaser reels, and outriggers, this express has a spacious cockpit and a two stateroom layout. Contact United yacht Sales at (772) 463-3131 or

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Sporting Life: This 2005 Viking Sport Cruiser 75 has four staterooms plus crew quarters. Powered by twin 1,675-horsepower Cat C32s, she's also equipped with bow and stern thrusters for close maneuvering. Contact HMY Yacht Sales at (772) 692- 7900 or