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Certified Check

Look for a broker who's passed the test.

October 26, 2009

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If you’re in the midst of buying a yacht, chances are you’re qualified to be doing what you’re doing.

Question: What makes you think your broker is up to the task? Maybe you’ve had great experiences together in the past. Trust your gut-that good feeling is important, so stay the course. But if you don’t have a broker, or are looking for a new one, do your research and find one that stays up to date on trends and regulations. You want a certified broker.

The National Yacht Broker Certification Program is a volunteer organization that has striven since it began in 1999 to provide a benchmark for brokers based on ethics, industry knowledge, and customer service. State, regional, and national yacht broker associations have been driving the program, encouraging members to seek certification. And while the goals of the program are lofty, that hasn’t prevented its advisory committee from reviewing its standards.

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“We’ve been trying to create a national standard for a professional credential that says hey, this person has a higher ethical standard and way of doing business,” says Chuck MacMahon, a broker with Northrop and Johnson (www.nandj.com) who serves on the Certification Advisory Council. “We hope that the public will recognize that.”

Next question: Why not leave this stuff to the government to manage? “Every state has different requirements: Some have no requirements to be a yacht broker,” says Tom George, president of Tom George Yacht Group in Dunedin, Florida (www.tgyg.com), and a member of the Florida Yacht Brokers Association (FYBA) board of directors. “Some don’t even require you to be licensed. For the State of Florida, you have to be licensed with the state. But, there’s no training required. There’s no exam. The only thing you have to do to be a broker in Florida is to be able to get a $10,000 bond, which you can do pretty easily, and send in a fingerprint card. Then you’ve got to work with another broker, you have to hold a saleman’s license under him, for two years. Then you may apply for your full brokerage license. You don’t even have to sell a yacht.”

But there are requirements to become a Certified Professional Yacht Broker. “Now, CPYB doesn’t guarantee that the guy is going to be perfect, but it says that this guy went through a study session, and an examination that requires some studying, and a solid background of real-world experience,” says George. “But you also have to maintain continuing education. So not only do I have to pass the exam, but then I have to participate in FYBA training seminars every four to five months. That keeps me in tune with the current regulation, current sales-tax laws, current changes that are happening in our industry.”

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Last question: Why are educated brokers important? “So many people have a bad experience with a broker or a boat purchase,” says George. “And we can’t afford to lose those people. If you take care of them, they’ll stick with you, and stay in boating. If brokers do a better job, there’s going to be more people buying boats and having a better experience. Because the minute that guy gets frustrated, everybody loses. The crews lose because they lose a job, the brokers lose because there’s one less guy out there buying.” And most of all, the potential boat owner loses, because the experience of being on the water will change his life for the better.

National Yacht Broker Certification Program, (410) 263-1014; **www.cpyb.net**

Editor’s Picks

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Green With Envy: Kelly Sea is a 2006 Westport 112 raised pilothouse equipped with a world power converter and a 32-foot Boston Whaler tender. Four staterooms and accommodations for a crew of three mean your guests will cruise without a care. Contact Tom George Yacht Group at (727) 709-5020 or www.tgyg.com

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Northern Climes: This 75-foot Northern Marine motoryacht long-range cruiser is called Cheemaun, built in 1998. Three en suite staterooms for six guests provide cruising comfort, from the sheltered aft deck to the fully appointed galley. Contact Northrop and Johnson at (954) 522-3344 or www.nandj.com.

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Hustle Bustle: Maharani is a 62-foot Nordhavn trawler built in 2003. Accommodating six guests in three staterooms, she’s equipped with a light maple interior and stern bustle for easy water access. Contact Northrop and Johnson at (954) 522-3344 or www.nandj.com.

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