The Loan Arranger

Finance your next upgrade and let your money ride in a market poised for a turn.

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In today's financial climate, many of us are striving to reduce our debt and live within our means. We're not running scared, mind you, nor are we selling off assets-least of all the boat. But the idea of trying to secure a loan in the face of the "frozen credit markets" we've all read about seems like a waste of time.

Still, it's not easy to just look at this great buyer's market-prices on good boats are in an enticing state of flux and there are deals to be had. Patient consumers who do their research want to be able to pull the trigger on great values.

"The way the tax code is built, people shouldn't want to lock in losses by selling stock, although people are doing that and paying cash [for boats]," says Tom Smith, founder and president of Sterling Associates and Diamond Marine Financial (www.boatbanker.com). "And one way to avoid that is to finance a purchase."

"There is still financing available," says Lisa Verbit, national marine executive for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management(www.ustrust.com). "We're still very actively engaged in the yacht-lending arena, and we continue to provide guidance and solutions for clients that are in search of yacht loans. In fact, we're seeing a little bit of an uptick in business." So there are folks out there actually asking for-and getting-loans to buy boats. Who are these people?

"Our minimum loan size tends to be around one million dollars," says Verbit. "So at that level in private wealth, we may have a different view than perhaps some other institutions have when times are booming. We are still aggressive for the right clients, but because we're relationship driven, as opposed to transaction driven, I think that has an impact on underwriting." The bottom line: Like most things in the marine business, the relationship is a bit more important than just a dollar figure. The money counts, but it's not the only factor.

"We want the marine loan, but we help with everything," says Smith. "Because we're in between the bank and the customer, we want it to be a good loan for the bank, and we want it to be a good loan for the customer." An important thing to remember about marine-loan specialists: They're working in a limited market, with a finite number of good clients like you. Why shouldn't you get top-flight service?

"You can't just have a cookie-cutter [person] in a call warehouse helping somebody," says Smith. "It's about values, how to get a surveyor, how to document a boat, title a boat, how to coast-guard register the boat, how to fund the transaction." A marine-lending specialist can help to answer these questions and simplify the process.

Get a lender that will work with you and understand your needs. And when it's time to get a new boat-and your lender knows when that is, too-you'll be ready.

"At 42 months, we live for that," says Smith, referring to the length of time betweenthe typical owner's boat purchases. "We'll give him the better deal now, and take less money now, because we know, if we treat him right, he's going to call again, and then we build our

Boat Loan Resources Essex Credit www.essexcredit.com Offshore Financial Bayhead, NJ www.offshorefinancial.com Sterling & Associates Whitinsville, MA www.boatbanker.com SunTrust Bank Fairfax, VA www.suntrust.com

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