Used boat market ‘a ticking time bomb’, says industry insider

Jane Gentry, CEO of the YBDSA, says bargain hunters are buying too many undocumented boats

The brokerage market has become a “ticking time bomb” thanks to bargain hunters taking risks on boats that don’t come with sufficient paperwork, claims one leading industry figure.

Jane Gentry, CEO of the Yacht Brokers Designers & Surveyors Association (YBDSA), said the used boat market was “awash” with undocumented boats and that tighter budgets, the growing prominence of online boat sales and a market full of keen sellers are combining to push buyers into deals that may one day blow up in their faces.

“The stats are alarming: reportedly over half of all the boats that our Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents members have for sale have issues with their paperwork that have to be corrected to ensure legal ownership,” said Gentry.

“The recreational boating market is already awash with vessels that don’t have a proper paper trail, making the whole sector a legal minefield for future buyers and sellers. In the next five years the marine industry is going to have all kinds of problems with undocumented boats.”

Ownership can generally only be proved with a complete paper trail from the original Builder’s Certificate through the various Bills of Sale, but there’s also VAT documentation, the RCD certificate and further paperwork that should be in order when buying or selling a boat.

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To get around the problem, Gentry suggests employing the services of a independent broker and surveyor to make sure the boat you’re buying comes with all the correct paperwork and comes finance-free.

“Generally, buyers have more to lose in these transactions than the sellers, so it pays to be cautious when buying a boat,” said Gentry.

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