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Yacht Brokers and Surveyors ‎– ‎Collaboration to Guarantee a Happy Customer

By: JP Skov, CPYB, Executive Director, YBAA

YBAA Email Image sales tips Sept 2022

I was recently invited to do a presentation on the relationship between yacht brokers and marine surveyors. The idea sounded simple, how can a surveyor and a yacht broker work together to keep the customer happy? My gut reaction was to focus on communication. By improving communication and foster transparency there should be no surprises along the way, easy enough.

Before we get too far along, a quick word on referring a surveyor. Yacht brokers are in a tough position when it comes to recommending a marine surveyor. On the one hand their clients look to them for expertise and counsel in all matters relating to the boat purchase. On the other hand, clients may want to hold their broker responsible for any problems relating to the purchase. And since an undiscovered defect in the vessel can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs, the recommendation and selection of a surveyor can be very tricky. The best approach is to recommend your client search for their marine surveyor through one of the two major certification associations in North America, NAMS or SAMS.

The first thing is to ensure everyone understands their role and responsibilities in the boat buying process. I have come to realize that both the surveyor, and the broker can make some assumptions that end up leading to expectations for the customer that might not be reality. A quick example would be a surveyor telling the customer the launch of the vessel was included before he verified it with the listing broker the status of the vessel launch. The other side is a selling broker telling the customer there are only three issues of any significance and then the survey shows up and the surveyor uncovered five issues that need to be addressed. Both examples above are easily avoided if the broker and the surveyor share open communicate throughout the entire process.

A normal boat transaction will consist of up to two brokers, one surveyor, a buyer, and a seller. The listing broker represents the seller, the selling broker represents the buyer, and the surveyor represents the buyer. In some transactions there is one broker that represents both the listing and the selling side.

What are the roles of a surveyor, selling broker and listing broker? I’m glad you asked.

The role of the surveyor is:  

  1. Conduct an inspection of the vessel and its systems to ensure they are functioning properly.
  2. Prepare a report on the findings of the inspection.
  3. Review and interpret findings so the buyer can understand.
  4. Provide the buyer with a written report that is acceptable to their insurance and finance providers.


The role of the selling broker is:

  1. Schedule the short haul or launch with a marina approved, by listing broker and provide that marina with the customer’s contact information for invoicing of services the marina will provide.
  2. Consult with listing broker to confirm the vessel will be ready for survey on the date available at the marina.
  3. Advise the customer of what to expect on the survey date, down to the expectation of them paying their invoice prior to the launch of the vessel.
  4. Be present at the survey to answer any questions the customer might have during the process and be available to review the survey findings with the customer.

Lastly, the roles of the listing broker are:

  1. Be the link for all communication to the seller of the vessel.
  2. Advise seller of their preparation responsibilities prior to the survey.
  3. Secure an owner approved captain to run the vessel for the sea trial.
  4. Be present at the beginning of the survey to give access, be onboard for sea trial and at the end of the survey secure the vessel on behalf of the seller.

Now that we have an outline of responsibilities for the brokers and the surveyor let's discuss the customer. Understanding that the customer may be a first-time boat buyer and will need guidance every step of the way. The customer will probably need you to help them understand and interpret the survey findings. Be ready to help create a plan to prioritize the survey recommendations and how to get the issues resolved. Use the Do’s and Don’ts below to allow you to serve your customers better. Remember the customer is chasing a lifelong dream, help them achieve it!


Do's Don'ts


Do's Don'ts
All communication goes through selling broker Don’t assume you know the terms of the P&S
Advise buyer and broker of major findings Do not communicate directly with the owner or the listing broker of the vessel
Review findings with buyer and broker Do not issue work orders to the yard
Deliver survey report punctually, be respectful of contract dates

Do not re-engineer the boat, inspect based on the age of the boat and standards for the era


Do's Don'ts

Broker (Both Selling and Listing)

Do's Don'ts
listing broker is communicating all responsibilities of getting the boat ready for survey to the seller don't share contract price with surveyor
listing broker is responsible for having vessel ready for survey and keeping selling broker and surveyor up to date selling broker, do not communicate directly with the owner of the vessel
selling broker provides access to the boat listing broker, do not communicate directly with the buyer
selling broker is responsible for communicating with the buyer, surveyor and the yard listing broker should not communicate directly with the surveyor without the knowledge of the selling broker
selling broker is responsible for scheduling with the yard selling broker don't hold back any issues that have been disclosed
selling broker should review survey findings with the buyer and surveyor  

JP Skov, CPYB, Executive Director, YBAA


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