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How We Bought Our Boat, Part 2

If you haven’t already, read Part 1 here

Buying a boat is challenging, especially if you haven’t done it before: The boat you are looking for could be anywhere in the world. Private sellers often have crazy ideas of what their boat is worth. Many, many brokers are worse than used car salesmen. The boat listings are often incomplete, frequently dishonest, and at the very least they are excessively “optimistic” in misrepresenting boat condition. Add in the potential buyer’s inexperience in this market, plus a purposefully obscured price database (the inaccuracy and inaccessibility of soldboatdata’s info is unforgivable in this era, especially when compared to Zillow for houses, and Truecar for autos). It can be a painful, time consuming, and expensive process!

In Part 1 I talked about 5 important decisions we reached. After much consideration we decided that we’d shop for a Leopard 40 as our first choice boat, while keeping an eye out for a screaming deal in our other favorite models (Lagoon 410, Lipari 41). However, the Leopard 40 made sense for our 5 key decisions:

1-Even the charter layout of the L40 had a separate shower stall, something not found on other boats in this size range. This layout with 4 cabins has only 2 heads, each with adequate space and a separate shower. Why manufacturers try to cram 4 heads into a 40’ boat is beyond me.

2-The L40 was made from 2005-2009, perfect for our 10 year old target age.

3-There were about 10 Leopard 40s on the market that we considered. Broker listed boats on, boats on, on, and on were all fair game.

4-We considered some Florida boats, but prioritized boats further south in the Caribbean. Florida boats seemed to list about 10% higher, and we weren't looking forward to beating our way along the Thorny Path as new sailors.

5-Since most of these boats were 10 years old, many of them had solar, upgraded systems, newer sails.

It was decision time….so I did what every nerd does: I made a spreadsheet. Actually, I started this spreadsheet a year before we purchased. This year of observation was important, because it allowed me to realize that the original listing price is not the price that the boat will actually sell at, and often it’s too high of a price to even get real offers. So whenever a new boat came on the market, I took note of the listing price, and every few months as the price inevitably dropped I updated the spreadsheet until the boat was sold. When it sold, I stalked the new owner and asked them what the final sale price was. From these data points, I could predict with good accuracy what price a Leopard 40 of a certain age and condition and location should sell for. I now had broker level knowledge, albeit for only one specific model of boat.

Here's a >>link<< to the spreadsheet, although to protect the private parties involved I’ve removed some of the details such as boat name and specific location. Still, you’ll get the idea, and you’ll see how we weighted certain features: green for an extra point, white for neutral, red for minus one.

Which boat do you think we chose? Which boat would you choose? I'd be curious to hear others' opinions in the comment section! What do you think of the spreadsheet? Did I miss anything? How would you do it differently?

Up next, Part 3: The boat, the survey, and the unpleasant surprises... Follow along on our FB, Insta, or scroll down to subscribe to our blog!