Brokerage: Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad North

Successfully surveying and purchasing a “cold climate” brokerage boat during winter months

Burrrrrr! This cooler time of year begins the season of hibernation for lots of yachts in northern climates, including some of those Kadey-Krogen favorites that you are following on the brokerage market. This doesn’t mean, however, that your purchasing ability must follow the same slumber. Opportunities are alive. Sellers want to sell. And you’ll find an advantage over other buyers who are sleeping until spring. All it takes is a little bit of effort, a good pair of mittens, and a conversation with our Kadey-Krogen team of sales professionals to have the boat of your dreams in time for (or before) the next cruising season.

More good news. Yachts that have lived most or part of their life in the north, may have a noticeable youthfulness to them, both cosmetically and mechanically. This is due to their time in use and their exposure to nature’s elements. For instance, the waters of the northern Chesapeake Bay are more brackish, less salty. The Great Lakes enjoy fresh water. And New England-based yachts don’t sun-bake quite like boats do in the hot, hot summer sun of the south. 

So, why all the winter worry? Depending on latitude, a seller may winterize their yacht from autumn until early-to-mid-spring. The two most popular winterization methods for quality yachts and listings are a) a full winterization of systems, then hauled-out, blocked and shrink-wrapped, and b) minor winterization of systems and housed in a heated boat shed. Of course, a yacht may remain at the dock with a de-ice bubbler running, and with its fresh water systems winterized (e.g., deck water bibbs, transom shower). In all cases, winterization causes some degree of handicap, which has some buyers discouraged about the possibility of a timely purchase and survey—so they wait. But…

There’s no reason to be intimidated. Use this time to reach out, research and prepare. A buyer working through Kadey-Krogen’s brokerage has an excellent advantage. If it is a Kadey-Krogen yacht, we built the boat. Next to the seller, we know it the best. If it’s another quality yacht, we strive to offer the best information available. 

Engage your Kadey-Krogen Yachts sales professional to talk through your buying options. While some buyers wait until spring, we can help you with all the homework now—by providing a market analysis, comps, and additional photos that may not be featured on the listing. And, we can tell you how the boat is stored and winterized, so you know what can be completed, or not completed, during a winter survey process. All this will help you research your financing and insurance options and plan your best timing.

What should you expect? Pack those mittens and arrange for a showing! While usually not in the water, most any brokerage yacht can be shown during the winter. With properly set expectations, a buyer can review a winterized yacht inside and out.

Full disclosure: A boat is never going to show as beautifully as she does in the water, when she is all clean, uncovered, systems running, lights on, and pillows fluffed! The reality is usually opposite.

Nonetheless, inside a winterized boat, assessing layout and condition is nearly the same as in-water. One of the biggest advantages to seeing a boat out-of-water is the opportunity to see the hull, its form and condition. When viewing a Kadey-Krogen yacht, the hull is one of the cornerstones that makes us special. Take the opportunity to learn!

A successful survey is achievable. We usually talk about survey after a contract is in place, but the biggest perceived obstacle to purchasing a winterized boat is the survey. So, let’s dive in.

The winter survey process can be negotiated a variety of ways at time of contract, but there are two popular approaches. The first is to schedule the “main” survey within a few weeks of the signed contract, followed by a delay until spring for the “in-water” survey portion, acceptance and closing. The latter survey is completed once a boat is splashed and de-winterized. A winter boat that is out of water can be a benefit to your main survey—the surveyor can take inventory and test most interior items and systems and assess the current condition of the hull and running gear. Once de-winterized and splashed, your surveyor will return to check final mechanics, water-based systems, and on-the-water performance. 

This approach is attractive to a buyer as it follows a more traditional purchase process—and they’ve completed the weeks-to-months-long process in time to start using the boat at the onset of boating season. The seller, however, is at most risk as they are being asked to “hold” the boat off the market for a few months under contract, while closing doors to other potential buyers. While a buyer could offer preliminary acceptance upon the main survey results to make their offer more attractive, there is no guarantee of a final acceptance for the seller until after the in-water survey is complete. 

The second approach is to have a main survey done within a few weeks of contract, followed by a timely acceptance and closing, though all is contingent upon a successful in-water survey in the spring, and using a financial holdback for conditions that may arise. This approach makes an offer more attractive to a seller at time of contract, but the buyer must feel confident that the financial holdback is substantial enough to cover the costs associated with conditions that may come up upon in-water survey.  

Motivated sellers should be fair with either survey approach. They have invested time and money to get to this point, and they ultimately want the boat sold!

See? Buying a boat in the Big Bad North during winter is achievable! Get ahead of sleepy buyers and use these winter months to plan and buy, rather than wait until spring. By then, you’ll already have the boat and be ready to go.

Consider the excellent brokerage options featured in December’s NAVAID (winterized boats, Krogen 52' SKYFALL, Krogen 39' ENDURANCE and Hinckley 29' PATRIOT, are marked with a snow flurry) or view all our brokerage listings online (click here). Then, chat with us about how you can successfully purchase your boat now. We are here to help and be your resource. 

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Note:  If you see a yacht vanish from the market, still inquire if available. Sellers may publicly remove a listing for a short duration over the winter, but it is still very much for sale. 


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