When purchasing a pre-owned yacht or houseboat, using a good marine surveyor is a must. When spending the amount of money it takes to buy a yacht or houseboat these days it is smart to hire a neutral 3rd party to give you as the buyer an unbiased opinion of the condition of the vessel you are purchasing. Just as you would have someone inspect a house you are buying.
One thing I have seen since coming home is that a lot of people do not understand the importance of a marine surveyor or the correct way to hire one. I wanted to write a little article to help shine a light on the dos and don’ts of hiring a marine surveyor.
The most important rule of hiring a marine surveyor is never hire a surveyor recommended by the yacht broker. It is highly unethical for a broker to recommend a marine surveyor to a client. The broker has a vested interest in selling the vessel and a surveyor recommended by them or from their web site will generally result in a surveyor that is working with the interest of the broker at heart and not the buyer. As a licensed and certified yacht broker myself, seeing this unethical slight of hand happening to people disturbs me to no end and is one of the reasons I am writing this.
When selecting a marine surveyor, it is important to select an accredited surveyor. If the surveyor is not accredited then the survey is not going to satisfy a financier or insurance company’s requirements. S.A.M.S. is an association that accredits and trains marine surveyors. If a surveyor is not S.A.M.S. accredited, stay away. You can go to S.A.M.S. site to see all of the accredited surveyors in your area. (http://www.marinesurvey.org/)
S.A.M.S. site is also the best place to find your surveyor. No, your home work is not over yet. Once you find accredited surveyors in your area, you need to call them and make sure they are familiar with the type of vessel you are purchasing. Call the surveyor and tell him what you are looking at. If he has never surveyed a boat like the one you are looking at, then look for a surveyor that has. I’m not suggesting that this is not a good surveyor, but nothing is better than experience and this applies here as well. You might have the best rocket scientist in the world, but that doesn’t qualify him to assess the condition of a submarine.
Lastly, make sure the surveyor is someone you can trust. At the end of the day the surveyor does not work for the seller or the broker, he works for you. You are his employer and you need to know that you can trust him to have your best interest at heart.