Ten things you should check before buying a boat ...

1. Make sure you are satisfied the boat will meet your needs before you part with a deposit. Provided the survey finds no significant material fault, the onus will be on you to complete the sale.

2. Reputable brokers will provide you with a sales and purchase agreement. This should set a reasonable period for you to complete the survey and set out the conditions under which your deposit will be returned, less haul out charges, if you decide to withdraw from the sale.

3. If a private seller asks for a deposit, you should make the same agreement with them. You want the exclusive right to survey the boat and decide whether to buy it within a reasonable time. This also applies if the seller asks you to pay the haul out charge instead.

4. The seller must make the boat accessible for the survey. If it is packed full of equipment and belongings when you first see it, insist this is cleared before the survey.

6. A seller should not use the boat once it has been surveyed. Whatever is onboard (other than personal belongings) when it is surveyed should be included in the sale unless otherwise agreed.

7. If you are buying privately the seller should prove to you that they have 'title' to the boat. Ask to see previous bills of sale and receipts dating as far back as possible. A Sales and Purchase agreement will give you some protection (call for an example).

8. You have the right to place reasonable conditions on your offer. These can include for instance a sea trial, a compression check by a marine engineer or a rig inspection. On an older wooden boat, you can ask for the dismantling of internal linings that prevent access or for keel bolts to be withdrawn and inspected. A surveyor will advise what is reasonable and necessary.

8. You can withdraw from a sale or renegotiate the price if the survey shows up significant material defects ­ e.g. damage to the hull, systems or rig. Wear and tear to consumables items such as ropes, batteries or soft furnishings tend not to count unless they are extensive and were not obvious originally.

9. If the seller offers to make good defects, agree exactly what will be done and inspect the work before completing the sale.

10. An accredited YDSA surveyor will have an extensive background in the marine industry, carry full professional indemnity insurance, be regularly assessed and carry out a programme of continuing professional development. You will get a full survey report which has to meet high standards. You will get a realistic appraisal which puts you in the best possible position to decide on your purchase.

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