The Buying Process

Boat Sold SignThe Buying Process – from Offer to Completion

The most difficult part for most people is actually finding the boat they wish to buy! Once you have done this and have got an “Under Offer” agreement, the rest should be “plain sailing”. The procedure moves quickly and before you know it, you are the proud owner of your narrowboat.

The process which in reality is simpler than it looks when you see it all written down, will go something like this:


OFFER TO BUY We will agree the purchase price with you, on behalf of our seller. You will need to satisfy us that you will have access to funds to complete the purchase within two weeks. For example, if you are buying with proceeds from the sale of your house then you must have formally exchanged contracts with an imminent completion date agreed. For your own protection, we recommend you make your offer “subject to survey” and “subject to current BSS compliance”. We will be happy to arrange a test drive if required.
UNDER OFFER For as long as the boat is formally under offer to you and we are happy you are actively pursuing its purchase, we will not accept any other offers. We will assist in monitoring progress of any finance arrangement.
SALE AGREEMENT We will ask you to countersign a letter setting out the terms of the deal, to form the sale agreement between us.
SURVEY PAYMENT We do not normally require an initial purchase deposit. What we do ask for, as a “gesture of good faith”, is the standard cost of the dry docking and pre-purchase survey. We hold this on your behalf and use it for discharging the accounts. A 10%  deposit will be required after your survey has been carried out and before any works/repairs are commenced. The same level of deposit will be required if you are buying without a survey.
PRE-PURCHASE SURVEY Second-hand boats are sold without warranty. It is our strong recommendation you have a full pre-purchase “out of the water” survey and valuation carried out. This will be a must if your purchase is subject to marine finance. You are free to instruct any surveyor of your choosing; alternatively, we can suggest suitable surveyors with whom we have no financial relationship and who will act purely in your own interests. Always make sure your surveyor is suitably qualified and has adequate liability insurance cover. All the surveyors on our list are so qualified and insured.  We aim to have arranged the survey within 7 – 10 days and would normally expect you to complete your purchase within 1 week after you receive your surveyors report.

If you require a new Boat Safety Certificate, we can arrange this on your behalf and there will be an additional charge.

FINANCE Very few companies now offer finance for inland boat purchases but those that do may be found in waterways newspapers and magazines.
INSURANCE You also need to immediately set about arranging insurance. A good comprehensive policy needs to cover third party liability and other risks such as own damage, fire & theft and boat contents, and this needs to be in place by purchase completion.  For a no obligation on-line quote CLICK HERE
BOAT LICENCE Once you have bought your boat and before you can go cruising you will need a licence from Canal and River Trust. The cost of this depends on the length of your boat.  Boat Licenses are not transferable and on purchase of your narrowboat you will need to apply for a new one. You will need a License if you keep your boat anywhere on the Canal System, including a Marina. We shall be pleased to handle this for you but you might like to visit the licence page on C&RT’s website for further information on costs and to download an application form.
SERIOUS DEFECTS OR WANT OF REPAIR In his report your surveyor will note items requiring attention. In any used boat more than a couple of years old there are bound to be some of these and most will be minor or purely cosmetic. Generally you are “buying as seen” and you have to accept these. However, should a serious defect be discovered that affects the Boat safety or Insurance, he will separately identify these, the cost of which we will endeavour to negotiate with the owner.
COMPLETION To effect completion we prefer you to pay by bank electronic transfer to our Brokerage Client Account. Details of this account will be provided on our purchase Invoice. As soon as we have received the money the boat is legally yours and we will issue you with a receipted invoice. It may take a little while for the formal Bill of Sale to be completed by our seller; this will be your only legal proof of ownership (there is no central registry of ownership like there is for housing or cars) so look after it!

If we have agreed a mooring for you in the marina, your boat will be moved to its berth. If you are mooring elsewhere then we are happy to offer a few days’ (up to a maximum of 7 days) grace for you to collect and take her away. After this our temporary mooring charge will be applied.

Should you wish to have a blacking, the engine serviced, or some repairs or modifications/improvements carried out before you move off, then we will be pleased to quote.


BOAT HANDLING COURSES Following completion you are ready to sail away! If you are new to boating or only have limited previous experience we do recommend you have a day’s boat-handling course.

A good place to start is reading the ‘Highway Code’ of the canals: CRT’s “The Boater’s Handbook”. Click here to go to their website where you can read it on-line and find out how to get a free printed copy. You can also view a related and very informative DVD here.

For our recommendations on local instructors who will take you out on your own boat, please go to our ‘Boat Handling Courses’ page.