Can seller just allow contract to expire?

Discussion in 'Ask the Broker' started by Grec, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    Let me apologize in advance for the length of this post. I tried to be brief, but I think that most of the details I included are important in order to completely understand the situation.

    Last fall, we sold our 260 Weekender and had been looking for an early 2000's 310 Sundancer without a lot of success. Then, in early December, we found one about 100 miles from us that appeared to be in great condition with newly replaced engines; but it was for sale by owner (Paul). It had already been hauled and winterized, but Paul said that he'd be open to a sea trial (weather permitting) if we'd be willing to pay to have it launched, hauled, and re-winterized after the sea trial. Paul said that he was looking to downsize to a smaller center console and that if he could sell the Sundancer in the winter it would enable him to shop for one throughout the winter or in the very early spring.

    We drove up to see the boat and found it to be in excellent condition. I was concerned about getting a contract in place, so I tried to contact a number of local brokers to see if there was a way to get them involved in the transaction. But I kept getting voicemails - 3 out of 4 of which had full mailboxes. None of them ever responded.

    To move the process along, Paul and I agreed to use a broker's contract that I had from a previous boat transaction. We changed the names, dates, and boat information and updated some other references. I paid a deposit and we signed the contract on 12/26/20, with an expiration date of 3/25/21.

    I hired a local surveyor that I trusted and who was willing to drive the 100 miles to do the survey if the weather broke. We got a weather window during the second week of January. I had contracted COVID and would not be able to attend the survey, but I had already seen the boat and was willing to accept the results from this surveyor.

    The survey listed only some minor issues that I was already aware of, and included a video of the boat running at cruising speed - all good. But here is where it gets sticky.

    This is a US documented boat, and according to the surveyor's search, the documentation had not been updated to reflect the current boat's name or hailing port. It still listed the information from the previous owner. Apparently, Paul had just bought the bought with a bill of sale scribbled on a piece of paper and never followed up with changing the documentation. Obviously, I didn't want to pay for the boat without the proper documentation, so after discussing this issue with him, he contracted with a marine documentation company, who would get all the documents updated and prepare a bill of sale.

    When I checked the listing three weeks ago, it had been updated to reflect the current name of the boat and hailing port, and it said that the record was last updated on 2/3/21. At that point, I contracted with a local documentation company to do the lien search in preparation for updating the documentation when our purchase was complete. I also called my marina to renew my slip rental.

    When I checked with Paul last week however, he said that he has not received any of the documents yet and that the documentation company told him all he can do is wait. He mentioned that he had already paid for a slip rental for 2021 in expectation of having his center console, but that he wasn't able to buy the center console until we paid him for the Sundancer. He then suggested that if the documentation doesn't come through soon, he might want to just keep the Sundancer one more season rather than lose the amount he paid for a slip.

    I have no way of knowing whether he has received the documentation or not, but if he has determined that he'd rather not sell the boat at this point, and chooses to just let the contract run out on 3/25, it would leave me out about $800 for a survey, along with additional costs for the title search, hauling, etc.

    So my questions are:
    • Can he just let the contract expire and walk away?
    • Is there any action I can take to prevent it?
    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. PlayDate

    PlayDate Well-Known Member

    Dec 25, 2006
    Washington DC
    1994 370 Express Cruiser
    454 Mercruisers
    It depends on the Agreement you both signed. You mentioned it was for a previous boat transaction. The General Terms and Conditions should have stipulated a clear title and termination clauses.


    The $800 you spent is just a drop in the bucket. This guy has not been straight with the USCG or you in this transaction. The process of updating the records is pretty simple so it makes me wonder why he would not have done it sooner. Most marinas have an out clause which means that you don't lose the entire amount if they are able re-lease it.

    It is up to you.....but either he agrees to a written extension or find another boat.
     
  3. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    The terms do stipulate that the seller has to have a clear title and "legal authority to execute and perform this agreement", but I guess enforcing any of this is the issue. I honestly don't think he was trying to pull anything off. I think he was clueless until the issue was raised in the survey.

    I'd gladly have walked away from the survey and other associated costs if it was due to a problem with the boat. But I guess I don't feel like I should have to take the hit just because he didn't have his ducks in a row related to the title.

    I was planning to ask for an extension, but was curious about any leverage I might have if he didn't agree.
     
    Chris-380 likes this.
  4. Chip S

    Chip S Active Member

    316
    Jun 17, 2019
    Bordentown, NJ
    1993 Sea Ray 200 Overnighter
    1993 Mercury 150 hp Black Max Outboard
    I don't know about any leverage, but asking for an extension is a reasonable request since the delay is on his part. In a situation like this I always document everything. Try to interact through email if possible. $800 may not be worth getting a lawyer involved, but if he refuses to issue an extension and keeps the boat I would definitely discuss the $800 with him. If he refuses it might be worth seeing what your legal options are, which is why you need to document everything now.
     
    villain style likes this.
  5. b_arrington

    b_arrington Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    Back Cove 37
    AB Ventus 9VL
    Cummins QSC 8.3 600
    The USCG documentation center is very backed up. It took 7 months to get the official document. In the mean time, I had a temp document letter that was a legal document they showed the vessel document process was in progress. I just checked now in my current boat; paperwork was submitted in November and the online search shows it was updated last week.

    You really can’t rush the USCG. But, if you have evidence of the documentation being updated online it’s been officially recorded. Seems like you might be able to take a bet.
     
    Tripsdad likes this.
  6. Juliery

    Juliery Active Member

    185
    Sep 26, 2020
    Comox, B.C.
    1993 Sea Ray 290 Sundancer
    Galvanized triple axle Road Runner trailer
    7.4 Mercruiser w/ Bravo 2
    I agree ^^^. If it was me, with a boat I really liked and a good survey, I would increase the deposit if he will agree to that, with the sale pending the updated documentation. Get your boat.
     
  7. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    IL
    281
    V8
    My response is based on the form contracts I am familiar with. The contract expiration date is set at 3/25. You have cleared your contingency of survey and sea trial. I assume you sent a written acceptance of the survey and sea trial results. The ball is in his court, so to speak. He’s obligated to provide good title. You have the right to cancel or extend if he doesn’t clear his docs by the expiration date. I don’t believe he has the same right because you have fulfilled your obligations. In other words, he can’t run out the clock. Theoretically you could sue for specific performance. Good luck.
     
  8. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    Thanks for the responses. I especially appreciate you bringing up the written acceptance. I didn't send anything in writing. I just called in January and told him we were good to go, fully expecting that we'd meet sometime in the following few weeks to pay him his balance and get the bill of sale.

    I will clean up that loose end immediately.
     
  9. northern

    northern Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Anacortes Washington
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 Charts Timezero radar Furuno
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    When we bought our boat in the US there documents to prove the boat is free and clear of all encumbrances. It cost money to get done. I have no idea what is required but a lawyer experienced in boat sales might be a good idea. You do not want to find out the boat is stolen or not paid for after you receive it.
     
    villain style likes this.
  10. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    I've already contracted for the lien check with a documentation company, but thanks for the heads-up.
     
  11. Strecker25

    Strecker25 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 20, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    2002 410DA
    Caterpillar 350HP 3126
    FYI, there is a way to accelerate the process with the USCG. If you email them they will reply with a priority request form. They may or may not do it based on circumstances but I was planning on taking a loan on our boat and would have needed documentation completed to do so, and the CG said that was a valid reason.

    I didn’t follow through because we didn’t put a lien on the boat, but the process does exist
     
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  12. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    I'll definitely look into that. It appears that they've already done everything except mail the certificates back. Do you happen to know where you would send that email? I found a lot of forms on their site, but I didn't find any email links for this type of thing.
     
  13. Strecker25

    Strecker25 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 20, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    2002 410DA
    Caterpillar 350HP 3126
    The webmaster is a monitored inbox you can ask questions: NVDC.W.Webmaster@uscg.mil

    But, I can do you one better. Attached is the form for priority and here is the email address you send it to: nvdc.pdf.filing@uscg.mil
     

    Attached Files:

    PlayDate, b_arrington and Chris-380 like this.
  14. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    Excellent! Thank you
     
    Strecker25 likes this.
  15. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    I thought it would be helpful to post an update on this.

    The buyer was not willing to extend the contract. He said that he had originally planned to buy a boat over the winter, but it would be hard for him to find another boat if this extended beyond 3/25. So he wanted to let the contract expire if his paperwork didn't come in and just keep the boat for another season. There would be no way for me to know whether he actually received the paperwork before the expiration date, so this left the entire direction of the deal in his hands. My guess was that he had decided that since he hadn't yet found the boat he wanted, he'd rather keep this boat for another season. I'll spare you the subsequent email exchanges, but suffice it to say that they became less than pleasant. He felt absolutely no responsibility for letting the P&S agreement expire, despite being the cause of the delay.

    But this afternoon I received a call from the local documentation company who I had hired to perform the lien search. The lady there said that the search came up clean and all records with the USCG were now correct and in order. When I explained the situation to her, she said that there was no need to wait for Paul to receive the paperwork. She had everything she needed to generate a bill of sale and could do so within 24 hours - with or without any paperwork from Paul.

    I contacted Paul to let him know what I had been told and to tell him that the bill of sale would be complete and ready for him to sign within a couple of days. Given that we are still well within the terms of the contract, he agreed to move forward.

    Hopefully, this is the end of this saga. I don't think I'll ever buy another boat without having a broker involved.
     
    tdschafer, wyrman and PlayDate like this.
  16. Todd320

    Todd320 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    A tentative congratulations! My belief is the worst days of your life are buying a boat (I did not like my boat buying experience) and the second worst days are selling and getting out of boating. The best days, are boat ownership and spending time with the family on the water, the expenses are just the price we pay for something that is priceless... anyway, good luck and I hope it all works out!
     
    PlayDate likes this.
  17. Pirate Lady

    Pirate Lady Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2020
    Chesapeake, Middle River
    91 250 Sundancer, gorgeous, no you can’t buy it.
    454 Bravo 1.
    1000 times THIS!!! Buying current boat was a nightmare, broker tried after sell charges, sent him letter copied lawyer, never heard from that prick again, but we love the boat, and the money I have and will spend this year to restore to like new condition is worth the times we have. I love it, finest early 90’s 250 on the east coast and nobody can believe its 30 years old, makes me proud.
     
  18. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    Our current boat (well it's sold now, but it's still in my yard) is an '85 Weekender. Same thing. When people would ask th year and I'd tell people that it's 35 years old, they wouldn't believe it. Mine was a fixer-upper when I got it too - with lots of teak to maintain. The previous owner had let all the teak go to hell, and wasn't exactly big on using wax. But it cleaned up very nicely. Once you get it up to your standards, you just have to keep up with it.

    We had over 15 years of good use out of it.
     
  19. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2003 420DA, 6CTAs
    NA
    We have bought 3-SRs over the past 9 years and each has been a fun and rewarding experience. I love the hunt!

    Bennett
     
    copb8tx likes this.
  20. Grec

    Grec Member GOLD Sponsor

    47
    Sep 20, 2020
    Warwick, RI
    2001 310 Sundancer
    Twin Horizon 357 Inboards (repowered in 2017)
    I generally enjoy the hunt too. I like seeing what's out there and determining which features are important to us. But this last hunt resulted in two boats that appeared to be in great shape, only to fail a sea trial before the survey, and a third boat that checked out fine, but had a seller who started to back out after more than a month of delays (by him) after everything was agreed to.
     

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