Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales - Unprofessional and Unethical. How to choose the right broker.


I have owned 9 boats and dealt with many brokers over those 40 years.  Never have I experienced a broker as unethical and unprofessional as Jeff Merrill.  I chose Jeff Merrill because he was involved with the sale of my Nordhavn 55.  He worked for Nordhavn / PAE at the time.  He left there to open his own brokerage - Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales, Inc.  I did not realize that all of his ethics and professionalism would go out the window as he pursued his philosophy of expanding his new brokerage at any cost.  He failed miserably at selling my Diesel Duck.  A parade of unqualified dreamer people.  A compete waste of my time and money.  He does not believe in prequalifying people and verifying that they are legitimate buyers.  He wants to keep every person who approaches him and wants to see a boat happy because someday in the far future they might be a client.  In keeping these people happy he promotes his business at the expense of completely wasting the seller's time.  Getting ready for a proper showing takes time.  In addition, you would think that with a 10% commission at stake that Jeff Merrill would cover the marketing costs.  In my case, an over $70 thousand dollar commission!  He is cheapest broker I have ever dealt with by asking the seller to pay these costs.  His policy with regards to advertising material after he fails to sell the boat is explained below.  Unethical and unprofessional.  

How to Choose the Right Broker (and not make the mistake I did)

1.  If your boat is foreign flagged does the broker know the correct way to handle it?  Moby Duck is foreign flagged.  That means it is in the USA on a cruising permit and the import duty has not been paid.  It is the law that foreign flagged vessels in the USA are "not for sale in US waters to a US resident".  There are various interpretations of that.  The interpretation I got from the US Customs office in Hawaii when I checked into the USA after my pacific ocean crossing was that a US citizen could still look at the boat, who is interested in Diesel Ducks in general, but the sale had to take place outside of USA territorial waters.  In my case the actual sale would be either in Mexico or offshore (outside the 12 mile limit).  Jeff Merrill's interpretation was that a US citizen could not even look at the boat.  He went so far as telling potential USA citizen buyers that they could not buy it.  It is obvious this is one of the many reasons he failed to sell the boat.

2.  Does the broker have a prequalification policy or is he just going to show the boat to anyone?  To buy an ocean crossing world cruising boat like Moby Duck you need three things - good health, the money and the time to use it.  A good broker will find out what the buyer's purchase time frame is.  Many trawler brokers (Nordhavn, Selene, Krogen) have told me that the time frame from when a buyer first approaches them to buy a boat until the time they actually purchase is an average of 5 years.  In addition, a good broker will find out if the buyer actually has the money.  Many trawler buyers are waiting for a business or home to sell or are in the process of obtaining a loan that might never be approved.  You would not believe the amount of people who have the dream of motoring off into the sunset but do not have one or more of the three things I mentioned above.  In my case it has been over 100.  The good news is that they all love the boat after they have seen it.  Fulfilling their dream might be 5 years off but they will fly half way around the world to see a boat now.  I don't mind showing it to them if the timing is convenient.    

3.  Who pays for the marketing costs - print ads, internet advertising and video production etc?  You would assume that the broker does.  A 10% commission is a lot of money.  Every professional yacht broker I have ever met covers those costs.  I would verify this before choosing a broker.  The only thing that is usually negotiable is who pays if the boat is placed in a boat show.  That can be very expensive.  Again, find that out up front.  

4.  If the broker does not sell the boat what happens to the advertising material?  Does the broker have the right to use the images of your boat in what ever regard he wants without your permission?  Review the video cover page below:


 EVERY professional broker I know would never use your boat's image without the owner's permission.  I refused to renew my listing with JMYS (Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales) due to his incompetence.  In my case, unprofessional and unethical Jeff Merrill is actively interfering in the future sale of my boat.  Note the "NOT FOR SALE".  He is using the video to steer potential clients to himself at the expense of the sale of my boat with another broker.  He knows the boat is still for sale, just not with him.  I have spoken to many brokers.  ALL have said that they would never use a client's boat for advertising purposes without their permission especially if they failed in selling it.  I have expressly asked Jeff Merrill to not use my boat in his advertising and he has refused.  Also note the "78K views".  The vast majority of those people see the "NOT FOR SALE" and move on to another boat.  There had to be at least one buyer in those 78K views.  He has cost me the sale of the boat.  I have had three potential buyers tell me they saw this video and saw the "NOT FOR SALE" and moved on.  The majority of the pictures in the video are mine and I helped produce it.  It is now being used against me.  Again, find out up front who has ownership of the marketing materials.

5.  Find out how long the Broker has been in business?  Someone who is new in the business is going to handle things much differently than an established broker.  Obviously they are going to have to be more aggressive in this very competitive trawler market place.  What you need to determine is how aggressive they are going to be.  Are ethical and professional boundries going to be crossed?  The larger trawler brokerages are going to be steering potential buyers to their own much more extensive list of trawlers first.  Do you really think any of the big three Nordhavn brokerages (Nordhavn, AAA, James Knight) are sending potential Nordhavn buyers to Jeff Merrill?  Jeff Merrill actively discourages other brokers from selling his listings so he can get the whole 10% commission.  This obviously hurts the sale prospects of your boat.  Many competitive brokerages will offer another broker a 60/40 split if they bring the buyer to expedite the sale of your boat.  Jeff Merrill does not do that.  It pays to find out the broker commission split arrangement up front.      

I got screwed because I did not investigate the above issues before signing the listing agreement.  This blog post is geared to sellers, but if you are a buyer would you want someone like Jeff Merrill to represent you if he treats sellers so unethically? Do your investigating.  What makes my whole story with Jeff Merrill that much worse is with regards to the greed involved.  He knows I am battling cancer.  That is the reason I am selling the boat.  I need the money from the sale for my medical costs.  He knows that.  What type of person is that greedy that they would interfere in someone's health battle for their life?  Jeff Merrill is the type of broker you should refuse to deal with as a future buyer or seller.   





 If you would have any questions or would just like to talk Ducks feel free to contact me at mvmobyduck@gmail.com
Moby Duck in Romblon, Philippines
Moby Duck in Romblon, Philippines

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