Questions about importing from Holland to USA (while living in Holland)

This is probably a somewhat unusual situation, so I was hoping to hear any thoughts, concerns, etc. from those w/ experience in this process:

I am a student and an experienced rider who is currently studying (for a semester) in the Netherlands. I have been riding/competing in hunter/jumper divisions from a young age, have ridden with some well-known trainers, and have experience as a working student at WEF and elsewhere. With all this, I am fairly familiar with the process of looking for and purchasing a horse. I am also quite used to working with young horses - just sold one such project horse last spring.

My family has recently shown interest in looking at importing a horse from Holland while I am over here and it is convenient for me to try horses. Our budget is not huge (20-30k excepting import costs). We are looking for an investment project - or at least something to break even - hunter type, scopey enough for upper levels. In order to cut costs, it seemed reasonable to avoid working through an agent and/or with a trainer - so I have been doing my research alone, with bits of advice from fellow (Dutch) students who know the area.

We found several horses we liked well from ads posted online (European sales websites like and from there began looking through Youtube. Narrowed this down to 3 so far, contacted the owners, all are at well-known sales/boarding stables. I have tried 2 as of now, both very nice, especially liked the first - young hunter prospect who was quite easy to handle and showed a lot of talent.

These visitations were done entirely on my own besides phone contact between owners and the “financial rep” (my mother, also very experienced with horses) back home.

My main question is: Am I (are we…) completely crazy to try and do this without working directly with an agent or trainer? Is it likely we will be ripped off? These horses are in the upper end of our budget but the first in particular seems VERY worth the money, and I would be able to go out and ride him for a second time.
What other questions should I be asking these owners?
Are local references enough to trust the credibility of these sales farms?

Thanks for any advice - sorry for such a long post!