When buying or selling a used boat, determine the best price based on marine appraisal guides and boat resale values in a local market for a boat’s age, type and condition

boat resale value

In a competitive boat market, sellers need to price a boat to sell. While some sellers price a boat aggressively low to sell a boat fast, others may be pricing a boat high to make the most on the sale. Buyers and sellers should realize that there are many factors that influence boat resale values. There can be a broad range of prices for used boats based on market appraisals and the resale book value of upgrades and options.

Knowing the right price range for boat models in a targeted geographic area helps both sellers and buyers determine the best retail sale price for a used boat on the market.



Using Marine Appraisal Guides to Determine Boat Book Value

The best sources for evaluating boat book values are marine appraisal guides like BUC, ABOS or NADA. These respected well-known sources have been trusted for appraising the retail or resale value of boats, cars, motor homes, RVs and more.

Most appraisal guides are available online and are good for estimating a boat’s book value based on year, manufacturer, model and optional features. Next to geographic location, optional features and upgrades on a boat can cause the biggest variance in price. Even though a boat may be the same year and model, the comparison may not be apples to apples. For example, on a power boat the engine type (diesel vs. gasoline, manufacturer or horsepower) can cause considerable variance in the price range for a boat.

Appraisal guides can typically be used to determine the resale book value of a variety of boats and boat accessories, such as:

  • Power boats
  • Sailboats
  • Pontoon boats
  • Personal watercrafts
  • Outboard motors
  • Boat trailers

Appraisal guides are meant to be a guide for a used boat price or book value and typically offer an acceptable range. Depreciation for each year of age on the boat is taken into consideration. As with cars, different boat manufacturers also tend to hold value better than others. These factors all influence the boat resale value and expected price on the market.

OUR PICK: My choice for a marine appraisal guide would be NADA Marine Appraisal Guide: Boats from 7 feet to 60 feet in length-Years 1998-2012 (NADA Appraisal Guides, January through April 2012) available at Amazon for less than $20.

Evaluating Boat Prices and Resale Values Online

Online boat listings are a good source to evaluate current market prices for boats. Online search tools allow a user to search for used boat by model, price range and location to quickly determine the asking prices of boats on the market. Sellers can use these tools to estimate a boat’s resale value and buyers can use the tool to evaluate the best boat prices on the market.

Boat prices listed online do not necessarily translate to the actual appraised boat value. Sellers and buyers should use tools such as competitive market information and boat appraisal guides to determine what should be the true boat retail value.

Be sure to study all the potential differences in prices listed online. Mechanical and cosmetic upgrades on a boat will influence the boat resale value.

The appraised value of a boat can be greatly influenced by upgrades or special options included with the boat such as:

  • New engine parts
  • Electronic packages
  • Radar or satellite systems
  • Dinghy or dinghy lifts
  • New cockpit carpet
  • New bimini or canvas tops

Sellers should not expect a higher price for a boat based on personal upgrades or updates that are meant to maintain the value of a boat. Upgrades are often necessary to sell a boat in a competitive market.

Determining the Best Price for a Used Boat

The final retail price paid for a used boat may represent some negotiating skill on behalf of the buyer. In a buyers market there is always room for boat price negotiation. Sellers expect that purchase prices offered for used boats will come in lower than the asking price and typically price boats 10-15% higher to leave room for negotiation. Marine lenders also expect the boat price to be within a reasonable range of the appraised value when approving buyers for boat loan financing on a used boat.

The final retail price for buying or selling a boat is often determined by local market conditions and competition. When the deal is done, the best resale value of the boat is the price that the buyer is able to negotiate from the seller.

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Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of MyBoatLife.com as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids BoaterKids.com. She is also active in the boating industry, serving as the marketing director for a marine sunshade product, SureShade, and founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.

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