Buying Used Boats in the Spring

If you are in the market for a used boat, spring is one of the best times of the year to buy a boat

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As soon as the shrink wrap and blue boat tarps begin to get pulled off the boats in the yard, get ready to look for your next boat.

If you are truly in the market for a used boat – either an upgrade from an existing boat or buying a first boat – you have probably been spending most of the winter looking at boat listings online. Perusing the online boat listing web sites is a great way to narrow down your preferences on size, model, year and price.

Having a good idea of what kind of boat you are looking for will help you get into another boat faster. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time driving from marina to marina looking at boats. Next thing you know it will be mid-summer and you will miss most of the boating season before you get your next boat… or give up for the season. (trust me, it happened to us two years in a row looking for our next boat).

There’s still time to do your homework. In addition to checking out boats online for availability and features, you should try to figure out what the best price is for the boat you are considering to buy. There is a lot of wiggle room with asking prices these days. In addition to market value, you should know the residual value of the boat based on the year, model and options.

To check out the boat’s value, check out NADA (now owned by JD Power) for estimates on value. This site is like a blue book for boats and will give you a good idea of the true value of the boat (which is not necessarily the asking price), and helpful when making an offer to buy a boat and trying to negotiate on price.

Remember when you are buying a used boat in the spring, the owner is typically trying to either get out of boating or get into another boat before the boating season starts. In other words, they are anxious to negotiate and may be willing to give up price to save on the expense of another boating season with the boat (payments, slip rental, maintenance, etc.).

You can also try to ask for extras when buying a boat in the spring. Sellers or dealers are sometimes willing to throw in free bottom painting, slip rentals or other maintenance to help close the deal.

And if you don’t find that next boat in the spring, you’ll always get a second chance to buy a boat in the fall!

Post your comments please! Buying a boat this year? What’s your game plan?

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.


  1. ChrisMay 12, 2010

    Nathalie: Now that you mentioned it, my friends are also telling me to look for a CE mark logo in purchasing a used boats. That way, things would be simpler.

  2. NathalieApril 19, 2010

    This is a timely post for me as I am currently looking for a fishing boat that has light on the pocket but heavy on the sea. I’m eyeing at European boats with a CE mark logo and get it modified here. Guess I don’t need to rush in buying one.

  3. AnonymousMarch 25, 2010

    This NADA guide is good because I have no idea if dealers are asking too much. I also heard its a buyers market right now and can offer a lot less than the asking price. That’s what we plan to do!

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