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, pick up a copy of the NADA Marine Appraisal Guide (the one linked here is for boats from 7 Feet – 75 Feet in Length 16 Years of Values 1993 – 2008 January Through April 2008). This 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). The book is good to have on hand 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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