Smart buyers know that the end of the boating season can be the best time to buy a boat. New boat dealers don’t want to carry inventory through the winter, and if you want to order a new boat this is the time to place an order for late spring delivery. Dealers may have deals on “leftover” boats in the fall and, with showroom traffic winding down, a dealer’s willingness to haggle may be increased. Private sellers face the cost of winter service and storage if they don’t sell in the fall. With that in mind, here are some boat-buying tips to keep in mind:
• Quality of a boat’s build is the most important consideration. A well-built boat will hold its value better and give you far fewer problems over the long run. Don’t try to get the largest vessel that your budget will allow. Better to take a step down in size and a step up in quality.
• If size really matters, consider used versus new as a means of staying within your budget. A used boat has already depreciated in value and probably has had many of improvements made and kinks worked out – making it easier to afford and own. A two-year-old boat, particularly one that has only run in fresh water, can offer tremendous savings and value.
• When calculating what you can afford to buy, consider the full cost of ownership, including depreciation, interest, insurance, dockage, fuel and repairs. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that buying the boat is the most expensive part of boat ownership. As a rule of thumb, assume that you’ll spend about 10-15% of the value of the boat in annual costs, excluding financing costs.
• Once you’ve narrowed your search to several possibilities, wander down to your local boat yard to see how the products of those builders hold up over the years. Stop in and chat with the service manager. Let him or her know that you’re considering the purchase and see what they have to say. You can also get good input from boater forums like www.thehulltruth.com.
• If you’ve decided upon a used boat, a survey by a qualified surveyor is a must. Again, consider asking the boatyard service manager for a suggestion. He or she has seen and worked with them all and is qualified to give you professional advice.