The Do's & Don'ts of Buying A Boat

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The Do's & Don'ts of Buying A Boat

Buying a new boat is an exciting occasion and can be a very big day for anyone whether it's your first or just one of many experiences. There are a few tips you should follow when embarking on the journey of buying a new boat.

February 12, 2024
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Bryan Greenwood
Regional Sales Manager - Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West

Buying a boat is an exciting occasion for any boater. Whether you are a new boater or seasoned captain it can also be a daunting experience. As a consumer you have many decisions to make when it comes to finding the perfect boat for your intended use. As we progress through Winter there are Boat Shows taking place across the county as well as dealers always ready for a visitor. These are a great opportunity for buyers to identify and purchase a boat for the coming season. Shows, while a great way to see many products in one place, can also be overwhelming for someone without a boat buying plan. However, spending some time preparing before shopping your local dealership or attending your local show, can make purchasing your new boat a much easier and more informed process. Below you will find a list of some Do’s and Don’ts that will help you get prepared for your pursuit of the perfect model as well as getting yourself prepared to use that new boat.

Do : Know How You Will Use Your Boat

Understanding how you plan to use your future boat is one of the most important questions to ask yourself before starting the buying process. There are many great boat brands in the industry tailored to different intended applications. Spending some time thinking about how you truly plan on using your boat will help you narrow down which style of boats to focus on. Ask yourself whether you plan to fish, go tubing, or just cruise? Who will be with you on the water and how many people do you need to accommodate?

If you are new to boating, you may not know the answers to some or all of these questions. That’s ok! By asking yourself these questions ahead of time it will help you narrow in on the right answers. You don’t need to know exactly what you are looking for and that’s why you are going through the buying process. Knowing answers to just some of these types of questions will still help you. The boating community is also a very friendly space, and most boaters will be happy to give you their insight. Feel free to ask friends and family for their opinions to aid in your search.

Don’t: Skip Boat Safety Education

Boating safety education is one of the most important things a new boater should familiarize themselves with. No matter what type of body of water you are boating on requires an understanding of boating rules and regulations. Larger bodies of water require a knowledge of navigation guidelines. Luckily there are many options available to start this training whether online or in person. By completing this education, you will make your first day’s on the water a much more enjoyable experience

Do: Attend Your Local Boat Show

As I mentioned earlier over the next few months boat shows will be taking place across the nation. If you are in a boating locale there is a good chance of a boat show taking place nearby. While they can indeed be daunting they are also the best way to see as many boats as possible in one spot. It is also a great time to meet your local dealer and start the relationship with them. So attend your local show, crawl on the boats, and most importantly ask questions! Going in with a plan of what you are looking for can help navigate the sometimes overwhelming amount of choices.

Don’t: Forget About The Dealer

The dealer you are buying your boat from is an important part of your process. This will be the dealer you need to work with throughout your ownership. Finding a dealer who has as strong service reputation is as important as finding the lowest price on your boat. While boats are usually very reliable, they do have issues just like your car. Having a relationship with a dealer local to you will be worth its weight the first time you have an issue. If you don’t already have a relationship with a local dealer, you should do some research on the dealers in your market. Fellow boaters will be happy to lend your opinion and online reviews are plentiful. Look for dealers who promote their CSI scores or the certifications of their techs. A well oiled service department is a boat owners best friend.

Do: Get Pre-Approved For A Loan

Understanding your monthly boat budget is important in making sure you are looking at the right boats. Prior to commencing the buying process I would recommend talking to lenders and understanding your budget. In many cases you can get pre-approved for a maximum loan amount. You do not have to use this loan for your boat, and I would recommend seeing what options are available through the dealer you decide to work with. There are many finance options available through your dealer but having an idea ahead of time will ensure you focus on the right boat. This will also allow the salesman you are working with to lead you to the correct models that fit within your budget.

Don’t: Forget The Full Cost of Boat Ownership

Having your loan amount figured out is a great step in the process but it is not the last financial budget you should make. The cost of boat ownership goes beyond your monthly payment. Understanding the cost of things like insurance, gas, and yearly maintenance fees are important. If you plan on keeping your boat at a marina you will need to know the cost of slips as well as winter storage if going that route.

Do: Research

There are endless opportunities to perform your own research. Whether you want to know more about how people use their boat or about a brand there is a website or YouTube site for you to browse. Many brands invest heavily in the resources available through their website or social media platforms. By reading articles or watching videos you can become a very informed buyer. For example, if you wanted to know how a Sportsman boat was built you could watch the Behind the Glass Series, Season 1 they produced. Through these episodes you can see their entire build process and get a feel for the company. Remember that boats are built differently and understanding how yours comes together will give you peace of mind in the boat you decide on. If a brand doesn’t readily show their build process you may want to question how their boat is constructed.

Do: Consider Resale Value

This may not seem like the most likely item on your agenda but understanding how the value of the brand you are looking at depreciates over time is important. Not all brands are equal, and some are going to hold their value more than others. Knowing this ahead of time can help you decide on a brand that will get you a higher trade in amount down the road when ready to upgrade.

Don’t: Buy Solely on Looks

We all want to have a product we are proud of and that looks cool. But don’t make your decision solely on how a boat looks. It is important to know the ins and outs of a boat beyond just its looks to make an informed decision. Don’t get me wrong, looks are very important, but they shouldn’t overshadow understanding things like construction or wiring methods in your overall decision.

Do: Have Fun!

The buying journey doesn’t have to be entirely stressful. Make sure to have some fun with the process. Include your family and friends and enjoy it! Boating is meant to be fun and you are buying a product that will lead to joy and memories. By following some of the suggestions above you can make it an easy and stress-free experience. See you on the water!