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Top 6 Things to Look Out for When Buying a Boat

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Congratulations, you are a first-time boat buyer! This process can be just as, if not more, intimidating than purchasing a car, especially if you do not have much boating knowledge. Learning about the differences and intricacies of each type of boat can be overwhelming, which is why the most important step of your boat purchase is this: carefully think through all of your wants and needs with your new boat. Will you primarily fish, do watersports, sail? If you’re fishing, will you be in saltwater or freshwater? On what kinds of fish will you focus?

Each boat you look at is made for a specific type of activities, and you want to ensure the boat you purchase will be the right fit for you, your family and your friends. Read on to learn what you should look out for when buying a boat as a first-time boat buyer.

  1. Decide if you want a new or pre-owned boat. There is no wrong answer to this question and is solely based on your personal needs, budget and preferences. 

Benefits of a new boat

  • Like any new vehicle, there is no history to uncover during and after your purchase. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the previous owner conducted regular maintenance, properly winterized it and, overall, took care of it while they used it.
  • You can buy exactly what you want. You have more options because you are not dependent on and limited to what the pre-owned market has to offer. Buying new also ensures you’re operating the latest and, hopefully, safest technology.
  • Buying new means you have the manufacturer’s warranty, should anything go wrong. That peace of mind is invaluable to some people, and a warranty should be a big consideration in any vehicle purchase. 

Benefits of a pre-owned boat

  • You can get more boat for less money. Purchasing a boat that’s a few years old allows you to get a few more bells and whistles than you would be able if your boat were brand new.
  • Hopefully, any initial bugs with the boat, motor or other systems in it would have already surfaced and been taken care of by the previous owner, so you don’t have to. For peace of mind, get a marine survey. Marine surveyors are likely more knowledgeable about boats than you and will be able to see things you might not.
  • You choose the style of sale. A dealer with a good reputation will help you through your whole purchase process but with a higher overhead. An independent broker has lower overhead costs. An independent, private seller is probably the most motivated to make a sale and might offer the best deal but may not offer the most dependability. 

  1. Make sure the boat is NMMA Certified. Ask your dealer if it’s certified, look for the NMMA Certified logo on the plates and research boat lots to find the certified vessels. NMMA Certification covers over 30 categories of boat standards, such as fuel systems, ventilation, weight capacity and more to ensure the boat’s safety. 

  1. Determine how much boat you can afford. Use a loan calculator to input your current income, bills and other debts to determine the price you can afford to pay for your boat. 

  1. Shop around. Look for reputable dealers and various models to figure out which best meets your needs. Learn how to negotiate your price to ensure you are getting the right boat for you at the best price. Don’t be pressured into buying something outside of your means.

  1. Conduct a sea trial and marine survey. Doing a test run should be an essential step in buying your boat. Creating a “real-life” environment and testing performance targets help you get a feel for the boat and let you know if anything is wrong with it before you buy. Also important is hiring a marine surveyor, as they have more extensive knowledge of how the boat should operate in specific conditions. Doing these things will help keep you, your family and your friends safe on the water. 

  1. Once you have found the boat that meets both your needs and your budget, all that is left is to close the deal! Line up your registration and insurance, and learn about any tax implications of purchasing your boat. 

This is not an all-inclusive list but covers the basics of your boat purchase. The most important thing is getting the boat you want for you, your family and your friends to enjoy together, at a price you can afford. Figure out what activities you will use your boat for, find a reputable dealer, conduct a safety check and you’re done! When you finally purchase your boat, keep DOMO Online in mind for all of your fuel and maintenance product needs.