Boat Buyer's Guide:
Deposits & Trade-Ins
Most brokers and dealers require a 10% cash payment on a new boat but a nominal deposit is enough to get the dealer to write a contract. Often, the deposit is placed in an escrow account, but this is less common with private party sales.
The seller may have a right to keep all or a portion of the deposit if the buyer backs out of the deal without cause. As a buyer, you should include as many contingencies as necessary to protect your interests, including satisfactory survey and sea trial, clear title, and ability to obtain financing and insurance. On new boats, a written delivery date is crucial.
Dealers are often willing to apply the value of trade-in boats against the cost of a new boat, but be aware that you will probably not get top dollar on the price, since dealers stick close to the maxim "buy low, sell high." In addition, dealers may scrutinize your old boat far more critically than a private buyer, since part of their profit margin will be based on how easy a trade-in boat is to sell.
With this in mind, have your boat in top condition when you bring it to the dealer.
In some states, a benefit of a trade-in arrangement is that you pay sales tax only on the price of the new boat, less the amount of the trade-in. Check with your state's boat registration agency.