Boat Buyer's Guide:
Boat Show "Specials"
Boat shows are great places to find low prices, but show "specials" may be no bargain if the dealer doesn't maintain a service shop or is located hundreds of miles away when repairs are needed. Try getting a good deal on a new boat after the boat show season, but also look for good deals on new "leftover" models sitting unsold on dealers' lots from previous years.
The Profit Margin
When it comes to bargaining, keep in mind that, although mark-up rates vary according to dealer volume, commissions on new boats are generally 10-20% over factory cost. After-market equipment installed by the dealer is marked up roughly 40% and labor about 25%. The going dealer commission rate on used boats is 10%, so buying directly from an owner can reduce costs.
How Do You Know It's Fair Price?
BUC, NADA and ABOS used-boat price guides found at libraries, in dealer showrooms and marine stores give high and low retail prices for each model year. In addition, they give price adjustments for physical condition, engine options, and geographical location. But, classified ads may be better indicators of boat prices in your area. Monitor prices over a one- or two-month period to get an accurate picture. Finally, have your boat inspected before purchase. A marine surveyor will give a valuation as part of a written report.
Fill out our Value Check form and receive your free email estimate of the fair market value of your current boat, or another used boat you're interested in buying.
The Cost of Owning A Boat
Your boat's price tag and the interest on your boat loan, if you have one, are foreseeable, obvious costs of ownership. It's the not-so-obvious costs, however, that can take the wind out of your sails if you have not budgeted for them. These include one-time fees (such as sales tax) or recurring fees, like storage, personal property taxes, slip rental, maintenance and insurance.
Keep in mind that the yearly cost of operating, maintaining and repairing or replacing equipment averages could cost as much as 10% of your boat's value. Age, use (racing, rather than day-trips, for example), hull material, and quality of construction all affect annual expenses.