Boat Buyer’s Tips in a Seller’s Market

Boat Buying Tips In A Sellers Market

If you’ve been in the market for a boat recently, then you know all too well that boats of all shapes and sizes have been flying off the proverbial docks this year. Boat manufacturers across the globe have seen an unprecedented increase in demand coupled with a simultaneous decrease in supply due to multiple constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many dealers sold out of new boats with many boat models on back order. Plus the used boat market has also been flourishing, with new customers flocking to the waters as a welcome, socially distant reprieve from our current way of life that has been thrust upon us indefinitely.

All of these factors combined are great news for boat sellers. Suddenly that old 1984 Whaler collecting dust in the yard that last year we couldn’t pay someone to get rid of is magically desirable again – even with the missing prop and non existent motor tilt! In fact, the used boat market is seeing more bidding wars and sight unseen purchases than ever before. But where does that leave the buyer?

Here are some tips on how to keep your boat shopping smart, savvy and most of all successful in today’s competitive marketplace.

Decide On Your Boat Type

This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s very difficult to be a serious competitive buyer if you are all over the place with regards to what you are looking for in a boat. This type of uncertainty is palpable to the seller and also will cause you to lag in taking the necessary steps towards completing the sale – largely because you are still undecided on whether or not the boat is the right fit for you. Of course, there’s definitely some truth to the old adage “you’ll know it when you see it,” but it will save you some time to at least narrow down the genre/boat type you are dreaming of before actively pursuing a purchase. These days there are so many great resources and walk-throughs online to help you narrow down exactly what type of vessel you are searching for.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve narrowed down the specific type of boat that meets your needs (and dreams), it’s important to perform diligent research on that particular make and model, including the history of the boat’s evolution throughout the years (particularly if you are searching used) in addition to how well it retains its value and the benchmarks surrounding that value. Also take note of what the competitor models are and how those compare in value, as well as what array of features come optional with the boats and average pricing for those features. All of this knowledge will help you in assessing potential boats on the spot with confidence and ease, and will guide your decision making process from a well-informed and insightful place.

Be Realistic About Your Budget

While there’s no arguing that it’s definitely fun to walk through mega yachts in person, it can be a waste of your valuable time (and your broker’s, if you’re using one) and can potentially end up costing you relationships or boat deals in the future. It’s best to have a ballpark idea of what you can afford before you start eyeing those million dollar listings and trying to make something happen that’s not realistic for you. Plus, time freed daydreaming of the impossible will be better spent facilitating a more achievable and tangible goal, even if it is that dusty 1984 Whaler – remember – it’ll be YOUR dusty 1984 Whaler.

Explore Funding Options Beforehand

Boat shopping can be all fun and games until this step. Unless you are a cash buyer, the reality of it is – this step is hard and requires both persistence and perseverance. Boat loans typically entail a bit of a complex and hard to navigate process involving choosing a lender, shopping for the best rate, considering a cosigner (even if you are well qualified) getting surveys and more. With the current pandemic and state of the economy, lenders are being extra cautious these days. Check out our resources for help on finding the right match for you so that you can be prepared to make an offer when that special boat finds its way into your life.

Use The New Search Alerts Tool on Boat Trader

If you’re seriously interested in a particular boat class, make or model, it’s wise to use Boat Trader’s “search alerts” feature. Using this tool you can save your shopping criteria and be automatically updated each week whenever a seller lists a matching vessel that ticks all the boxes on your list. And with the advanced search filters on Boat Trader you can get very granular with the details of your boat search criteria – from the year the vessel was built to the location, length and propulsion system.

Be Responsive And Flexible

If you’re upset because a boat you were potentially interested in sold before you got the chance to see it in person, perhaps you need to make more of a conscious effort to make those viewings a priority. If the seller can only show Saturday morning and you’d rather sleep in, you’re probably going to miss out on all of the good deals. If you’d rather hit the couch with a beer than drive 40 minutes after work to check out a possible lead, then you’ll probably end up staying on the couch for the rest of the versus being out on the glorious water!

Personality DOES Count

There’s no arguing that with the transactional nature of our society, cordiality is often overlooked in very calculated processes like the purchase of a boat or home, but it does affect the people involved, even if it’s only on a subconscious level. People are genuinely more likely to work with, help, and facilitate a purchase with someone they enjoy speaking and interacting with. Plus, who knows? Your positive vibes may even earn you a discount when all is said and done.

Move Quickly And With Confidence

You’ve done your research. You’ve thought long and hard about which boat is best for you and your family. You’ve secured a lender and you know the market value of the boat you just looked at and fell in love with it. And now you’ve found the one. With everything in your arsenal to make a fair, firm offer and are an ideal buyer. Not only that, you make your offer calmly and politely, with a big smile because the possibilities are finally within your grasp! The other buyers will still be on their couches contemplating boat models, financing and logistics, and you’ll be out on the water enjoying the sunshine.

Written by: Laila Elise

Laila Elise is a former fashion model, writer, actress and entrepreneur, with an affinity for a life on the water. She has a Masters in Finance and a Bachelor's in Business Education, and has traveled extensively around the world working with top agencies and designers. She writes regularly about her passion for the sea on her blog:


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