Buying a Boat? Start With a Cash Price

cash price
In opening talks with a dealer, it’s a good idea to establish a cash price before discussing trade-ins and credit.

Many of the used models you’ll find for sale on are offered by dealers, and that’s a good thing because there are pluses to buying from a dealer over buying from a private owner. If you prefer to buy from a dealer, here are a few tips that can help you get the best deal on a used boat. (Oh, and I got these tips from a dealer who does a lot of transactions on used boats, so this is sage advice.)

Even if you plan to finance your purchase or trade in your current boat, make your approach as a cash buyer with no trade-in. Why? That lets you focus on negotiating the best price. If you involve financing in the talk about price, things can get a bit nebulous — for both parties. Pretty soon, the conversation involves a price that goes up with low interest rates and interest rates that go up with when the price comes down. Also, if you mention a trade-in too early in the conversation, it can get very confusing. Save it for later in the discussion. The same logic applies on a used car lot, too, by the way.

Once you have settled on a price, then ask about interest rates. There is less wiggle room here because your credit score, among other factors, is what drives the interest rate you can get. Realize the cost of borrowing is low these days, so if the dealer isn’t flexible enough on financing, you might benefit from seeking financing through your bank or your credit union.

Once you are satisfied with price and interest rates, then you can talk about a trade-in. Now that the price of the new boat and the interest rate you’ll pay on the new loan are settled, all you are left with is establishing the value of your trade. There are no other factors to muddy the deal. The other factors have been settled.

In a nutshell, what you’re doing is isolating each step of the purchasing process. That allows you to focus on one thing at a time, and enables you to do your best at each step. Like multitasking, if you try to accomplish all three at once, you end up not doing any of them very well. And that’s not a good thing.

Brett Becker


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