1. Do research
Of course, you could buy the first boat you see, which may take as little as a day. A better course of action is to research the marketplace. This is your opportunity to look at boats that fit your lifestyle as well as theirprices, features, and customer reviews. Research is a great tool to educate yourself on the inventory and how that aligns with your budget.
2. Get approved for a loan if you plan on financing
It may only take a few days to obtain approval for a loan, but you should spend time researching different lenders to find the best possible deal. Interest rates, interest rates, interest rates! A game changer when it comes to a loan.
3. Make a list of wants and needs
This is the fun part where you ask yourself, what do I want? What are your must-haves? What are your dealbreakers? What are you willing to compromise on? There are countless types of boats with countless features. Get a general idea of what you want in this purchase.
4. Start Browsing
1 week – 3 months
Now it’s time to get out there and start looking. The timing aspect of this part in the process can vary. You might find several boats you love right away or it may take a little bit longer to find the ideal boat. The most efficient way to browse is at a boat show or online.
At this point in the process, you know what you want, you’ve done your research, and hopefully know what the boat is worth. Keep in mind – any dealer is trying to make a sale at the highest price point and as quickly as possible. Keep your interests ahead of anything else. For example, if they are not flexible in the asking price, try to negotiate on another front, like the warranty. Ask the dealer these important questions:
- What features are accessible for this specific make and model?
- What warranties are available? What are you offering in the warranty for the engine, hull, components, accessories, and service? (This should be one of the most important factors when making your decision as it will impact your long-term investment in the boat)
- Is the warranty transferrable?
- If something goes wrong, what kind of service do you provide?
- Ask if a marine survey has been performed on the boat prior to the purchase.
- Ask for references.
- Ask to test drive the boat at a later date.
- Ask if the dealer is Marine Industry Certified.
Don’t make any rash decisions. Digest all the information. Compare warranties with price and features. Rank your top choices and make the decision from there.
Before finalizing the purchase, you may want to request a survey to determine whether there are any unexpected surprises hiding in your new boat. This is of the utmost importance as a boat is larger and more expensive. You want to be positive you are buying a reliable boat from a trustworthy dealer. First, do a walkthrough of the boat and see if you can spot anything out yourself. Once the boat has passed your own inspection, you may want to hire a professional to do the survey.
The hard stuff is over. You are now ready to close on your new boat!