How to Buy a Boat (New or Used) in 2024: An In-Depth Guide
To buy a boat in 2024, start by setting a realistic budget, considering both the purchase price and the total cost of ownership, including storage, insurance, and maintenance. Determine how you’ll use the boat most of the time to decide on the style and propulsion system that best suits your needs. Decide between new and used based on your budget and how much you’ll use the boat. Research different brands and models to find the best quality and value within your budget. Before purchasing, inspect the boat thoroughly, negotiate the price, and conduct a sea trial. Finally, ensure all paperwork is accurate and complete. Before you write that check inspect it, whether it’s new or used, to ensure years of enjoyable boating ahead.
Buying a boat in 2024 has its unique set of challenges and opportunities. During the pandemic, buying a boat got a little weird… prices were going through the roof. But now, “we’re in more of a buyer’s market,” which means potential boat owners have a lot more control and leverage in the transaction.
Setting Your Budget
The first step in your boat-buying journey is to set a realistic budget. Remember, “boats that 15 years ago were $50,000 are still selling for like forty-five thousand.” The market has changed, and it’s essential to account for the all-in cost of boat ownership, which includes storage, insurance, maintenance, fuel, and gear.
Understanding Your Usage
Next, you need to determine how you will use the boat 80% of the time. This understanding will guide you in choosing the right boat style and propulsion system. Whether it’s an outboard, stern drive, jet drive, or inboard, the choice should align with your primary activities on the water.
New vs. Used
Deciding between a new or used boat is a significant decision. Consider whether your budget aligns with your “fun money activity.” Some may have the resources but opt for a used boat because “we’re not going to use $150,000 that much.”
Choosing the Right Brand and Model
In 2024, you have the luxury of choice, unlike during the pandemic. It’s crucial to research and understand where different brands rank in terms of quality and value. Consider whether you’re a “premium level guy” or a “mid-tier person” or if you’re looking for value. There’s no bad boats out there anymore… they’re all pretty good and very safe for sure.
Try Before You Buy
Consider renting a similar boat to the one you’re interested in. This step can confirm if you’re on the right track or if you need to pivot your decision. It’s a way to avoid buyer’s remorse and ensure that boating is as enjoyable as you anticipate.
Inspection is key whether it’s a used boat, almost new boat, or brand new boat before you write that check.
Negotiation and Sea Trial
Negotiation is an art, and in 2024, there’s opportunities for some great values and some great discounts. Don’t forget to conduct a sea trial to ensure everything is functioning correctly. If issues arise, use them as leverage in your negotiation for repairs or price reductions.
Finalizing the Paperwork
The paperwork is as crucial as the boat itself. Ensure all serial numbers match, and you have a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. Verify that all details are correct, as “those can be very very difficult to address after the fact.”
Buying a boat in 2024 is about being informed, prepared, and realistic. Life truly is better on a boat, but getting to that life requires diligence and smart decision-making.
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