Boat buying tips
What you need to know before signing on the dotted line
With boat season kicking off, boat buyers are on the prowl. BoatUS has some must-do tips before you sign on the dotted line.
The Internet is your friend and foe: It’s always good to research a boat you’re considering online. Although the Internet isn’t always accurate, you may learn about serious problems other owners have had. Check owners’ chat boards or online boating, fishing or cruising discussion groups for the kind of boat you’re considering. BoatUS members can also search its national consumer complaint database for boats. Look out for Internet scams if you’re buying online.
Always get a professional marine survey: Surveys can uncover potential problems and help with price negotiations. On a boat with expensive engines or generators, a separate engine survey could save you huge headaches later. Make any purchase contingent on the survey. For a list of accredited surveyors, visit boatus.com/surveyors.
Take the boat on a sea trial: You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a drive, and you should treat buying a boat the same way—whether it’s a 16- or 60-footer.
Give yourself some reasonable protections: Make sure that your deposit is 100 percent refundable if any contingencies such as a survey, financing or insurance are not met. Get it in writing. If a warranty or promise to fix something is part of the sale, get it in writing.
Check title and registration: Before getting too serious about a boat, verify that the owner (or brokerage/consignor) has the title and registration on hand. Any liens will have to be paid before transferring title.
BoatUS has additional resources online, including a free buying guide and boat evaluation checklist.