Magazines, books and websites are awash with advice on buying a boat, so you're probably already planning to go to boat shows, compare features and options, and check into reliability and performance. But there are also a few tips and tricks that most buyers never hear about, so lend me your ears: what follows is a list of five unusual tips for boat buyers that you probably haven't heard about just yet.
1. Research finance options – even if you don't need to
Explore financing options through the dealer, even if you have cash or access to good credit facilities. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily take their deal—it may be better or worse than the one you can get elsewhere—but you need to at least bring up the possibility during negotiations. Many dealerships get rewarded for setting up the financing. As a result, they may be willing to drop the price a bit or throw some optional equipment into the deal, if you're willing to route the financing through them.
2. Research your resale values
Look up your chosen builder’s general resale values. It’s easy, and you can do it right here on boats.com. Just do a search for whatever model you’re looking at, but specify only used boats. If the model is brand new, look at the closest size and style. Then compare the price of the new boat to those of used boats. You’ll find that from one builder to the next, there can be quite a difference. Often there isn’t much variation between the percentage-drop of models in a particular builder’s line-up, but there’s lots of variation between the different builders. Look at Fairline and Sunseeker yachts of all shapes and sizes, for example, and you’ll see some spectacular resale values. With many lower-tier builders, value drops off much more significantly—regardless of the model.
3. More power is always better
If you can at all afford it, buy the largest available powerplant. Again, the key here is to consider resale. Boats with more power tend to sell much faster and carry more value on the used boat market. So even if you don’t need that big engine now, opting for it can make selling the boat a lot easier down the road.
4. Get the drift
When you go for a sea trial, shut down the engine and spend some time just bobbing around. Many sea trials consist of leaving the marina, cruising around, then returning to the dock. But that won’t give you a feel for how the boat acts at rest. If you plan on doing a lot of entertaining, you’ll want to know how much the boat rocks and rolls at anchor and on the drift. If you’re an angler you’ll want to learn if the boat drifts stern-to or beam-to in the seas. The only way to learn about traits like these is to test them out on the water, before you buy.
5. Do more research
Do more research, right here on boats.com. We have a slew of boat-buying features and articles which will help you become an educated shopper. Start off with Choosing a boat: which boat is right for me? and make sure you know what not to do by jumping over to the US boats.com site and reading: Top four boat buying blunders. Then read How to Buy a Boat: Tips for a First Time Buyer, which will give you a lot of insight into choosing the right kind of boat, finding the “perfect” one, and how to close the deal.