Home of the boat buyer

Buyer Tools

Buying a boat can be one of the most rewarding and exciting things you will ever do! It can also be a fairly significant amount of money, so you want to take all the precautions necessary to make sure your transaction goes as smoothly as possible. Here are a few simple steps to consider when your search for the perfect vessel is finally over. You have located her, now what's next?

  • Educate yourself on the value of the vessel. One of the best ways to find out a reasonable price range of what the vessel is really worth is to locate as many vessels within the same year, general condition, extras, and equipment as the one you are interested in. Compile a list and compare apples to apples. A valuable resource for a comparison would be from NADA Guides boat values found at www.nadaguides.com/boats or a boat value check offered by BoatsU.S. at www.boatus.com/buyer/valueform.asp. Another valuable resource would be other online websites; including boats sold by a yacht sales person on www.yachtworld.com Keep in mind similar vessels may be slightly higher with boat dealers or yacht brokers due to the owner having to pay an 8% to 15% commission at closing.
  • If you plan on a cash purchase, make sure your funds are clear and available for closing. If you are planning on taking out a loan, consider getting prequalified before you even start negotiations with the owner. Go to our Boat Loan tab at www.buyownerboat.com for financial institutions that can help you with the prequalification process. Also, never purchase a vessel "sight unseen".
  • Once you and the owner(s) of the vessel have arrived at a price that is acceptable to both parties, put down a refundable deposit (usually 5% to 10%) of the purchase price. (Usually held in an escrow account at a title company) Spell out the terms of the agreement such as: if the purchase is contingent on a survey, haul-out, or an itemized list of extra items included, etc... Also, put in writing any conditions for purchase you wish to spell out ex: (time frame) and have the agreement dated and signed in the presence of a witness or notary. This written agreement is referred to as a purchase and sales agreement. Excellent and invaluable information on this agreement can be found at www.boatus.com/buyer/guide/buyer/contracts.asp.
  • Make sure the sale is contingent on a survey, inspection, and/or sea trial. A professional boat survey will not only give you a good idea of what the vessel is worth, but provide you with an unbiased opinion on what, if anything, is wrong with the vessel and the general condition. A great resource for locating a marine surveyor can be found at www.boatus.com/insurance/survey.asp Surveys are usually also required for insurance on your vessel. If you feel that this is not necessary, at least consider paying a local boat mechanic to take a look at the engine. The small fee they charge could save you thousands down the road. Last, considering taking her out on a sea trial with the owner to find out how she handles. Is it love at first sight? A match made in heaven? You will certainly find out!
  • Closing- Before you close on your vessel, make sure a title search is conducted on your potential new vessel. You can have a title search done with the state in which the vessel is registered. If the boat is a documented vessel, check with the coast guard for more information at www.uscgboating.org Request copies of the title or registration or have a title search company make sure the vessel is free and clear of all loans or any liens. If there is an outstanding loan on the vessel, it may be necessary to make the check payable to the financial institution. A title company can also assist you in the closing, escrow, bill of sale, and ensure a clear transfer of title. Another resource to consider is your local banker, who can also assist you in the process or refer you to a closing agent for your new vessel. Good Luck and see you out on the Water!