how to buy a used boatUsed boats give you a number of important advantages over new, especially in these days of runaway inflation and stressed-out supply chains. The immediate advantage of used is that they are recession proof. Their value is not based on cost predictions from manufacturers and are free from economic upheavals that grossly affect production costs and available parts.


The biggest advantage of a used boat is that they are more affordable at the time of purchase and in the long run. Good deals are available on a lightly used boat that often will be in better operational condition than new as all the warranty issues have been resolved.

In the boating industry, it’s a given that the value of the new boat depreciates about ten percent a year in the first year of purchase and between 6-8% in the next few years. The value continues to decrease as the years go on so that by the time it’s about 4 years old you will have lost about 30% of its value.

The beauty with buying used is that a used boat is priced based on its accumulated depreciation. This is a huge savings over new. You avoid a large amount of loss buying used. The depreciation tapers off, so that you have less going forward and more value over time than buying new.


You want to have a full picture of what kind of condition the boat you’re considering is in under all the nice interior amenities, so you’re going to have a marine survey done prior to purchase. There are essentially three different inspections you can do depending upon the age of the boat and your concerns. You always order a full marine survey. The surveyor does a general inspection of the boat in the water and out of the water. All the systems are checked for operation and any signs of deterioration. If you have concerns about the engine, or it’s an older boat, you order a mechanical survey on the engine. Oil samples are taken and the engine is stress tested and fully inspected. For sailboats, you can also order a rig survey. Some surveyors do them but generally they do not go up the rig. There are rigging companies that perform these types of surveys.

If the boat passes the surveys, then you can feel comfort in knowing there are no pressing problems to attend to.


If an owner took care of their vessel appropriately it won’t be hard to see that as you inspect it. Always look in the engine room and under the floorboards. Request a maintenance history and find out the intervals that maintenance was done. This is the best way to know what you might be inheriting in terms of deferred maintenance and possible issues from normal wear and tear. 


 A good broker helps you analyze the boat, comps and other price points on the market to come up with a fair offer. Most boats are priced within a range based on past sales and current conditions. Some are not.  Your broker can help you assess the situation and help you with an offer and the rationale for the offer.

The worst way to make an offer is to low-ball the seller. This alienates people who are offering nice boats at fair prices and they can decide not to deal with you. It’s the seller’s choice. If you are making an offer on a very desired used boat with a lot of competition, you should probably expect to pay near asking (provided the asking is market range).

The offer sets the tone for the rest of the negotiations and interactions going forward. Make this a thoughtful step based on facts.


You’re buying a new boat for yourself but you’re buying a used boat, and there may be things that need to be upgraded or customized to suit your use. A new boat has warranty issues and operational issues because its new so whether new or used, you will have to prepare yourself for this kind of work.

You most likely will want to change some things on your boat and if you’re buying an older used boat, do some upgrades and repairs. Make sure you budget for these things. We like to tell people to have at least 10% of the purchase price for your “improvement kitty”.


There are lots of small details that go into buying any kind of boat, but especially with used you want to be educated in the process.

We offer a monthly webinar on the third Wednesday of every month on HOW TO BUY A USED BOAT. It’s a full hour of information that educates you and offers a comprehensive look at how to buy and what you need to know. Sign up here.

We also offer a customer-oriented buying program that can save you lots of time and money. It’s our own proprietary program. Check out our Signature Buyers Service here.