7 Advantages to Buying a Used Boat vs New Boat

Dec 27, 2021
When buying a boat, the budget is often the first thing on the buyer’s mind. However, to get the most bang for your buck, buying a used boat makes a lot of sense for multiple reasons. If you’re looking for a guide in buying a new boat vs used boat, then this blog is for you.

The first reason buying a used boat makes sense is that you’re paying the actual market value, or maybe even below market value. Just like driving a new car off the lot instantly decreases the deal, the same is true of a boat. A boat is a depreciating asset, and the main loss of value happens immediately after the new boat purchase.

Secondly, when it comes time to sell your boat, you’ll take less of a hit from a used boat purchase because you both bought and sold at market value, not an inflated new boat price.

cobalt bow rider driving boat

Purchase a pre-owned boat and get more boat for your budget.

For Best Used Boat Price, Buy During Off-Season

A great time to buy a boat is in the fall, winter, or early spring. The current owner may realize that they didn’t use the boat as much as they thought they would, or the seller may be thinking ahead to an upgrade. Either way, the seller is likely to negotiate the price to move the sale along.

Off-season buying is not only a way to get a lower price, but it’s also possible that boat finance rates may be lower during the off-season. Also, consider that if there are boat repairs, maintenance, or upgrades to be done, you’ll likely get the best service at your local marina during non-peak seasons.

There may be other reasons why boat owner wants to sell, like they need money. It gives the buyer yet another advantage when negotiating a favorable price.

advantages of buying used boat

Buy a used boat during the off-season and negotiate a favorable price.

Advantages to Buying a Used Boat From a Dealer

There are three main sellers of used boats. You can buy a boat from a used boat dealership, a boat broker, or a private seller. Each has advantages.

The advantage of a used boat dealer, like a local marina that sells used boats, is that there are much quality used boats to view at one location. Also, you may be open to what kind of boat you’re looking for anyway, so just seeing what’s out there and at what price point is a fun educational experience in itself. 

When viewing many quality boats in one location, it is possible to find yourself purchasing a model you hadn’t previously considered. But there it was, in beautiful condition and immediately available. That is another advantage of used boats, ready to use today.

Because you are buying a boat from a dealership, it may give the buyer a perfect opportunity to build trust with the dealer. The dealer may have serviced the boat in the past, may know its history and can provide future service for boat maintenance and repairs.

An additional advantage of purchasing from a used boat dealership is they have easy access to boat financing. Since a boat is a major purchase, most people finance a boat with monthly payments.

used boat vs new boat

Purchasing a used boat from a dealer has advantages. Selection at a single location and creating a relationship for future service are both advantages.

Advantages to Buying a Boat From a Broker or Private Seller

The advantage of buying a boat from a broker is that they may have a wide coverage area from where they draw customers, giving them a large selection. It may be helpful if you are searching out a particular model.

The drawback is that the boats may be scattered at separate locations, and to go view and test drive the boats is both time-consuming and costly.

A private seller may also be a good place to find a great price, and they may have all of the details of the boat’s history. But again, you can only view one boat per location.

Know the Boat’s History

Regardless of what source you choose to purchase a boat, you’ll want to gather as much information about the boat’s history. Especially important are the scheduled maintenance records for services like oil changes, lower unit services, and annual winterization.

It is important to know all of the repairs and upgrades that have been made over time. Therefore, it is best if the seller provides records of these repairs and upgrades. 

Ideally, the history shows that the repairs and upgrades were done over a period of time as they naturally occurred. Beware if there have been many repairs in the past few months, which indicate maintenance had been absent, and the seller just got the boat ready to sell.

You need to do a close inspection to know what you’re buying. Beyond the maintenance records, look at the overall cleanliness, and inspect closely for damage to the gel coat and fiberglass. Inspect the carpet, upholstery, and accessories. 

Look closely at the cleanliness of the bilge and the engine. A continuously maintained piece of equipment always looks fresh and clean.

Inspect the motor for any leaks, cracked belts or hoses, corroded electrical parts, or black soot inside the engine compartment. Again, an engine that is maintained will always have a clean and tidy appearance.

Inspect the hull of the boat for hairline cracks and gouges. These may be signs of degradation of the underlying structural fiberglass. Also, look for moisture within the deck or hull. In case there are issues, a qualified shop can do permanent fiberglass and gel coat repairs that can make it good as new.

For a serious investment, you may want to hire a marine surveyor, the boat equivalent of a home inspector. They know exactly where to look for potential issues.

driving a boat showing peace sign

Before purchasing a used boat, gather all of the maintenance records so you are confident that it has been well cared for.

Other Advantages to Buying a Used Boat

A huge advantage to buying a used boat is that the boat may come fully outfitted. For instance, it may come with an anchor and anchor line, bow and stern lines, bumpers, first aid kit, flares, fire extinguisher, and life jackets. All of these accessory items add up to upfront costs when buying a new boat.

Other bonuses may be a canopy or enclosure, boat cover, upgraded electronics, and a trailer.

When choosing a used boat model, you can research reviews online and find out whether the model you are interested in is a good one or it’s a lemon. There are sure to be lots of owner-written testimonies about any boat model. This is valuable information as a buyer because it alerts you what to watch out for or assures you that the model is a solid design.


Buying a used boat is a great choice for most people. It is a way to maximize value and quality for the money spent. It is also a safe investment when it comes to holding resale value. 

If you are confident that the boat you’re interested in has been well maintained, it likely has a lot of life left in it. After all, the goal is to get out on the water with family and friends and have fun. By lowering the cost of your boat purchase, it may free up time and money for additional recreation and relaxation. Goal achieved!

For new or used boat transport contact Trailers and Transport.

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