Boat Values and Prices: Negotiating Your Purchase
Understanding boat values and boat pricing is a critical part of buying a new or used boat. Buying a boat is a substantial purchase, so naturally, you want to be sure you’re not overpaying. After you’ve spent some time using our Boat Finder tool to be sure you’ve found the ideal boat, you understand boat financing and boat loans, and your shopping experience is complete, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. But pricing for the very same model can vary quite a bit depending on options, engine, and rigging. So, how can you be sure the price is right?
Start by following these simple steps:
- Find and work with a boat dealer you can trust.
- Visit the manufacturer’s website—be sure to utilize our list of Boat Brands & Manufacturers.
- Google is your friend—spend some time searching out listed pricing.
- Check the NADA guides and BUC values.
Find a Boat Dealer You Can Trust
We can’t stress this one enough. You’ll run across some dealers who are in the business of selling boats because they have a passion for boating, and others whose main interest is making a profit. Fortunately, there are a lot of boat nuts out there—and accordingly, there are a lot of dealers and salespeople who truly enjoy matching a person up with the boat they’re going to love. Yes, they still need to make a living and they will want to make a profit. But when you find a dealer you can trust, look them in the eye, and ask them to give you the bottom-line best price, you’re likely to get an honest answer.
A good place to start is making sure you’re buying from a Marine Industry Certified Dealership.
Visit the Boat Manufacturer’s Website
Some boat manufacturers offer a “builder tool” on their website, and many include pricing. Some will offer to email you a quote after you complete a “virtual build.” These often allow you to price different features and options and can be very helpful in determining the value of the package you’re looking at.
We have a list of links for NMMA Certified Boat Brands & Manufacturers to help lead your search.
Trust, But Verify
Naturally, you do want to verify that you’re being quoted a realistic value for any boat you’re looking at. Google can be quite helpful in this regard. While the marine industry hasn’t yet quite come around to the same level of MSRP disclosure as the automotive industry, it is getting better and better all the time. Just remember that, as with everything on the internet, you should look for multiple sources and take everything you see with a grain of salt.
Check NADA Guides & BUC Values
These guides can only show history and don’t include current pricing, so they’re most helpful for determining the value of used boats. However, even when you’re shopping new they can help put the value of a boat into context.
Boat Pricing is Variable
As you check on pricing, it’s important to remember that boat value is subject to a lot of variables. Along with power choices and features, geography will play a role because dealerships have different levels of expenses depending on where they’re located. And when it comes to used boats there’s obviously a huge range of factors to take into account, ranging from the boat’s condition, to how much use it’s had, to where and how it’s been used, to what (if any) warranties it may still carry.
Negotiating Your Boat Purchase
Before you even begin to negotiate a final deal, make sure you’ve already gone through all of the above research and come to the table armed with solid background knowledge. Boat dealers know that today’s buyers are savvy, can research boat prices, and have probably already talked with their competition. They know just what their overhead costs are and what level of profit they need to make to stay in business. Ask an honest dealer what the bottom-line price is, and you’re likely to get a straight answer.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t make some special requests. Dealers can sometimes add an extended warranty or an option or two to sweeten the deal, without taking too much of a hit. And remember, you’ll often be able to get a better deal if you:
- Buy a boat during the off-season or at the very end of the boating season, when dealers really want to move their inventory.
- Buy a leftover model year boat, which the dealer wants to move to make way for the next model year.
- Buy at a boat show, where the dealer may offer special incentives or reductions.
- Order a boat as opposed to buying off the lot, so the dealer doesn’t have to pay floor plan (remember, though, you may be in for a wait while the boat’s being built).
To learn more about the entire buying process, financing or ownership costs, be sure to read:
- Choosing the Right Boat: Buying Guide for Recreational Boating
- Boat Loan Calculator
- Boat Financing: Helpful Information for Boat Buyers
- Boat Buyer's Guide
- Costs of Ownership: Boat Costs & Affordability