Benefits of Buying a Boat New VS. Used
So, you have decided to buy a boat. The next question is usually, should I buy new or used? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each? I have been selling both new and used boats for almost 10 years and talked to hundreds of clients on this decision. Hopefully I can take these experiences and help you make the decision that is right for you.
Buying "New" Pros and Cons:
New boats come with warranties. Not every manufacturer has the same warranty, but they all have some type of warranty. On top of the manufacturer’s warranty, often times there are warranties on some of the equipment that goes even further. Engine warranties are a good example of this and can usually even be extended for a price.
When you order a new boat, you get it equipped exactly the way you want. You do not pay for additional equipment that you know you won’t use. Also, the equipment is usually the latest and greatest. You will not have the additional cost of upgrading in the near future because your equipment has quickly become outdated.
You get to choose layouts, fabrics, countertops, etc. This gives you the chance to make the boat truly yours and reflect your tastes.
This is the biggest deterrent to buying a new boat. You are paying a premium for all the other advantages listed here. You will usually take the biggest depreciation on the value of the boat over its life.
Not everyone knows this, but finance rates are better on new boats than they are on used boats. And when you get into boats 20 years and older, it can be hard to even get financing and will usually require a higher percentage deposit.
This falls into a few categories. The first being that the boat and equipment are covered by warranties so there is no cost if a piece of equipment fails. This does not cover misuse or damage. The next would be maintenance history. Because you have owned the boat from new, you know all the maintenance that has been done. This includes everything from engine maintenance to waxing to equipment that has been replaced. The longer you own a boat and therefor the older it gets, the more important this information is. And finally, you are receiving a clean boat. Bilges, lockers, heads, beds, etc. have not been used and start fresh.
This is probably the most overlooked advantage to a new boat. It can also be the worst experience if you do not get support from your local dealer. Look into the reputation of the dealer you are considering buying a boat from. See if you can find other owners of the brand you are considering and ask them about their experiences. This is usually the best way to know what to expect. Know that even when buying a new boat, issues will come up. It is how the dealer deals with these issues that will make owning boat either a fantastic experience or a terrible experience.
Buying "Brokerage" Pros and Cons:
While the advantage list for used boats isn’t as long as it is for new boats, cost is quiet often the biggest advantage. The initial cost of a used boat is less than new. Boats are a depreciating asset and the original buyers are the ones that usually take the biggest hit in depreciation. Also, a new boat is not always in the budget. The most important thing is getting out on the water with friends and family on a safe and fun boat.
While the cost of a used boat is less than a new boat, there are other costs associated with buying a used boat. The first cost is the cost of the survey and sea trial. Hopefully the first boat that you find passes survey and sea trial. If you have to do this more than once because a boat failed survey, it can add up quickly. Also, with almost every survey, there will be a list of items that need to be addressed. There is a cost to this. While some items may be taken care of by the seller, there are ones that are taken on by the buyer as well. As I always tell clients before a survey, you are buying a used boat, there are items that will come up. Do not expect perfect, perfect costs more. Surveys and sea trials are to make sure that the big expensive items work and there are no surprises. Another hidden cost is in the equipment. Depending on the age of the boat and previous owner upgrades, things will need to updated as time goes by. For example, a 10 year-old chartplotter may work and pass survey, but this is an item that may need to be replace fairly soon. So, this is a near future cost that may not be recognized.
This also falls into the maintenance category above. The previous owner is a big part in buying a used boat. While you may or may not ever meet this person, how they took care of the boat on their watch will make a big difference in your ownership experience. Cleanliness of the boat is a good starting point. Things like clean bilges are a good sign of a well-cared for boat. Also, a list of replaced and upgraded equipment over the life of the boat is a good sign. When this upgrade/maintenance list has all occurred in the past few months, that is usually a sign that proper maintenance has not been done over the life of the boat. One thing that I disagree with is the idea that a single owner boat is the best option. Again, a great owner will make for a great boat. But a boat that his been sold a few times has had a professional surveyor go through the boat each time the boat transferred owners and make observations and recommendations every time the boat has transferred owners. Quite often some of the issues that come up are not visible and the current owner did not know about them, otherwise a good owner would have taken care them. Probably the biggest culprit of this is moisture in the deck or hull.
As you shop for your next boat, you may find the perfect boat, but it is in poor condition. So now you know the boat you want, you now have to find a nice one. This can sometime be harder than you think. You can take two of the same new boats and 15 years later they may hardly resemble each other. Good boats will also ask a premium price.
This can make not only getting the boat to you difficult, but also even looking at a boat. This also falls under the hidden cost category. Best case scenario is when you find the perfect boat close to home. But travel to see a boat, again to survey and sea trial the boat and finally move the boat can add up.
I hope that you find this article helpful and helps you make the right decision for your situation. I also hope it that helps with expectations for buying either a new or used boat. Knowing what to expect will make the experience for either scenario better.