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June 23, 2013

Wanna Buy My Boat?

If a pre-owned boat is your only option, here's how to score the best deal without getting burned.

Understanding the Seller

So where can you get the most boat for the money: from a dealer or a private seller? Better bargains are possible with individuals anxious to sell, and they often throw in extras like electronics and safety gear. But the buyer assumes all of the risks with this transaction. There is little recourse for a deal gone bad or when a major problem pops up, other than the courts. Individual sales are often trouble-free, but it's smart to be aware of the pitfalls going in.

Pre-owned boats at a dealership may cost more, but there are advantages to going this route. Dealers can pass along the tax-difference savings between trade-ins. They know the legal nuances and can make sure the boat title and registration are properly recorded. Warranties are negotiable and extended plans are generally limited to five or six years depending on the state.

Dealers want to earn your business and eventually sell you a brand-new rig when it's time to upgrade, so they will try to make you happy.

They can also steer you toward wholesalers, who buy boats too old for dealers to keep in regular inventory. A wholesaler may be a good choice if you're searching for a particular model or cash is tight.

Buying a pre-owned boat doesn't have to be a hassle. Do your homework and take your time to find one that meets your expectations, both financially and fishably.

And take it from me, you may find it easier to spend more time on the boat if you let your wife name it.

Selling Your Boat?
Follow these five tips to unload your old rig fast.

Curb Appeal: Before listing, make sure everything is working properly. Buff the gelcoat, touch up scratches, wash and wax. Appearance sells!

Package Deal: Turn-key rigs move faster than bare hulls or those with open holes in the console. You'll want new electronics for the replacement boat, anyway.

It Pays to Advertise: Internet forums sell fiberglass, but don't overlook newspaper classifieds, marina flyers and the ol' sign on the windshield. The ideal buyer is an out-of-towner who's been searching for months for a rig just like yours.

Splash Down: Most serious buyers want a sea trial before closing. Ask for a refundable deposit beforehand to discourage joy-riders.

Green, Please: Accept cash or a certified cashier's check as payment. In return, provide the buyer with all the applicable manuals and an itemized receipt with hull and equipment serial numbers. Keep a copy for your records.
— D.L.