How to Buy or Sell Your Boat

1. Start at square one. Write down your must-haves, what you would like to have, and what would be nice.

2. Use the 90/10 guideline: How do you see yourself using the boat 90% of the time vs. the other 10% of the time?

3. Familiar yourself with different makes and models.

4. Understand the cost of ownership: You own the boat – don’t let the boat own you.

5. Whether you are buying new or used, find a dealer or broker you like and trust. They will help you find what you are looking for, protect your interests, and make the process smooth and simple.

6. Learn about the benefits of paying cash or financing and familiarize yourself with interest rates and loan terms.

7. Prepare for thorough inspections and sea trials before closing on a deal.

8. Know the difference between a boat title and USCG documentation, and know what paperwork is required.

Start at square one. Write it down! Writing your ideas and thought processes down will give you a clear vision of the right boat for you. 

90/10 Rule – This is important as many people get wrapped up in the small stuff. Try to figure out how you’re going to use the boat 90% of the time. This will keep you using the boat longer and enjoying your time on the water. The 10% can be modified and most of the time is forgotten. 

Familiar yourself with the makes and models. In the beginning of your search, get on boats – all different kinds. Even if you might not like the model, look for the features on that boat that you like to give you ideas. A lot of boats are customizable. For the models that you do like, ask for a test drive. This will allow you to go and experience the boat on the water. 

Cost of ownership – Dockage, storage, winterization, summarization, and maintenance are the yearly costs that factor into owning a boat. The boat’s age and how you use it will determine the additional costs. Familiarize yourself with the potential costs to determine what the best option is for you. 

Dealer and/or Broker – Dealers and brokers are here to help you find the perfect boat, make the buying process easy, and at the end of the day, they want you to be a repeat client. Most dealers and brokers will go above and beyond to help your experience in the buying and selling process. They will help with the dos and don’ts. 

How to pay? Cash or financing? Many banks and credit unions offer financing on boats. Financing can go up to 20 years on some makes and models. The actual boat, credit score, and debt to income ratio will determine the bank's interest rates and loan terms. 

Surveys – Surveys and inspections can be done in-house or by a third party. Depending on the age of the boat, your insurance company may request a SAMS or NAMS accredited survey. Sea trials should be done with clients as well, showing the boat will run and operate to manufacturer specifications.

Title vs. USCG Documentation – There are two ways you can register your boat. Titling is done with the state, where the state will issue a title of ownership. United States Coast Guard Documentation establishes the ownership and nationality of a vessel. Recreational vessels over 5 net tons have the option to document their vessel with the U.S. Coast Guard and obtain a Certificate of Documentation. 

We are happy to answer any questions you have and look forward to helping you with your boating needs. You can reach us at (216) 661-2104, or fill out the form below.