15 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Boat
Boating season is almost here, and you have some questions to ask before buying a boat. With boating sales reaching a 13-year high in 2020, we aren’t surprised the boating bug bit you too! Whether you are buying a boat from a dealer or buying a boat from a private seller, the expert team at Rocket Marine has 15 questions you need to ask first.
1. Why do I want to buy a boat?
Start with the reason why you want to buy a boat. What is your intended use – fishing, water skiing with the kids, sipping wine while taking in a watery sunset? Determining why you want to buy a boat helps determine where you will use it. Knowing your intended environment will help you find a boat with all the features you need for that purpose. It eliminates a lot of options! Boats aren’t an all-purpose, one-size-fits-all, so narrow down your search with what you want to do when out on the water.
2. Do I want a used or new boat?
Are you hoping to find a killer deal and are okay with browsing a more limited pre-owned market to find it? Or would you instead buy the exact boat you want and have the guarantee of a manufacturer’s warranty?
3. Where will I winterize and store it?
Depending on the climate you live in, winterizing your boat can be a bit of a challenge. There are also many boat storage options for boating off-season, but each has pros and cons. Exploring your options and answering vital questions before buying your boat is essential. For example, does your marina have a waitlist? Can you keep your boat on the trailer outside? Do you have a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) that would allow it?
4. Can I afford the annual fees and maintenance?
While the initial purchase price is intimidating, it is, unfortunately, just the beginning of the price boat owners pay. Experts estimate regular maintenance to fall around 10% of your boat’s cost annually. Of course, this percentage can go up if you opt for an older or fancier boat! Keep in mind that maintenance isn’t the only added cost. You have registration fees, storage fees, and regular safety equipment updates.
5. Is this a practical purchase?
Racing off to the lake to enjoy a peaceful day out on the water sounds ideal for spending your summer. However, is it a realistic option for your family, lifestyle, and budget? Will you have enough time to get your boat out on the water and enjoy it? If you’re unsure if ownership is right for you, try renting a boat to see how much you genuinely love it and how much time you can dedicate to getting out on the water.
Ask The Dealer
1. Are you a certified dealer?
Not all boat dealerships get certified. Look for dealers who have voluntarily entered a Marine Industry Certification program where they must demonstrate to third-party reviewers a commitment to meet or exceed high standards for customer service, employee satisfaction, facilities, and business practices.
Know that certified dealerships undergo an extensive audit of their business and receive continued training to serve their customers best. In addition, they pledge to follow the Marine Industry Consumer Commitment to provide fair and equal treatment to all of their customers. You can find state-by-state listings of Certified dealers.
2. Is your service staff certified by the manufacturers of the products they work on?
This isn’t always the case because not all manufacturers will certify technicians to work on their products. However, many dealerships do. Knowing the staff have certifications to work on your boat gives you extra confidence in the dealership’s service.
3. Can you help me arrange financing?
Boat financing is one of the biggest considerations when buying a new boat. Fortunately, many dealers will assist you with getting all your financing in order. Think of it like a car dealership. It’s in their best interest to find you the best financing options that work best for you to make the sale. They also want your sale to go quickly and smoothly.
4. Can you help me with registration?
The process of registering a boat varies from state to state. Most dealerships are familiar with the registration process and requirements for the state they are operating in. However, certain situations, like crossing state lines when making a purchase, can make the process more difficult. Ask ahead of time to ensure registering your boat doesn’t become an unexpected headache.
5. Will you educate me on my new boat?
When your boat finally arrives, your dealership should hand you over to a friendly, knowledgeable staff member who is familiar with the boat. The staff member should provide 1-2 hours of instruction on how the boat handles, the boat’s system, maintenance, and what to do when out on the water. They should also be available to answer all questions you have as they go. This is invaluable information, even for experienced boaters, as every boat is different and has its own unique system.
Ask A Private Seller
1. Why are you selling the boat?
Whenever you ask a seller why they’re selling a boat, they usually answer something along the lines of, “Oh! I just don’t have the time to get it out on the water!” This is why it’s important to thoroughly inspect the boat to ensure there isn’t any other reason. For example, check the hull for any signs of damage, like cracks in the fiberglass. Any crack larger than two inches means trouble and lots of money in repairs. You’ll also want to inspect the belts for wear and any sign of mold or mildew.
While you might save money going to a private seller for a second-hand boat, it may be wise for a first-time buyer to go to a trusted dealership with a proven track record of reliable vessels to buy a boat.
2. How many owners has it had?
Knowing how many owners the boat has had will help give you a good idea of the boat’s life. Many owners may pose a problem because it is hard to determine how the previous owners treated the boat before the person you are buying from.
3. Is it still under warranty – if it is, can you transfer the warranty to a new owner?
Always find out if the boat is under warranty. New boats usually come with a warranty to protect against any manufacturer issues and a few minor repairs. Buying a boat second-hand doesn’t mean you don’t have a warranty. Many boat warranties will transfer if you make the sale correctly. Usually, a manufacturer will give a new boat owner a warranty to cover a few things like electrical and plumbing systems and steering systems. The warranties typically last for 1-2 years.
4. Can I have a marine surveyor inspect the boat?
Think of a marine surveyor, kind of like your trusted mechanic. Before you buy a used car, you may ask your mechanic to look at it to give you a better understanding of what you’re getting into. A marine surveyor serves the same purpose. If you don’t know much about boats and boat repairs, we highly recommend you have a trusted, knowledgeable expert come look with you! If you don’t know anyone who fits this description, your local marine surveyor is a wonderful choice!
5. How do you store the boat and maintain it?
If possible, ask to see the boat’s service logs. An invested and competent boat owner typically logs the boat’s regular maintenance and service. While the lack of a log isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, it could mean that the boat hasn’t had service – which is a red flag. Receiving regular service for any boat is vital because it helps you ensure that small issues don’t turn into large (costly) ones.
In addition, ask how much the boat usually costs to service so you have a solid idea of what other expenses are coming your way! Finally, this is also a great opportunity to determine if the boat has had any major repairs.
Buying a boat is an exciting adventure! Congratulations! We hope this list of 15 questions to ask helps you enter the process with confidence and excitement. Once you find that perfect boat, you will need a reliable and top-quality trailer to safely get your new water ride there. Luckily, Rocket Marine has just what you need! We are also happy to answer any and all boating-related questions you have – like you, we love being out on the water. So give us a call today!