Guide to Buying a Used Boat

Find the Used Boat of Your Dreams

If buying a used boat is on your list of priorities for the new year, there are a few things you should consider in your search for your dream boat—one that fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your wish list of options. 

First, give yourself a pat on the back for your decision to buy a previously owned vessel, especially if this is your first watercraft. Like cars, boats depreciate, with the original owner having taken the biggest bite of the devaluation. A “gently used,” craft (ideally, in the two- to four-year-old range) that has been meticulously maintained can greatly reduce the price, leaving you with more money for a few “extras” to make it your own. 

Our step-by-step guide can be a lifeline to help you find the vessel you want without drowning in debt. 

Find Your Boat Type

A good start is to become familiar with the myriad of boat types out there. While you may feel “pretty sure” about your preferences, you may be surprised at the boatload of options awaiting today’s watercraft buyer. Check out this buying guide, and in a matter of minutes, you can begin to narrow your search with a boat finder that displays nearly two dozen categories and allows you to make instant comparisons. Included are eight categories such as boats for sailing, water sports, salt- or freshwater fishing, day cruising, and more. 

Do You Need a Broker?

The decision to go through a broker to buy a used boat will depend on how much time and effort you are willing to invest in completing the transaction responsibly. Weigh the benefits a broker brings to the experience, keeping the cost of their services in mind. 

Financing and Budget Considerations

Before you go any further, assess your financial situation to determine what you can afford. Whether you are using a broker or not, brush up on information about financing, warranties, and deposits. Make sure you and the lender are compatible and that you understand the terms and limits of your agreement. You may find that there are more loan options than you realized. 

Start Your Search 

When you’ve settled on a boat type and have your financing in place, begin your internet search to get a handle on price ranges for boats that fit your criteria, then arm yourself with a reputable price guide book, such as the “BUC Book.” Talk to your boating friends who have bought from local dealers and ask for recommendations based on their experiences. 

Inspect a Used Boat Before You Buy It 

Fortunately, websites abound about suggestions to inspect a boat, so take your time to cull the best tips before you make the purchase. Start with this 10-minute checklist and informative (and very thorough) 10-minute video. Be aware that some Florida lenders require an inspection by an independent marine surveyor. To quickly eliminate boats you may not be interested in, you may want to create a list of questions for preliminary phone calls. 

Tips to Know Before You Buy

Insure Your New Boat with Farm Bureau Insurance

Make sure your boat is in compliance with state insurance minimums by purchasing boat insurance with Farm Bureau Insurance. Get started by contacting a local agent using our Agent Finder.