Finding Funds: 4 Tips for Buying a Boat

By David Leto

| Photographs By studio-laska

When spring and summer hit, it’s always nice to have a boat you can take out on the water. It gives you the opportunity to catch some sun, spend time with friends and family, and try some wakeboarding or other fun activities. 

A boat is a big purchase, though, and you definitely want to make sure that you get the right one. Here are some useful tips on how you can buy the boat of your dreams.

Determine the Features You Need

There’s a wide range of boats available, and within each category there are boats with all kinds of different features. The first thing you should do is figure out what you want to do with your boat, whether it’s fishing, waterskiing, sailing or something else. 

Keep in mind that there are boats that can handle multiple different activities, such as fish and ski boats.

Once you’ve got the category figured out, you can move on to your desired features. Knowing these will make it much easier to filter through options and narrow things down. Write down everything you want so that you can refer back to it if you do any online searches.

Go to Boat Shows and Dealerships

Now it’s time to start looking at boats. The best place to start is a local boat show, where you’ll be able to check out many different boats in one afternoon. 

The great thing about boat shows is that there will be many dealers there, and you can also see which dealers you like. Make a list of questions before you go. That way, you can ask every dealer the same thing and judge them all evenly.

After you’ve found a few dealers that you like, you can pay their locations a visit. Marine Industry has a database of certified dealers that you may also want to check out.

Record Your Thoughts on Potential Boat Options

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re looking at boats, especially if you’re a bit new at this. To make sure you can properly evaluate the boats you look at, bring a notepad to record what you like and dislike about each one. Otherwise, you may get home and forget certain things.

Another option is to record a video on your cell phone when you check out each boat, which is nice if you don’t want to write all your thoughts down. Whichever method you choose, use your logs to compare the boats you’ve seen and decide on one that best fits what you want.

Get Your Financing Ready in Advance

It’s best to handle as much on the financial side of things as you can in advance, instead of waiting until you’ve found a boat you love to get a boat loan. Before you go boat shopping, figure out what your budget is, make sure your credit score and income are sufficient for a boat loan, and visit a few lenders to see what kind of terms they can offer you.

Just about any lender can preapprove you for a loan and provide loan terms with only basic information and a soft credit check, which is the credit check that doesn’t affect your credit score. 

Compare your options to choose the loan that will cost you the least in interest. Used-boat financing is typically easier than financing a new boat, so if you’re having trouble, that’s a route you can consider. 

The process of buying a boat can be stressful, but just remember that this should be an exciting purchase for you. Get the financial part taken care of, and then enjoy the process of finding your boat.

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