A Complete Buyer’s Guide: 10 Fool-Proof Tips to Buy a Boat

Guide to Buying a Boat

The warm sun on your skin, the smell of the sea, the wind in your hair, the sound of water melodiously lapping around you ...  

Isn’t this the best way to spend your summer holidays?

Owning a private yacht is your best bet to enjoy such days whenever you want!

If you're looking for used or new boats for sale, it helps to know the essentials you need to consider to make an informed investment decision. Read on to learn about a few things you should keep in mind when buying a yacht.

10 Crucial Tips to Buy a New or Used Boat

Know Your Boat

When you plan to look at boats for sale, it helps to know about the various types so you can compare the options and determine which one meets your needs.

Here are some of the popular boats to give you an idea:

  • Bass Boat: It's a small boat used for fishing “bass” and other types of panfish usually found near freshwater sources. These are generally lake fishing boats.
  • Bowrider: A bowrider is often a family favorite. Infamous for its open bow, this boat has traditional seating in the back and extra forward seating in the bow.
  • Center Console: The center console gets its name because its steering station (console) is in the middle. Another unique feature is that you can circle the boat because of the console. Fishing enthusiasts prefer this boat, especially those interested in sports fishing in offshore waters.
  • Cuddy Cabin: Whether you're a cruising, sailing or fishing enthusiast, this boat covers all the bases. It's another family-friendly option with a small enclosure below the deck that offers a perfect opportunity to unwind and relax. It's also the best choice for overnight stays.
  • Cruiser: This vessel typically ranges from 7.7 to 13.7 meters. It's almost similar to an RV but meant for the water. It has a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and more. It provides comfortable accommodation and the benefits of a yacht on a smaller scale and without the crew. 
  • Performance: This boat is ideal for thrill-seekers. But it's not just a sleek design and robust performance. These boats also have room for accommodation below the deck and have additional seating.
  • Pontoon: These flat boats are famous for their spacious interiors. They rely on the floats (long metal tubes) to remain buoyant and come with additional deck areas and features like stand-up bars, lounge chairs, sun pads and more. Pontoon boats offer lots of storage space for things like anchors, dock lines and boat fenders. You'll want to review the different options when considering a pontoon boat.
  • Yacht: These are luxurious vessels typically used for cruising, racing and leisure. They're great for traveling with family and friends. You can find used and new yachts for sale in various sizes. 

The Purpose of Buying a Boat

Now that you know the different types of boats, the next question to ask yourself is, “what will I use the boat for?” Is it for leisure and entertainment or fishing? Are you more into watersports or want to sail and relax? Do you intend to use it as a party boat or to spend time relaxing with your family and friends? Do you want to put it on a boat trailer?

All these questions will help you narrow down your choices and make a wise investment. 

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 Exterior Cleaning Kit

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How Much Time Will You Invest?

Buying a boat requires a significant investment. Before making a final decision, consider the recurring vessel's maintenance costs and how much time you'll spend boating and realistically be able to devote to its maintenance.

New or Pre-Owned: What’s Your Pick?

Buying a brand new boat or getting a pre-owned one is a decision you'll have to make depending on your financial situation. Buying a new one is a safer option because you'll have the advantage of a warranty and may not have to pay for frequent repairs.

Pre-owned boats could be the solution to avoid high upfront prices. But there are a few things that you need to check before getting a pre-used one, like engines, leaks, rots, electrical systems and more.

The ideal way to ensure you get the best deal is to work with a reputable brokerage. They can help you find the perfect vessel that fits your budget and needs.

How Will You Finance It?

Whether used or brand new, buying a boat requires substantial investment. It helps to know that financing a boat is faster than people assume.

There are multiple routes you can take to finance your boat:

  • Getting a loan from a bank
  • Working with marine lenders who specialize in marine financing
  • Financing the transaction through a yacht broker or boat dealer

Most people tend to go through their boat dealers as they have plenty of experience obtaining boat loans. Whichever option you choose, ensure you have a smooth process for the best stress-free results. 


Your boat is a significant investment, and you need reliable insurance coverage to protect it regardless of which payment method you choose. It helps to know that you may need a specialist in marine boat insurance

A few things to consider while determining your coverage and premiums are:

  • The vessel's age
  • Purchase price
  • Size
  • Specific features

Yacht Storage and Marina

Where will you keep your boat? Will you keep it in a trailer, or do you want to keep it docked in a home port marina? 

You must keep in mind that the bigger the vessel, the bigger the storage space it'll consume. You may consider getting a trailer because it has many benefits, including exploring different waterways.

However, you may require legal permission to move it from one place to another or purchase a slip similar to a parking permit if you intend to keep it in the marina.

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 Silicone Squeegee

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Buying a Boat

There are multiple places from where you can purchase your boat.

  • From a Boat Dealership or Brokerage: There are certain benefits to purchasing a used or new boat for sale with a boat dealership. They can help you with various aspects, such as finding the perfect vessel, customizations, getting a loan, and more. Brokerages have a strong network and excellent ties with specific brands. Therefore, they act as an intermediary between you and the yacht manufacturer.
  • From a Boat Show: Boat shows have one purpose: selling boats. You can get great deals on new and used boats on sale. Since most options are available through dealerships, you may get discounted rates. If you intend to buy a vessel from a boat show, it's beneficial to act swiftly. However, you need to consider the pros and cons and make a suitable decision. 
  • Straight from the Manufacturer: Most yacht builders prefer selling their vessels through a brokerage. However, some smaller-scale manufacturers who do not have national dealerships may sell their products directly to the consumer. It's wise to check whether it is  NMMA-certified and meets the U.S. Coast Guard minimums and the American Boat & Yacht Council standards.


Before purchasing, ensure your vessel is safe for the sea, especially if you're looking at used boats for sale. After you take a walk around, go for a sea trial.

Play the role of both a passenger and driver and see whether it's up to standards. If you're inexperienced, hire a marine surveyor to look for defects or troubleshooting areas.

Warning Signs

If there are any of the following warning signs when buying a boat, avoid buying or consult with a professional:

  • Musty and moldy interiors are a huge red flag for buying any boat. They indicate poor maintenance.
  • Dirty and chaotic presentations could be another cause of concern. 
  • Evidence of deck leaks often indicates a low quality of materials.
  • The gap between the front of the keel and hull, depression in the hull at the aft end of the keel, damage on the leech of sails and spongy decks could be causes of concern.

The Bottom Line

Purchasing a boat may seem intimidating, but in reality, your dream boat is just a few steps away. A well-informed decision can make this purchase one of the best investments for you.

Adhere to the tips and make the right purchase with a reliable boat broker to enjoy your time on the water.

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