Boat Buying for First Timers: 5 Important Tips

Boats on the docks

You don’t have to be very rich to be able to afford a boat. If you’re considering buying a vessel to use come summer or for your next water adventure, know that there are plenty of types that you can actually buy and maintain.

The kind of boat you buy will depend mostly on your activities and lifestyle. You might want to check out the likes of aluminum fishing boats, which are more like the regular models, or the rather fancier-looking pontoon boats for sale if you’re looking for something a little bigger. Michigan is home to some of the most spectacular lakes, so you will have plenty of destinations to explore.
Here are some tips you can consider if you’re first time buying a boat:

1. Decide on the type of boat you want

  • The most important questions to ask in order to make this decision are:
  • What are you going to use the boat for?
  • How big of a boat are you eyeing (and do you need a big boat)?
  • Will you really have the time to enjoy your boat?
  • Where will you be storing it?
  • How will it be powered?

If you don’t have the time to go boating often but do enjoy the experience, you can probably just rent a boat when needed instead of buying. If budget is a concern, you might want to start with a used boat before investing in a brand new one.

2. Visit a boat show, so you can see the models up close

Boat shows open up a wide variety of options and will help you make a choice based on what you actually see and feel. This will allow you to board the units yourself, so you can have a better gauge of how it would feel once you have it.

3. Choose the right dealer

The search for the right boat also means interviewing the dealer and finding out everything you can about its workmanship and quality of service. Don’t hesitate to ask the hard questions. Boats aren’t cheap, so be sure you’re dealing only with reputable sellers.

4. Consider certifications and warranties

Warranties are very important and should be a major factor in your decision. Find out what features and services are covered by the warranty and for how long. Ask if it is transferrable, in case you want to sell your unit in the future.

5. Ask if you can test drive or try it out before you buy

Test driving a boat in the open sea
Board as many boats as you can before deciding on that one unit. Better yet, hire a marine surveyor who can help you assess the entirety of the boat and point out flaws, potential problem areas, and other issues that can help drive your costs down and place you at a better negotiating position.

There is no limit to how long you can keep comparing models and shopping around. A boat requires a considerable investment, so you should be sure that you are getting your money’s worth. Some take an hour, others take weeks or months, while others take years to find that one perfect vessel. The right time to buy is when you are financially ready.

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