WONDER JUST HOW POPULAR BOATING IS? In the United States, one in three American adults participates in boating every year. That translates to a lot of boats, and a lot of peo- ple buying boats. In fact, 1. 5 million of us buy a new or used boat every year. Whether you’re a first-timer or an old salt,
there are things you can do to ensure that your next purchase goes off without
a hitch. BoatU.S. Consumer Protection has been helping BoatU.S. members navigate the sometimes choppy waters of boat buying for more than 40 years and
can guide you through finding a boat, warranties, service contracts, inspections,
financing, insurance, and the necessary paperwork to make it all legal. If you’re
in the market for a new boat (and who isn’t?), here’s what you need to know.
THE BOAT-BUYER’S TOOLBOX
When it’s time to buy a boat, you’ll need all the tools available to score a great deal
SHOPPING FOR A BOAT: Once you’ve
decided on how much you can spend, you
get to dive into the fun part, actually searching for your dreamboat. New-boat buyers will
want to find a dealer for the brand they’re
shopping for in their area. Ask around and
do some research to find a quality dealer.
New boats come with manufacturer warranties that vary widely in their coverage,
so compare them before you buy. Look for
multiyear warranties for hull and engines.
Find out whether the warranties transfer to
subsequent owners, which can add substantial resale value. One advantage of buying
from dealers is that they can also take trade-ins, but keep in mind that as with cars, you
won’t get top dollar because dealers have to
make a profit on reselling your boat. Selling
it yourself will usually bring in more money.
Used-boat buyers have a couple of choices. Larger boats are often sold by boat
brokers, who operate like real-estate agents.
Buyers can hire a broker to help them find
a boat, and the commission is usually split
with the seller’s broker, so there’s no cost
to the buyer. Smaller boats can be found
online at such sites as eBay and craigslist, but
remember that these offerings carry the risk
of fraud. There are many unscrupulous “
sellers” who’d like to separate you from your
money. Be wary of sellers who insist on using
a specific online escrow service – it may not
be legit. Ask to see ownership documents to
verify that the seller really owns the boat. If
the boat isn’t local, hire a marine surveyor
in the area, or have someone you trust verify
that there really is a boat and that the seller
has the title and registration.
MARINE SURVEYS: Too many complaints
to Consumer Protection start with “The
PROTECTION BoatU.S. HAS YOUR BACK BY CHARLES FORT