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Many people wonder when is the best time of year to buy a boat. The answer is up for speculation, as anytime can be a good time if you have thought things through. Buying a boat can be a significant and expensive investment. There are a lot of responsibilities for owning a boat that people neglect to think about first. But owning a boat is also a lot of fun. Keep reading as we explain the financial aspect of being a boat owner.

When is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Boat?

You can buy a boat in the spring or summer, but you will pay more for it. The optimal time to buy a boat is fall or winter. Most boat dealers begin to sell their stock at discount prices in September or October. What this means is you’ll be able to get a good deal on a newer boat. Dealers are trying to clear out room for new models, and they’re in a rush to get the most profit before the end of the year.

If you’re buying used, many owners prefer to sell in the fall and winter, as they are done using their boats during the prime season. There are different reasons owners decide to sell their watercraft, and most of the time, those reasons will work in your favor. Owners are more willing to negotiate the price when they face the costs of having to store a boat for an extended time. And if they’re not on the water, as they would be in the spring and summer, they’ll have less resistance to parting with their fun toy – for a reasonable price, of course.

Winter is also an excellent time to purchase boats. This time of year is rife with boating shows and conventions. Vendors are eager to show off their new show models and to get rid of their old products so they have more room for the new. Which means you can often get a bargain of a deal compared to what you would spend a few months later. 

These shows also give you the chance to look at a variety of options and learn about different features. If you’re new to boating, this might be a good option for you; even if you decide not to buy a boat from a dealer. You should never rush into a purchase. Take your time and consider all the different choices available. Compare prices. Buying a boat is a substantial investment, so you want to make sure you pick the right one. Otherwise, you could be stuck with a toy that you don’t enjoy. As well as a financial burden you can’t afford.

Is Buying a Boat a Good Investment?

If you’re interested in buying a boat, the first thing you want to do is consider your finances. Most people don’t think about all the expenses that go into having their watercraft. Trust me when I say that the purchase price will be the least of your costs in the long run. A great tip is only to purchase a boat you can pay for in cash.

When you finance a boat, you’ll lose money in the long run. If you decide to sell, which most boat owners end up doing, there’s a slim chance you’ll be able to break even, let alone make a profit. This issue is because you pay more in interest than you will for the boat. However, purchasing a boat can be a good investment, even if it isn’t a financial one. 

Boats depreciate much like vehicles. The value immediately drops the moment you sign your name on that dotted line. Because there’s a big chance that you’ll lose money on your purchase, you’ll want to pick a boat that fits all your needs. By doing this, you’ll be motivated to keep it longer, therefore getting your money’s worth. 

However, financially, there are two reasons why buying a boat could be considered a bad investment. First of all, they’re expensive. The money you spend to buy the boat is only a small portion of the cost of being a boat owner. Other costs that a majority of people don’t factor into their decision to buy a boat are:

  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Registration
  • Licensing
  • Storage fees
  • Maintenance
  • Recurring costs of using the boat, such as gas, oil, food, etc. 

The second reason is depreciation. As mentioned, the value of your boat declines the second you take ownership. If you’re financing a boat and decide to sell later, you’ll only be able to sell for the value of the boat – not what you paid for it. That often means you’ll lose money. And the sad truth is that a high percentage of boat owners sell within their first year. The typical reasons for this are that they didn’t consider the costs of owning a boat. Or they don’t use their watercraft as often as they expected. 

Is Summer a Good Time to Buy a Boat?

Summer and spring are the worst times to buy a boat. The demand for boats is higher when it’s warm because everyone wants to enjoy being on the water. This demand makes prices escalate. The same boat that’s out of your price range right now will be marked down in just a few months. It’s better to shop in the offseason. 

Purchasing a boat in the offseason also allows you plenty of time to have things set up the way you want it. Whether it’s installing a new audio system or motor, or mounting fishing rod holders, it’s easier to do these when you’re not in a rush. By holding off until the summer to buy a boat, you could end up missing out on time on the water because you’re working on your vessel.

Another problem with waiting until summer to buy a boat is that there will be less selection. If everyone is looking for a boat, all the good ones that are a reasonable price could be gone. You might be left shopping among ones that need work or are too expensive. When the demand goes down, you’ll be able to find a decent boat for a fraction of the cost you would spend in the summer. 

How Fast Can I Sell a Boat?

There is no exact timeline for how quick you can sell your boat. Some people can close the deal in a few weeks or months, while other people may be stuck with their watercraft on the market for years. There are ways to increase your chances of selling your boat faster. The first thing you’ll want to do is sell at the right time. Consider putting your boat on the market in the fall. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t get much interest.

You could also wait until spring to list your boat – although this does mean having to worry about winterizing your boat and storing it during the off months. Springtime is an excellent time to list your boat as more people are looking for a play toy for the summertime. And if you time it right, you can drum up enough interest around tax time that people come to you looking to spend their hard-earned tax refunds. 

Before you list your boat, make sure you’ve got a fair price in mind. It’s not uncommon for people to expect more than the boat is worth. The reasons could be the upgrades they’ve done, to recover some of the financial loss they’ll face, or sentimental value. To avoid these pitfalls, do research. Figure out the average price that other owners in your area set. Compare them to yours. A few things to note are:

  • Features (depth finder, size of the motor, sound system, GPS, et Cetra)
  • Engine hours
  • Trailer included
  • Painted bottom

You can also check your boat against websites like Yachtworld, Boat Trader, or Boats.com. Or call a local marine broker and talk to them. Tell them about your vessel and ask them what they would sell it as if they were listing it. Also, ask for recommendations on where would be the best place to list your boat for sale. 

Now that you’ve got your price set, it’s time to prepare your boat for selling. You want buyers to be impressed when they see the product. If you show a watercraft that shows wear and tear, you’ll lose potential buyers. Or they’ll proposition you with a price far lower than you’re asking. Both of these could lead you to hold on to your boat a lot longer than you planned. 

Ensure that there is no damaged paint or interior. Wash and wax the boat and cover it with a tarp if you’re storing it outside. Vacuum the inside and remove all personal items. Make sure that the motor is in working order. You don’t want to brag on how great the engine runs if you can’t even get it to start up on the first try. Use an odorizer if you have a terrible smell, which boats can have if they’re used frequently and not properly cleaned. The better your boat looks, the more interested buyers will be. 

Do Boat Prices Go Down in Fall and Winter?

The price of a boat will be lower in the fall and winter than it will be in spring and summer. This phenomenon is due to demand. In the spring, people are looking for boats so they can be ready to go once the boating season is here. And in the summer, a lot of people suddenly want a watercraft so they can partake in summertime activities.

But by the fall, people aren’t as interested in purchasing boats. Unless you’re a duck hunter, in which case, the right vessel could be an essential part of your hunting experience. Regardless, the peak season is now over. Dealers begin to slash prices and are more willing to negotiate price as an effort to continue making money now that the interest in buying a boat has waned. 

If you start looking at boats at a dealership in the fall or winter but change your mind about buying one, come spring, that same boat you were considering is now going to be marked up 7.5 to 18%. By shopping in the fall or winter, you’ll have more choices, and you’ll pay less – for new or used boats. Not to mention, a lot of people decide to sell their vessels to help offset the costs of Christmas. Or because they will be purchasing a new one come springtime. Save yourself money by shopping around in the offseason.

Buy a Boat in the Right Season to Get the Best Deal

As you can see, the best time to buy a boat is when the temperature has turned colder. Fewer people will be interested in boating, which gives you more selection. And because there aren’t as many people shopping, prices will go down so that dealers can make room for new inventory. Don’t be afraid to try negotiating the price. The worst that could happen is they say no.