By Bruce Claflin, Scuttlebutt Magazine
People always ask me “When is the best time to buy a boat?” I always respond the same way, “Today!” That’s because there’s nothing quite as much fun as getting a new boat, whether it’s brand new off the floor of the dealer or Boat Show, or a boat that has been used with care and is just new to you. It’s a blast, but let’s look at the process of shopping and ultimately purchasing the boat of your dreams.
To best begin the process you should develop an idea of what you want to do on the water, and what type of boat will fit your lifestyle and your budget. Family activities like skiing, wakeboarding, tubing? Entertaining friends on lazy cruises and sunset outings? Isolate your goals for use to determine the type of boat that will best serve those ends. Once you have decided the type of vessel you want, it is time to begin the process of becoming familiar with the best brands and features available. This will undoubtedly lead you to an online resource like the websites of established and trustworthy dealers and boat brokers. Looking online is great, but a trip to a dealership or a Boat Show will give you access to answers from experts who can educate you on the advantages and disadvantages based on your design of use. You’ll also have an opportunity to put the family on board and read their reactions.
Now every great transaction has to have a few things going for it to make it right. Motivated buyer must find motivated seller, purchase price must be agreeable to both parties (and maybe a lender) and the timing must be right. Timing as a necessary function does not always represent itself as a time of year, but moreover as a place where a seller arrives as motivated.
Discover Boating (www.discoverboating.com) is a public awareness effort managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on behalf of the North American recreational boating industry. Discover Boating programs focus on increasing participation and creating interest in recreational boating. They had this to say in their article titled ”New Year, New Boat”:
- Do your homework. Before attending a local boat show, a little research can go a long way. Spend time on DiscoverBoating.com to identify the different types of boats that fit your budget and lifestyle — try the boat selector and loan calculator tools. There’s even a boat show finder to locate a boat show in your area.
- Warm up with hot deals. Hundreds of new models are available to buy on the show floor at some of the best prices of the year. Exhibitors generally offer special show pricing or other incentives at shows. Plus, it’s the perfect time to order a new boat to ensure it arrives ready to launch in spring.
- Develop your nautical know-how. Boat shows are a great place for beginners to learn about the boat buying process as well as the boating lifestyle. Many provide boater education seminars and hands-on training, as well as displays of boats that can be financed for $250 a month or less.
- Get your feet wet. Boat shows bring the great outdoors indoors in the middle of winter. Participate in an array of activities (often at no additional cost) including fishing for kids, paddlesports, seminars, antique boats and more. Take the opportunity to meet other boaters, as many make their local boat show a winter rendezvous.
- Look for the seal of approval. Look for boats marked NMMA Certified, as they have met strict industry product quality standards. Also look for Marine Industry Certified Dealers — boat retailers who have made a commitment to top-quality buying and maintenance experiences.
While these remarks apply mainly to attending Boat Shows, they can also easily be applied to attending any dealer’s show floor. Also, many boat dealers offer ‘Open House’ events throughout the winter months where you can shop for your dream boat in a heated showroom.
Scanning the pages of your local newspaper or your favorite Boating publication (Scuttlebutt), can also help you identify Dealer open houses and shows in your area. Statistics suggest that nearly 65% of consumers find these shows through print ads. So keep reading here, and best of luck to you in finding the very best boat for you and your family.