The Beginner’s Guide to Boat Shopping – Part 2

Commercial Boat Finance Options

Part 2: Boat Brokers Vs Private Sellers – the pros & cons

If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here

As with buying a car, there are positives and negatives for buying a boat from private sellers and boat broker/boat dealerships.

What you need to work out is what’s your budget and the type of boat you’re after.

While you can check out both boat brokers and private sales when you’re shopping around, the considerations for each are so different it can be hard to accurately compare the boats you like.

It’s easier if you can decide in advance which one you’re going to shop through.

To help you make this decision we’ve listed the major pros and cons for both private boat sellers and registered boat dealers.

Pros of using a Boat Broker or Dealer

Experience – This is what they do, so naturally, they’re going to be fairly good at it. A good boat broker should be able to help you find the right boat to suit you, your experience, and what you want it for.

Boat range – While you’re likely to see a number of different boat brokers, each one should have an extensive range in their boat yard. This gives you more options without the need to drive all over town checking out one-off private sales.

Paperwork – Registered boat brokers know all the necessary paperwork for change of ownership and registration, providing you with all the forms you need to make the sale legal.

Sea trial – Through a broker, you should get the opportunity to test the boats you’re interested in out on the open seas (or lakes/rivers for smaller boats). This gives you a really good idea of how suited the vessel is for you.

Reputation – You can ask around and check reviews to see what the reputation is like for a broker or boat dealer. Do they charge too much? They may have a history of good service and quality boats. They also have to maintain that good reputation so you can usually expect that you’re going to get treated reasonably well.

Warranty – Boat dealerships will often have some form of warranty on the boats they sell, guaranteeing their quality or at least promising necessary repairs within a certain time frame.

Cons of using a Boat Broker

Price – Buying through a boat broker or dealership will always end up being more expensive on the outright. Brokers work on a commission and they have to make a profit on every vessel to keep their business running.

Not their boat – While a Boat Dealer may know the type of boats they have, they don’t have personal experience with that vessel. They may have gone out on it once or twice but not enough to tell you just how it handles. You have to figure that out yourself.

Pros of Private Sale Boats

Price – With no commissions, a private seller is usually just trying to get what the boat is worth, perhaps a little bit more.

Eager to sell – A private seller will often be in a hurry to sell, either to use the money for a new boat or for other personal reasons. This gives you an edge with haggling, particularly if you’ve organised a pre-approved loan. You’d be surprised how much you can save simply by saying “this is what I can give you today.”

Personal experience – For some time this was their boat, their pride and joy. They can tell you how it handles in rough seas, how many people you can comfortably have on board (comfortable is often less than max capacity) and a range of other personal points a dealer just won’t know about.

Cons of Private Sale Boats

Time – If you’re checking out all the suitable boats you can find from private sales you’ll be doing a lot of running around. While boat brokers and dealerships are often in a particular area, private sales can take you to marinas and houses all over town.

Knowledge – You’ll need to know a lot about the boat you want and the potential problems to look for. If you don’t have much experience with boats, their problems or repairs then you should at least bring along a friend that does.

Paperwork –You’ll need to make sure you do all the correct change of ownership forms yourself and also any necessary history checks.

No reputation – You’re buying from a stranger. Because private sales are usually one-offs there’s no customer feedback and no way to know if they have a history of ripping people off.

That should give you some idea of where you want to be shopping for your new boat.

Once you’ve decided on either boat dealers or private sales you can start shopping around for what’s available. This is the fun part where you get to plan a day of checking out all the boats that might become your new ticket to the open water.

Part 3 covers what to look for when you’re inspecting a boat for sale.