Buy and Borrow

What to Consider Before Buying a Boat

Erin Palmer

July 08, 2022

People on a boat

There is nothing quite as fun and refreshing as a day out on the water. Buying a boat gives you endless opportunities for making memories. But before you can set off on your sea adventure, there are some things you need to know. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

budgeting

Build Your Boat Budget

For any major purchase, start with a budget. Keep in mind that your budget should go beyond the initial purchase and into the additional costs you’ll need once you have the boat. This will help you create a realistic budget. Some of the additional costs that you should include in your budget are boat maintenance, fuel, insurance, storage, and docking and marina fees. All of these considerations will also help to narrow down the options for the best boat to fit your needs.
Person has no idea what to buy

Decide What Kind of Boat to Buy

After you have a general budget in mind, it’s time to decide what kind of boat is right for you. First, think of how you plan to use your boat. Will you be fishing or spending time with the family? Are you looking for zippy adventure or cruising relaxation? Which bodies of water will you frequent? Thinking about these questions in addition to your budget will help narrow down your boat options. You can also decide if you want a new or used boat. Some lenders, like Suncoast Credit Union, offer the same rate on new and used vessels.
Preapproval

Get Pre-approved Before Boat Shopping

When your budget is built and you have an idea of type of boat you want, it’s time to get pre-approved for your boat loan. Pre-approval is always a smart move, because it makes the shopping experience so much easier. Once you’re pre-approved for your boat loan, you’ll have more negotiating power when you’re ready to make your purchase, because you already know exactly what you have to spend. You also won’t run the risk of being upsold on something you may not be able to afford.
Boat on the water

Plan Your Sea Trial

Just like you test drive a car before buying it, an important part of the boat buying process is the sea trial. You’ll want your sea trial to be similar to a typical day you would spend on the water so you can get a real feel for the environment. Take time to drive the boat and be the passenger. Put the boat through some performance tests too. Take a hard turn, test rougher conditions if possible. Go toward and away from the sun to see how glare and reflections impact the experience. Keep your particular plans for your boat in mind so you can ask the right questions to the seller. You can learn what you need to know to make your final choice on whether it’s the right boat for you.

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