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Whatever the type of boat you are buying, be it a dinghy or a super yacht, the same general rules apply. Follow these principles and you can buy your boat with confidence.
After you've decided what type of boat to buy, the next step is to decide whether you want to buy a new or used boat.
Buying a new boat from a dealer will avoid many of the difficulties that are associated with buying a used boat. For example, new boats will come with a warranty and you'll have more confidence that the boat you are buying has not previously been stolen. The down-sides to buying a new boat, however are that the initial cost is much higher, the value will depreciate rapidly and new boats are generally less well equipped than used boats.
If you choose to opt for a new boat, you can often save money by buying around the end of July, just before new models come out. At this time, many dealers will lower their prices to clear out old stock making way for the new. Of course your boat may not be the newest model for very long if you go down this route.
If you're undecided on the make and model of boat, then visiting boat shows is an excellent way to compare several types. A boat show may also allow you to haggle the best deal from a selection of rival dealers.
If you'd prefer to save some money and buy a boat whose value will not drop so sharply, then buying a used boat is the sensible choice to make. The rest of this article is devoted to tips on buying used boats.
If you are buying a used boat from a private seller, it will generally come with no warranty, so you need to check it out carefully to avoid making an expensive mistake. Many brokers and dealers sell used boats as well as new, and may offer a limited warranty. Whilst this may provide some peace of mind, the broker/dealer needs to make a commission on the sale and this will be reflected in a higher price than if the boat was being sold privately.
Before you even inspect the boat there are a few checks that you can make to ensure you don't waste your valuable time and effort:
Is it a highly regarded brand? Are they still trading? If not, it may prove difficult to obtain replacement parts when needed.
This question can give you some clues as to how well the boat has been looked after before you even see it. If the boat is a repossession, it may indicate that the boat has not been looked after; if the owner didn't keep up payments to the financer, then he may have shown the same lack of care for the maintenance of the boat (of course this is a generalisation).
If the boat is being sold because the owner is moving up to a larger boat, then this might indicate that the owner is a real boating enthusiast, and thus may have taken greater care in the upkeep of the boat.
If the reason for selling is that there's a problem with the boat, then be aware that if you buy that boat, you will be the new owner of that problem!
This should list all services, repair, and oil changes. If it's missing, it can be hard to tell how well the boat has been looked after.
For example, navigation, lights, winches etc. If not present, you will have to buy that equipment separately, so build that into your budget.
The purpose that the boat has been used for may have an effect on its condition. For example, boats that are used mainly for fishing tend to run up a large number of engine hours.
The next step is to arrange a viewing. This is a vital part of the buying process; it enables you to see what you are getting before you part with any money.
It is recommended that you use a surveyor to carry out a detailed inspection of the boat. You may want to be present at the survey so that you can ask questions.
At the moment, anyone can call themselves a marine surveyor, so it is important to make sure that yours is accredited by the relevant authority (see the list at the end of this article).
Using a surveyor will give you peace of mind, and your finance company and insurance company may insist upon it. You should never rely on an old survey - new problems may have occurred since it was carried out.
If you are experienced and confident enough, you may be able to perform an inspection yourself. Here are some things to look out for:
If you don't know a lot about engines it would be best to get a mechanic to look over the engine for you.
If everything is up to your standards, it's time to take the boat for a test drive.
Before you start the engine, you should check to make sure if the engine is already warm; if the engine has trouble starting or smokes a lot when cold, the seller may have warmed-up the engine prior to your arrival to disguise such problems.
You should check the bilges, both at the start and end of the trial; you're looking for any evidence of an oil leak.
See how the boat performs when moving around. Is the steering responsive? Experiment with hitting waves from different angles, looking for excessive pitch or roll. Try out these factors whilst above and below deck.
Test that all the instruments are working correctly, and run the engine for long enough to see if it'll overheat.
If you're trialling a sailing boat, put the sails up, and see how she manoeuvres under wind power alone. Try out different points of sale. Examine the mast and rigging under load.
If the boat does not pass on any of your tests, you do not necessarily need to rule it out, as long as you are willing to put some time (and money) into putting things right. Any imperfections can be used as bargaining tools to try to negotiate a lower price.
If you decide to purchase the boat, it is best to get everything put down in writing in a Sales Agreement. This should state the terms and amount of payment, and detail any pre-sale repairs that have been agreed on - making clear who is responsible for carrying them out and paying for them. It should also list which accessories are included and the delivery and payment dates.
There are a few things to watch out for to make sure you are not the victim of fraud when you buy a boat:
Check internet lists of stolen boats to make sure that the boat you are buying is not listed on any of them. Here is a selection of such web sites:
TheYachtMarket.com Limited is not responsible for the content of external web sites.
It is important to check that you are not paying "over the odds" when buying your boat. Here are some useful sources of boat price information:
Remember, if you are enlisting the services of a surveyor, make sure that they are accredited by a well known authority. Some examples are listed below:
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