How to Buy an Out of State Boat in the USA

Thanks to the impressive search tools, listing platforms, and communication potential of the internet, the world of buying and selling boats has changed dramatically over the past decade. With help from TheYachtMarket and other online brokers, you can buy a new or used yacht or other marine vessel almost anywhere in the world.

However, buying a boat in another state can also be problematic, for three main reasons:

  • Regulations. Different states may have different restrictions on how the transaction must be managed.
  • Risks. If you’re buying a boat out of state, you may have a harder time viewing and inspecting it before you buy it.
  • Transportation. You’ll need some way to get this boat back to your state, which could be difficult.

Fortunately, you can follow these strategies to successfully buy an out of state boat.

Why Buy an Out of State Boat?

With these complications, why would you consider buying an out of state boat in the first place?

Most people choose to look for out of state boats for two reasons:

  • Availability/selection. If you look at the boats available all across the country, you’ll have far more vessels to choose from than if you only look at boats in your own state. If you’re looking for something specific, or if you’re notoriously picky, looking at boats in another state may be your only practical option.
  • Price. In some cases, looking at boats in other states can help you find a better deal, saving you money. Of course, you’ll also need to consider the increased costs associated with buying a boat in another state, like travel and shipping.

Now let’s look at the process you should use to buy an out of state boat effectively.

Scrutinize the Deal

After finding a promising boat, you’ll want to spend some time online scrutinizing the deal. If this person is selling their boat nationwide, you should be asking yourself why they weren’t able to find a buyer quickly in their local area. If the price is very attractive, you should be asking yourself why. In some cases, sellers are motivated to lower a price or expand their range of buyers to sell the boat faster, but in other cases, the boat could have a massive flaw, or the seller could be unscrupulous.

Use a trustworthy third-party like NADA to help you understand the “true” value of the boat you’re looking at, especially if it’s used. This will help you understand the market value. You’ll also want to thoroughly review the images and/or video provided for this sale. If images are missing, it’s a bad sign.

Reach Out

If the deal looks good, your next step will be reaching out to the seller. This is your opportunity to ask critical questions, including:

  • Do you have more images of this vessel?
  • Is this vessel currently registered (and/or titled) in your name?
  • Do you have access to this paperwork?
  • Do you have previous service and/or maintenance records for the vessel?
  • Does this vessel have all-original parts?
  • Do you still owe any finance on this boat?
  • What are the identification numbers for the boat, motor, and trailer?

Make sure you ask about anything else you want to know about this boat.

Beyond that, get a feel for the seller. Do they seem friendly, straightforward, and responsive? Or are they hard to reach and opaque with their answers? The more open and easy they are to communicate with, the better.

If you feel confident with this seller, you’ll want to move forward with making arrangements. Figure out whether they’re going to ship the vessel or whether you’re going to pick it up yourself. Get photos and copies of the relevant documents, and set a time and day when you can pick the boat up. Alternatively, you can work with a third-party shipping provider to pick up and deliver the boat to you; be prepared for additional costs if you do this.

Protect Your Purchase

At this point, you’ll want to take some extra measures to protect yourself and your purchase. For starters, don’t send any money to anyone until you’ve met the seller in person and/or have inspected the boat. Too many people fall for Craigslist scams and other deliberate attempts to get their money; they send money to a presumed seller only to find out the boat never really existed.

Instead, wait to provide payment until you’re confident in the deal, with the paperwork ready for transfer and the boat ready for pickup. Ideally, you’ll have the chance to inspect and review the vessel before you finalize the transaction; this way, if there are any hidden critical flaws, you’ll be able to identify them before it’s too late.

Additionally, you may want to purchase insurance for the vessel; if you’re transporting it from the seller to your home, it may or may not be covered by your current insurance policies. You don’t want to suffer a catastrophic financial loss due to an accident on the way home.

Finalize the Transaction

If you’re prepared to protect yourself and your purchase, you’ll be ready to finalize the transaction. When you meet in person (assuming you meet in person), give the vessel a final inspection, review all the paperwork to make sure everything’s in order, and send payment in a secure way that affords you some level of buyer protection.

Then, make sure you have the paperwork ready to provide to a law officer if you’re stopped when transporting. Make sure the boat is attached to a trailer properly, and double check every connection to ensure its reliability. When you’re absolutely confident, you can begin the long drive home.

Every out of state purchase begins with finding the right deal online. Make use of TheYachtMarket’s wide selection of used boats and yachts from around the country. You can filter by manufacturer, state, fuel type, keel type, price, length and more to find the perfect selection—and work out a deal that fits within your budget.

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