Buying a boat can be your perfect entry point to a fun, rewarding hobby. And thanks to the availability of online boat marketplaces, it’s possible to buy boats of all varieties, from all over the world, to serve your needs.
But how can you make sure you’re getting the best deal online?
Do Your Research Online and Offline
Before you commit to an online purchase, it’s important that you put time into researching your decision both online and offline. Online, you can discover the many types of boats that are available, and the price ranges you might encounter for new models in each category. Offline, you can attend boat shows and see how these boats look in person.
As a result of your research, you should have a better understanding of the type of boat you’re looking for, and what a “fair” price for that boat would be.
Choose the Right Online Platform
Next, choose the right online platform to manage your transaction.
Consider things like:
- Access and inventory. How many boats are available on this platform? For most purchases, the more robust the selection is, the better. Look for a vendor that sells vessels all over the world, and one that includes a wide variety of different types of boats. After a cursory look through their listings, do you feel confident that you could find something you like here?
- Information availability. How much information is available to consumers on this platform? Do you have access to information about specific models? Are you able to view specific information on sellers on the platform?
- Transaction management. How does this platform opt to manage transactions? Are you required to make a down payment or provide earnest money? Is your money held in escrow? Will you be able to complete the transaction in person, after you have a chance to see the boat?
- Online reviews and reputation. You can also tell a lot about an online platform based on the quality of its online reviews—and the reputation it seems to have in common boating forums.
Investigate the Model
As you would with any boat purchase, try to learn more about the specific model you’re viewing before you proceed with the transaction. What kind of reputation does this manufacturer have? Are there common issues experienced by owners of this specific model? What would previous owners of this model have you know before buying? This is especially important if you’re buying a used vehicle.
Open a Dialogue
If you like what you see, open a dialogue with the seller you’ve found on this platform. Ask them any questions you have about the vessel, including its current condition. At this point, consider the attitude and disposition of the seller; are they easy to talk to? Do they seem open and willing to answer your questions? Or do they seem dodgy and hard to communicate with?
Inspect the Vessel in Person
No matter what, you’ll want to have the vessel professionally inspected before you finalize the transaction. Paying for a formal marine survey can bring your attention to structural or performance issues you may not otherwise notice—and can help you buy in confidence.
Complete the Transaction
At this point, you’ll be ready to complete the transaction—assuming everything else went according to plan. Make sure you have a plan for:
- Money. How are you going to transfer money? Depending on where you bought the boat, you may be able to pay through the platform, or you may have to pay the individual seller directly. Either way, you should make sure there are buyer protections in place and that you’re capable of placing a secure, documented transaction.
- Titles. Not all areas require a formal title for boat ownership, or a title transfer upon transfer of ownership. However, depending on where you’re buying or selling the vehicle, you may want or need to have the title transferred. In some cases, you may need a notary public to validate the signing over of the title.
- Insurance. In some states and in some countries, you may be required to have boat insurance. In other areas, it may not be required—but it’s still advisable. Before you take your boat on the water, make sure you have an insurance policy in place.
- Transportation. If the boat isn’t currently in your possession, you’ll also need to arrange for transportation of the vessel. Many people take it upon themselves to haul the boat via trailer, but you can also pay someone to transport the vessel for you.
After buying your first boat online, you’ll feel much more confident with the process, and you’ll already have done the research necessary to make a safe, valuable transaction online. Accordingly, your next online purchases will be much easier.