So: you’re about to buy a boat and you want some tips for negotiating a lower price? Of course you do—who wants to pay more than they have to? No one. So listen up, and save a buck!
1. Diss the Electronics
This tactic can be applied whether you’re buying a new or used boat, but it works best with a used boat that has flush-mounted electronics; take a look at them and let the seller know that you don’t like them. You can explain that it’s not the brand you like, that its quality is too high or too low, or that it’s not the model you have your heart set on. Whatever. Then figure out its approximate worth, and tell the buyer you want that amount subtracted off the asking price—but you won’t buy the boat if they remove it and leave open holes behind.
You run a slim risk that they’ll simply say okay, pull the unit(s) off the boat, and patch the fiberglass (obviously, that's likely with easily removed binacle mounted units). But in most cases, especially if the unit is flush-mounted in the helm, it’ll cause them more grief than it’s worth to remove or replace the unit(s) and fix the holes. Unless the system is worth thousands, most of the time they’ll be willing to reduce overall price by the value of the electronics or some portion thereof, to make the sale.
2. Make a list, check it twice
When you’re looking over a used boat, make a list of any and all damage. Then assign a reasonable cost to having each item fixed. Ratty canvas, gouges in the fiberglass, ripped cushions, and cracked/split wood are some key items to look for. If you like the boat overall, tell the seller you’ll buy it at their asking price if they have all of the items fixed—or reduce the asking price by the amount the repairs will cost. They’ll have a hard time arguing that it’s unreasonable to pay for damage already done.
3. Arm yourself with info
For both new and used purchases, you’ll be able to negotiate a better deal if you know the value of both what you’re looking at and of competitive boats. When buying new get pricing on several similar boats off the internet, and print out the info so you can show it to the seller if their price is higher. When buying used, come to the table armed with a print-out of the book value. Most sellers think their boat is worth more than the book says, so it gives you some firm ground to stand on when you tell them it’s not worth as much as they think it is.
For more info about boat pricing, read our article Boat Prices with NADA Guides.