The consumer market can be unpredictable at times, so I would like to help you navigate supply and demand in the boating industry, seasonal factors, and other ideal times to purchase your boat.
With the proper research tools, industry know-how, and a bit of patience, you and your family could be closer than you think to land a great deal on the boat of your dreams.
I pray that the buying gods be with you, so you have enough change left over to host a great party at your boat naming and first launching ceremony.
Table of Contents
1. New Or Used
If you are seriously considering purchasing a boat, you will have to ask yourself if you want to buy a new or used one. Today could very well be the perfect day for purchasing your boat, but I’d like to help you understand how the industry works.
Manufacturers better focus on monthly predictions, so they are not sitting on a large inventory for too long a time. This trend also helps to explain why everything usually takes a bit longer in the marine industry- from parts and maintenance to the delivery of a new boat.
Whether you splurge all out on a brand new model or hope to save some money by considering a used sea-worthy vessel, you ought to have some idea of the type of boat you want.
It would be helpful to consider some key purchase points to help guide you to finding the most suitable boat for your needs:
- Intended use (watersports, fishing, leisure)
- Ease of Maintenance
- Steering Response and Maneuverability
- Boat Size and Weight
- Seasonal Use or Year-Round Pleasure
- Up-front Cost
If you can pencil in the answer to these questions, you will be closer to realizing your dream of boat ownership. Those same responses will steer you towards a shallow or deep draft vessel whose prices could be affected by location, inventory, season, and other factors.
Online marketplaces such as BoatTrader or YachtWorld enable you with the ability to search thousands upon thousands of new and used boats with a few strokes of your fingertips while sipping on your favorite warm beverage.
Would you be willing to incur shipment costs or care to plan an extended trip to pick up a boat located far from home? I’d say, if the price is right, then it may just be worth your consideration.
For example, you may come across a deep draft sea-faring vessel stored in a remote location with only inland waterways nearby. It stands to reason that you would have a much better shot at negotiating with the seller than if the boat was nearer the sea.
In this instance, the owner may be losing out on a lot of money for storage and possibly winterization fees, thus making that person more willing to drop the price.
If you didn’t already know, boating is the leading recreational activity in the state of Florida, so much that it surpassed the economic output of any contender state by at least $10 billion as of 2018.
What does all that jargon mean? Simply that means Florida has the most extensive inventory of boats, which makes your prospects of finding a better deal. It’s all about supply and demand.
If you don’t already live in the Sunshine State, planning a short vacation around finding a good deal on a boat is worth it. But it stands to chance that you may also find a bargain hard to resist in various other boat-crazy states.
Again, you have to be willing to be patient when buying a new or used boat in today’s market. Statistically, emotional purchases are significantly more expensive and less satisfying than a well-researched and considered acquisition.
The off-season generally provides better deals to those interested in purchasing a boat. And this again is intimately connected to location- the recreational boating season in states like Florida and South Carolina is much longer than in colder regions such as Michigan or Ohio.
The truth is, there is no natural ‘end’ to boating season- instead, boating season generally refers to the time of year that most boaters feel more comfortable being on the water.
If the cold is not a barrier, provided you exercise all boating safety precautions and stay up to date on winter boat maintenance, there is no reason you can’t enjoy your boat all year long.
In any case, various times of the year present unique buying opportunities to someone in the boating market. In general, boating season begins sometime in March and can end as late as before Thanksgiving in warmer states.
Hard-pressed to update their product lines with the newest and most techy advancements to be ready for the upcoming boat show season, manufacturers need to make room for their new inventory.
The fall is a beautiful time to land a bargain on a boat as dealers nationwide are most willing to slash prices on their older models while demand is down.
Manufacturers pick the coldest time of year to host boat shows around the country. Generally, you will find most exhibits held between January and March.
Manufacturers are hoping to lure boating enthusiasts to their newest and most up-to-date models so that big spenders have just enough time to outfit their new boat and prepare all the documentation for the first day of the season.
Here are three great resources to find a boat show near you this year:
But, with all of that noise and glam, you should stay focused on making a deal. Boat shows are a great time to take advantage of manufacturer incentives such as discounts, special financing, or other benefits.
Spring & Summer
These two seasons are historically high-demand times for boat buying. People are gearing up for the summer or have decided they can’t wait any longer to have the boat they have been drooling over for the past few months.
When competition is high, manufacturers take advantage of people’s emotional and impulse-buying habits- keeping prices significantly higher than other seasons.
5. A Season Of Hope
Despite the lifestyle changes we have all had to endure, the CoVid pandemic has provided an excellent opportunity for the family nucleus to come together.
With fewer distractions and external commitments, families around the nation are hunkering down, staying safe, and recapturing so many precious moments that the exhaustion from running around often takes away.
What is extremely interesting, and perhaps wholly unprecedented, is the spike in boat sales that the boating industry has experienced. In one CNBC interview, marina owners, franchise owners, and CEOs alike note that “boat sales skyrocketed last year  during the pandemic, and the trend shows no signs of slowing in 2021,” or the near future.
But what is even more fascinating is the massive jump in first-time boat buyers that the industry is experiencing. These statistics support the fact that increased schedule flexibility positively impacts the family and finally allows people around the nation to take up new hobbies and activities they could not find the time to do before.
Boat Buying Tips
Along with location, inventory, and various buying seasons, follow these excellent boat buying tips to get the most for your money:
- Be Flexible: Although you may have a specific type of boat in mind, you could save a ton of money if you remain flexible on the age and model of the boat.
- Shop Used: It is possible to find a good deal on a used boat; however, don’t jump into sealing the deal until it has been professionally surveyed and inspected.
- Expand Search Radius: Remember that location is a top consideration when negotiating a boat purchase. If your local area does not seem to have a boat that fits your parameters, do not be afraid to expand your search to other regions. You can always have a friend pick up your boat or schedule an out-of-state delivery.
- Be Patient, More Patient, & Still Patient: Boat dealers and manufacturers are not going away anytime soon. And for that matter, all the millions of already sea-gone vessels are not going to disappear magically. What I am trying to say is that you have options. Take your time and make a wise decision that you will not regret later. Find the best boat for your money and enjoy the outdoors- it’ll happen sooner than you think.
You and your family deserve to enjoy the outdoors, and boating is tops the list of America’s favorite recreational activities. But, before heading out to a local dealer, boating manufacturer, or private seller, please remember that Mr. Patience is a trusty old friend who wants to help you land a good deal.
Buying a boat requires careful preparation and the correct information to make a solid purchase that won’t break the bank.
If you need more help deciding on the best time to buy a boat, please leave your questions or concerns in the comment section below.
Joseph Fabiano is a writer, nature enthusiast, and stay-at-home father of two wild and free boys. He enjoys starting his day with a good run, hot mug of coffee, and a jump in the Ionian Sea, no matter the weather. Currently based in the Apuglia region of southern Italy, he enjoys discovering the world with his best traveling buddies (his little monkey’s and beautiful wife) at every given opportunity. Every trip, long or far, should be made an adventure according to Joseph as he believes inspiration and creation is right in front of you.