Tips for Negotiating a Lower Price on a Used Boat
Negotiating with used boat sellers isn’t easy, as they’ve likely become emotionally attached to their “baby,” perhaps making them think it’s worth more than it is.
Ultimately, much of the bargaining between you and the seller will come down to the NADA book value for the boat’s year and model. However, as the buyer, you have cards up your sleeve that can help you shave some dollars off the final purchase price. Here are some tips to help you negotiate the price of a secondhand boat.
Use the Boat’s Equipment Against the Seller
The seller will no doubt have listed the many improvements and upgrades he or she made to the boat, and will use this to keep the asking price above the NADA book value.
Make it very clear to the seller that you aren’t interested in any of this equipment and gear. In fact, there are several ways to use the equipment as a bargaining chip against the seller. For example, gadgets such as GPS, depth finders, fish finders and radars get superseded by upgraded models and systems within months. Tell the seller this equipment will be outdated soon, and that electronics such as audio equipment and onboard lighting have a subjective appeal. Say that you prefer similar equipment of a higher quality or that you don’t like the particular brand of the installed equipment.
Likewise, cosmetic improvements such as seating, Bimini tops, grills and tables are also subjective to taste, so tell the seller you don’t like their style and it's going to cost you extra to refurbish it. Also, mention that leisure and watersports equipment such as wakeboarding and skiing accessories or fishing equipment are only of use to someone with the same interests, which you don’t share (even if you do).
Having told the seller of your disinterest in the current equipment, mention that you’ll have to personally replace everything if you were to buy the used boat. Then, calculate the cost of the existing equipment and subtract it from the seller’s asking price. Assuming the seller is a reasonable person, you’ve just negotiated yourself a lower price for the boat!
The seller may agree to a lower price but remove equipment to sell off or transfer to another boat. In this situation, you can still come out winning because it’s easy to find brand new replacements at discounted prices. Take advantage of the savings on the lowered boat price to install new or better equipment.
Use Necessary Repairs Against the Seller
Go over the boat inch-by-inch and make note of every bit of damage, as well as anything in need of repair or replacement.
Armed with your list, go through it with the seller and review the cost to fix or replace each item, which may include:
When agreeing on the cost to repair or replace an item, factor in the labor costs as well. Keep in mind that unless the part in question is very new, you can’t expect to deduct its full “new replacement” price and you’ll have to factor in some depreciation. Again, if the seller is a reasonable person, you’ll be able to negotiate an even lower price for the boat!
Bonus Tips For Negotiating a Lower Boat Price
The tactics outlined above are solid for getting a lower price from the seller, but there are other ways to give you additional leverage for negotiating a better deal.
Check your emotions and stay cool. In other words, don’t be too obvious in letting the seller know you really like the boat. Try and remain neutral when entering into negotiations, and ask to see the boat’s service history. A used boat that’s been properly serviced has more value than a newer or seemingly “better” boat with no service history. A full service history report serves as proof the boat has been properly cared for. No service history is a red flag that the boat and its motor(s) are probably in need of expensive repairs, so make sure the seller can provide a report.
Take the boat for a “sea trial”. If the seller won’t let you take it out for a test ride, he or she obviously has something to hide, so forget about this boat and move on to the next one. Finally, be prepared to settle on a price that’s fair to both parties. Keep in mind the seller is trying to get the best deal too, so it’s unlikely negotiations will completely work out in your favor.
However, if the seller has reduced the price enough to please you and enough to satisfy the seller, you’ve probably reached the point at which any further bargaining will drive one side away from the table. In other words, don't try to talk the seller down any lower or you could end up killing negotiations. Seal the deal while you’re ahead!