7 Things to Consider When Buying a Boat

For those lucky enough to live by a body of water – or be willing to travel to one – owning a boat is the ticket to a dreamy summer of sun, swimming, and thrills. Whether you’re a seasonal boater or you want to make boating a year-round lifestyle, there are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a boat.

If you’ve never bought a boat before, the process can seem complicated. However, just like buying a car or a house, the right advice of the steps to take can go a long way in simplifying the process. Use this guide as a starting point to navigate how your boat ownership dreams fit into your life. Here we go!

1. New or Pre-owned Boat

Like with buying a car or a house, you have the option to buy a new or pre-owned boat if you’ve decided to embrace the boating lifestyle. The bigger question is how to determine which route is the best for you. Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer. The choice will largely depend on personal inclinations and price tags, as both of these options have their own pros and cons.

While a new boat offers you the choice to choose a lot of features and specifications, as well as a reasonable warranty, they typically end-up more expensive than pre-owned boats. However, worries about major repairs or maintenance costs should not be as much of a concern as they would be for a pre-owned boat. That doesn’t mean, however, you can’t find a used boat in excellent condition. Be it from friends or for sale ads within the boating community, it’s never too hard to find a used-boat that can check most of your boat wish list boxes.

2. Uses and boat size

Another thing you should factor into your boat buying plans is the size and intended use. You want to be sure of what you’re getting, and what the size of the boat will mean for use, transportation, and storage. Are you in the market for a boat that can accommodate all members of your family for fishing trips every other weekend? Or maybe you have plans to travel the world in your watercraft, so other areas will take priority. Or, if a slower weekend isn’t to your liking, maybe you’re more interested in just how fast the boat can go. All of these factors are important and should play a role in your choice of choosing a particular boat to buy. After all, you want to make sure your boat does what you want.

3. Boat type

You may already know by now that there are different types of boats you can buy. There are trawlers, sailboats, cabin cruisers, dinghies, catamarans, trimarans, motor yachts, and houseboats – just to name a few. Other things such as engine and sails options (if present), the construction material, the electronics package – as well as the trailer and tow weight – should be considered as well. Having a knowledge of these things will not only help you get a view of what to expect with the purchasing process but also more about your boating experience post-purchase.

family in boat4. Inspection

So, you’ve finally found the boat of your dreams and you’re already fantasizing about how you’ll be spending your time on the water. Make sure your reality doesn’t get water-logged or land-bound due to issues missed when first looking at the boat.

A boat inspection should be carried out by a professional who will complete an in-depth review of the condition of the boat you’re interested in. You don’t want to be stuck with huge repair costs and missed weekend outings when you should be enjoying the lifestyle you crave. The inspection will help determine the seaworthiness of the boat so you can buy with confidence and enjoy the optimal boating experience.

5. Boat financing

Years of innovations in the boating industry, as well as the use of construction materials like fiberglass and aluminum, have made boat ownership more affordable than ever. More and more people are buying boats and today more than 15 million recreational boats are on U.S. waters alone. Still, a lot of people don’t realize they can afford to buy a boat. This comes down to a lack of information in regards to boat financing options available to them.

You can leverage home equity loans or access a personal loan to buy your boat. In some cases, there are even dealer-financing options available. Deere Employees Credit Union (DECU) also offers boat loans with some of the best rates you can find. The terms are highly flexible with 100% financing options as well as insurance services. You’ll want to apply for pre-approval as this will help during the boat shopping phase.

Why pre-approval?

While pre-approval is not a mandatory process, it will be advantageous for you. In fact, this is one of the steps anyone should undertake before they plan to get a loan of any type. Pre-approval will help you determine whether you qualify for the loan and just how much you can borrow. With this knowledge you’ll be able to shop around with confidence knowing what you can afford. Also, boat sellers or dealers will also take your offer more seriously, knowing you have financing almost secured.

For pre-approval you need nothing more than your credit report, the previous year’s tax returns, and a few other important financial statements. Just like an inspection by a professional, you’ll need a marine survey as required by most lenders to ascertain the worthiness of the boat and determine whether it’s worth the investment.

6. Insurance

You’ll need a boat insurance policy to keep you covered against a wide range of things from physical damage to the boat, theft, medical expenses, wreck removals, etc. While cost and coverage will usually vary, your lender will specify the minimum coverage you can get. Additionally, many boat owners also get on-the-water boat towing insurance along with the regular boat insurance.

In deciding the cost of your insurance, the insurance company will consider certain things that include the type of boat, its age, value and style, where it will be used, your boating experience and record, navigational equipment, as well as your insurance claims history.

If you like to one-stop shop – or just get the best rates – as a member of DECU you are eligible for insurance coverage for your boat and other vehicles with great rates. If you haven’t already, check out this option to see if you’ve been missing any savings in comparison to current policies.

boat on trailer7. Legal

Buying a boat also involves some basic legality. To start with, your boat and even the boat trailer, have to be registered to you.  There are also state and federal laws you have to be aware of to ensure proper compliance. If you will be crossing state borders to buy your boat, you should understand that other states may have laws that are different from your home state’s, which may affect how you can legally transport your boat. This is why it may be a great idea to check with an experienced professional to help answer some of your questions. You don’t want to find the boat of your dreams out of state, buy it, and then find out you have a Titanic problem getting it home.

Apply for a Boat Loan at DECU

DECU members can access boat loans to finance the purchase of their dream boat. These loans can be very beneficial with flexible terms and fast approval times. The rates are very competitive and are some of the best you’ll find across the country. Apply for pre-approval, qualify for 100% financing, and also leverage DECU Insurance Services when you utilize your DECU membership.

With a flexible DECU boat loan, you can easily enjoy the boating lifestyle you’ve always wanted to experience. Make buying your own dream boat as easy as 1-2-3. You can simply initiate this process by logging into the Online Banking platform and then click on the Loan Request tab to begin. Alternatively, you can call the toll-free DECU support line at (800) 338-673.

Now is the time to buy your dream boat and DECU is here to ensure you don’t pay more than you have to. Anchors away!