Buying a Pre-Owned Yacht

A Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Used Boat

Learn the steps involved when purchasing a pre-owned yacht or boat through a yacht broker.

If you’re in the market for a new boat and are looking to keep the costs down, the best place to start is pre-owned boats. From the yacht brokers at Van Isle Marina, here is our step-by-step guide to buying a pre-owned boat.

Step 1: Decide on the Right Type of Boat for Your boating needs

There are many different types of yachts available, including sailing yachts, motor yachts, sports yachts, cruising yachts, fishing yachts, and more. To narrow down what’s right for you, consider the following questions a yacht broker will likely ask you:

  • Are you looking for a sailing yacht or a motor yacht?
  • Will you be using the yacht for fishing, watersports, cruising, entertaining, or a combination?
  • Will you be using the boat for short day trips, long-range cruising, or both?
  • How important are things like speed and power?
  • Do you plan on frequently sleeping or living on your boat?
  • Will you be on your boat for days, weeks, or months at a time?
  • Do you plan on having a lot of guests spending nights on board?
  • What is your level of boating experience?
  • Will you be comfortable navigating a larger vessel, or an older vessel that might require more maintenance?

Step 2: Storage Considerations for your New Boat

In addition to the above questions, another thing to consider is where you plan on keeping your boat. Will it be in your driveway, at your own dock, or in a marina, for example?

If you’ll be docking or mooring your boat, you will need to consider the bridge height limitations, depth and draft considerations, and slip length and width maximums of where you plan on storing your boat when it’s not in use.

With answers to the above questions in mind, it’s time to read up on what boats and yachts are available or visit marinas in person to walk the docks and truly get a feel of the many sensational options out there. Another option is to skip ahead to contacting a yacht broker directly, who can help you start your search from the get-go.

Step 3: Budgeting for your New Boat

As is the case with all big purchases, it’s best to have an idea of what you can realistically afford before starting your search for your perfect vessel. If it’s your first time buying a yacht, our team of brokers will advise you on the costs associated with yacht ownership, including insurance fees, fuel consumption rates, moorage fees, extended warranties, and general maintenance. All of these factors will have a bearing on your overall boating budget.

Generally, when it comes to staying within budget, it’s often a trade-off between the boat’s size and the boat’s age – and not necessarily all of its luxury options. For example, for the same amount of money, you can get more luxury features in a smaller boat of the same age than you would in a larger boat of the same age.

Oftentimes, for newer boaters, the smaller and more updated the model, the better, as it instills confidence in navigating the vessel. The bigger the boat, the bigger the budget must become, plain and simple. At Van Isle Marina, we offer multiple financing options with full transparency and zero early payout or pre-payment restrictions. Know that the terms for boating financing are typically longer than those that are arranged for cars, aligning more with mortgage timelines – they typically range from 12 to 20 years.

Step 4: Looking at Pre-Owned Boats

Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, the next step is locating some boats to tour. A yacht broker can help you find the best deals, and many times can locate boats from far and wide that meet all your wish list, even if that boat isn’t officially on the market yet, or at their home marina yet.

At Van Isle Marina, if we don’t currently have what you’re looking for moored at our docks, we will search high and low to find you exactly the make and model you’re after. Our yacht brokers achieve this through their extensive connections with dealers, wholesalers and clients throughout the boating industry.

Like buying a house, yacht brokers will set up showings on your behalf. They can advise on a boat’s condition and flag anything that looks problematic. As with everything you purchase, you might find the right boat right away, or have to look at many options before deciding to make an offer.

Step 5: Making an Offer on a Yacht for Sale

When you find something that ticks all your boxes, making an offer on a yacht for sale is the next step. It might feel hasty at first, but it’s the best way to get ahead of others who are interested. Making an offer on a pre-owned yacht is just like putting down an offer on a house. You need to:

  • state your offer amount,
  • state your contingencies or subjects, and
  • state your timelines.

Your yacht broker will assist with all formal contracts. At this point it is recommended to have put a 10% deposit down, which your yacht broker holds in escrow, to demonstrate to the seller that your offer is serious.

Step 6: Getting a Yacht SurveyedGetting a Yacht Surveyed

One of the contingencies of a used boat sale is having the boat undergo a marine survey. This step is not mandatory but is highly encouraged. Think of this step as a home inspection, where the condition of the vessel is surveyed from bow to stern. Typically, your broker will supply you with a list of approved surveyors – ones that are reputable and known to do a thorough and complete job. There are varying degrees of boat surveys available, for example, more thorough surveys are recommended for older boats, for example, while basic surveys are fine for boats still under warranty.

During a thorough survey, all hands are on deck looking at all of the vessel’s systems in addition to having a certified engine mechanic or surveyor look at the main engines, transmissions and generators with oil samples.

If the yacht you’re looking at has gyros, stabilizer fins, a high-tech integrated entertainment center, and more, choose to have a technician who specializes in that equipment inspecting the vessel as well.

This survey is at your expense (approximately $17 – $20 per linear foot) and could take up to three days to complete. However, it is money well spent.

Step 7: To Buy or Not to Buy the Boat

With the boat surveyor’s report in front of you, it’s time to decide if you will be buying the boat or not. You can either accept the vessel, accept the vessel under certain conditions, or reject the vessel.

  • Acceptance of Vessel – If you are happy with the boat surveyor’s report, you and your yacht broker will submit the necessary form saying as much. You are accepting the boat as-is and are ready to close the deal and take possession of the boat. Congratulations!
  • Conditional Acceptance of Vessel – If some red flags came out of the marine surveyor’s report, you have a chance to bring these to the seller’s attention and negotiate the selling price some more. Your broker will prepare updated contracts stating that you would like to move forward and purchase the boat if the price is adjusted to address marine survey deficiencies. If this new price is accepted, your deposit will become non-refundable.
  • Rejection of Vessel – If the marine survey revealed some major flaws with the vessel and something just isn’t feeling right, you can (and should!) back out of the deal altogether by rejecting the vessel. To do so, you will be required to submit paperwork stating as much, and your deposit will be returned to you.

Step 8: Closing the Dealbuying a pre-owned yacht - closing the deal

Once everything is settled and the deal is moving forward, your broker will guide you through the paperwork to ensure the rest of the transaction goes smoothly. Your boat will soon be all yours! Be sure you’re prepared for its arrival by having the following in place:

  • Storage Solutions – Plan where your boat will be stored when not in use. Will it be at home in your driveway, high and dry? Or at a marina, yacht club, or your own private dock? Some boaters choose convenience and proximity to home, while others go for the amenities of a marina or yacht club, even if it’s further away.
  • Boat Insurance – If you are financing your boat, insurance coverage is a requirement. It needs to be planned for before you close the deal and take possession of the boat.
  • Transfer of Ownership – Remember to register or licence your boat. A previously owned yacht is are already registered, so you must transfer its licence number within 90 days. A yacht broker can also assist with this.

Read more about Boating Insurance, Licence, and Registration Requirements

Buying a boat is almost always an exciting process, especially if you have an experienced yacht broker on your side. That’s where Van Isle Marina can help! To further discuss what type of yacht would best fit your needs, and learn more about our yacht buying process, please feel free to contact one of our yacht brokers.  Our brokers at Van Isle Marina can give you firsthand information and advice to help you make the best decision when buying a pre-owned yacht or boat.