Top Tips on Buying a New or Used Boat

Are you looking to buy a new or used boat but need some tips before getting started? There are so many factors to consider, making tricky to know if you are getting a good deal or being ripped off. Should you buy new and pay a higher price for peace of mind, or find a quality used boat?

To help you find the right boat for sale in Australia, Samuel Davis from BoatDeal has come up with some top tips for buying a new or used boat to ensure you make the right decision.

Choose a Trusted Brand

New or used, a boat’s brand is something important to consider. The brand offers so many important considerations such as design, quality, status and value.

Some companies invest heavily in bringing out new cutting edge designs. Other companies use the same designs they’ve been using from decades past, lagging behind like a set of worn out covers.

Build quality is particularly important. Market leaders have well established and world leading factories. Some new market entrants utilising unskilled labour in countries such as China for example, are ones to avoid.

Researching the company, its history and its current state of affairs is a good tip to protect against potential loss. Buying a brand that is about to go into insolvency, for example, will make getting any warranty work covered impossible and make it harder to resell down the line.

You can use the following questions to help you weigh up the options:

  • Design: Is it practical to use? Is it up to date or behind the times?
  • Quality: Is it high quality, low quality or somewhere in between?
  • Company: Are they well established?

It can be tempting to look at smaller brands who may come out with some unique and quirky designs. But large and long established brands will help you in terms of having the ability to honour their warranty and retain resale value when it comes time to let the boat go.

Some boat brands in Australia are world renowned for their quality. Riviera and Maritimo are Australian market leaders. You will see these at nearly every marina in the country, and for good reason – they make high quality boats. Boat lovers around the world trust these boats and you can be confident in the quality when buying one.

For some tips on quality new or used brands, search the marketplace and find the right one for you.

New or Used: Understand Your Needs

With such an extensive amount of boats for sale in Australia, you can find a model suited to your needs. Do some research online, and check out different models at your local marina to get a feel for your preferences. By explaining your needs and preferences to a broker, they will help lead you to suitable models.

If you are more interested in day-boating, you will want a model that is easy to get going and have you out on the water in the least amount of time possible. A centre console could be an ideal model for you. These models have the console in the middle of the boat, leaving plenty of space for fishing on all sides, helping you cast out and reel in the big catch without anything getting in the way.

If you are looking to stay out on the water for extended periods of time and spend nights on your boat, you will need a model that is designed for comfort. Maritimo, Princess and Riviera are great examples of leaders in this field, with all models designed for ultimate comfort while on the water.

Maybe you are more of a recreational boater, and want a model that can perform a range of activities like water-skiing or wakeboarding. Sea Ray for example has plenty of models suited to these sports, especially among their bowrider range.

Finding a boat you love is all about exploring your options and matching your needs and circumstances. The brands mentioned are just a few examples of boat brands out of the hundreds available for sale in Australia.

Top Tips on Price Negotiation 

When buying a used boat through a private sale, you have an opportunity to negotiate the price. There is a high chance that the individual seller has not had it independently valued and is just asking for the price they think it’s worth.

Have it inspected by a surveyor and ask for their opinion on how much it is worth. An important tip in buying a boat includes doing your own research to see what comparable models are selling for online or at local boat dealers. Then put on your best negotiating hat and see what kind of deals you can work, you might be surprised at what they are willing to accept.

If you are purchasing a boat through a dealer, the price will likely reflect the worth of the vessel more accurately. It may be harder to negotiate price, but they will be able to provide other benefits like financing, boating advice, training skippers or help you find another option in your price range.

Thorough Inspection and Testing

Once you do find a boat for sale in Australia that you like and that meets your needs, you need to have it inspected by an expert. A qualified surveyor will go over the boat and advise if there are any issues. There is usually a small fee to get someone to check it out, but spotting problems early will prevent you from buying a dud, saving you endless amounts of time and money.

Once you are confident you know the condition of the boat, you should ask to go for a test drive or “sea trial.” You can do this just with the seller and yourself, but it’s best to have the qualified surveyor perform a sea trial as part of the inspection. You want to ensure it is structurally sound and performs all the functions required of it.

A marine surveyor will fully inspect the boat’s hull and electrical components. In addition to this, you’ll want to ensure that you get a mechanical surveyor to perform tests to establish the engines condition. They can perform a compression test if requested and examine all documents provided by the previous owner. Once this is complete, you will likely receive a full, unbiased assessment of the quality of the boat.

New Boat versus Used Boat

The idea of owning a brand new boat is tantalizing. Being the first owner of a boat gives you a special connection to it. You can really call it your own, and it will be yours and yours alone. Of course there are significant benefits to buying a boat brand new. You can trust it is in the best condition possible and will come with all the latest technology and accessories.

However, all of these luxuries come with a price. A new boat will cost you significantly more than a used boat. If you want a boat now, but a brand new boat is out of your price range, you can buy a used boat and then trade up for your dream boat in the future.

For some, the word “used” may be off putting, but it doesn’t carry the same meaning as it once did. Recent models last longer. Today’s boats are high quality, and offer updated composite materials and careful attention during construction.

Top Tips for Buying a New Boat

Innovative Designs

New boats of today have a truly futuristic feel. Boat engineers become more innovative every year, challenging the status quo by creating some of the most extraordinary vessels to ever be seen on the water. By purchasing a new boat, you will get to experience the impressive innovation and design every time you head out on the water.

The innovation cycle for boats is much faster than that of the car industry. Popular cars undergo significant upgrades and redesigns every few years.

Unlike cars, boats can be updated every year with the newest design, accessories and features. Don’t be disappointed if you missed out on your dream boat last year, as it could be even more attractive if it’s the time to buy it “now”.

The Latest Technology

Some may argue that electronics have short lived lives before the upgraded version comes out, but the new boat will be kitted out with the latest accessories, meaning you have top of the line features and technology. You will have the option to upgrade your boat before you complete your purchase in order to fit your personal needs.


One of the most lucrative benefits to buying a new boat over a used one is the warranty coverage. You may spend a little extra, but that is all for peace of mind. If you break down on the water in your new boat, you won’t have to worry about spending thousands more on repairs as it is likely to be covered by warranty.

Modern boats are built with such precision and detail that manufacturers do not hesitate to offer these warranties. Hopefully you never have any issues that require a warranty, but it’s nice to know you have the option.

Option to Design It Your Own Way

The most popular models in the boat market are in very high demand at the moment. The dream boat that you have been eyeing up may not be available or “out of stock”. Manufacturers are working overtime to match this demand and provide customers with more boats.

Ordering your boat from the dealer gives you the ability to customise your boat to your particular needs. Whether you want to change the colour, add gadgets, or increase motor size, you can have that luxury when buying a new boat. Your boat will come fully kitted out, personalised, and ready to hit the water.

More Peace Of Mind

Purchasing a brand new boat means you don’t have to spend time looking into the boat’s history. You have the power to write the boat’s biography. There is no ambiguity when it comes to past work, previous owners and warranty coverage. You are in control of this, meaning less unknown problems will arise, giving you more time to enjoy your boat.

Top Tips For Buying a Used Boat

Value For Money

A lower price is the most obvious advantage of buying a used boat in Australia. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the ability to buy a brand new boat, but this doesn’t mean you can’t buy a used one. There are a plethora of used boats on the market in fantastic condition at a fraction of the price of a new one. You can still achieve your goal of buying a boat without spending a fortune. The cost benefits of buying a used boat means you can use the savings to buy upgrades or spend the extra money elsewhere.

Less Depreciation

When you buy a new boat, after the first year of usage, the price is likely to drop significantly.  When it comes time to sell, you are very unlikely to get back what you spent on it. Even though boats are something that hold their value well, you lose 20-30% over the first couple of years of ownership.

By purchasing a used boat, you avoid these depreciation costs. The boat’s first owner incurred these for you. There is always high demand for used boats, and with limited depreciation costs, when it comes time for you to sell you may get closer to what you paid for it.

Wider Range of Options

Boat manufacturers in Australia can only produce a finite number of new boats each year. But almost all the used boats on the market continue to circulate year after year. There is a far wider range of options for people looking at used boats for sale in Australia. If you have not found your dream boat among the newest models, try expanding your search to the used boat market.

In Summary

Purchasing a boat can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it’s hard to know where to start looking. Do you fork out and spend a lot of money on a brand new boat? Or, go for the cheaper option and look at buying a pre-owned boat? The key to making that decision is to find the boat which best meets your needs, preferences and your budget. There’s lots of help available with both online resources such as reviews and articles. You can also ask your local dealers and brokers too.

Search all the new boats or used boats available to buy on BoatDeal.

About the Author

Samuel Davis is an experienced Yacht Dealer and Broker and founder of Growing up on the Cornish Coast, sailing family yachts, he always has been surrounded with boating life. With over 9 years experience in the Marine Industry, he loves to help people to find the right boat. Whether you are a buyer or seller, interested in new, used or shares; contact Samuel and he can help you with the whole process.

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