How Much is Your Boat Worth? Prices Are all Over the Map

Buying a used boat can be a daunting task. On one hand it is smart, like buying a car, most of a boats depreciation happens early in the vessels life. When you find that special boat, the model you want, with a great service history and still shines like new, you can often get on the water for a huge discount. Even better, that boat won’t often depreciate at the same rate as a new boat. Here are a few reasons why it is so hard to price a used boat. Some are technical reasons and others are a combination of emotions and the market.

First, technology is always changing and that is no different in the marine industry. Many new features are designed to make your boat safer, perform better and generally improve the ownership experience. Buying a boat that is over 10 years old may mean the electronics, power and design is a little bit out of date. For many boaters, this is either a minor issue or a major one, depending on the type of boat and what it is used for.

Let’s consider engine technology. New marine engines have the latest computer controlled fuel injection systems, diagnostic tools and engine management to ensure you are running as efficiently as possible. Features like automatic trim, digital engine monitoring and the engine itself monitors every split second the engine is running for optimization. This is good news, you can tell if something is wrong immediately, you can benchmark different props or setup to make sure your boat is running efficiently. And, if there is an issue with your engine, typically it can be diagnosed quickly. Modern engines have never been more reliable.

Over time, all engines have more maintenance requirements and eventually reliability goes down. Marine engines over 10 or 15 years old may perform very well and be maintained very well, but their value is often quite low due to the nature of them losing reliability, efficiency and peace of mind.

If you’re into fishing and or navigating in large bodies of water, on board electronics may be important to you. Fish finders, GPS, radar / chart plotters, battery monitoring systems etc. often have to be updated, depending on the user. The boat that seems like a good deal may in fact need thousands in updates that make the boat down the street priced higher a better deal in the end. There are so many factors to consider, especially when you get into fishing boats, and that’s why fishing boat prices range so much and seem so expensive. The same could be said for big water cruisers with lots of features in them.

One hidden factor of high used boat prices is “pride of ownership.” We all have it to some degree, where we believe our boat is better than the next, better condition, better maintenance, the best colors and this makes it worth more; to us! Don’t worry, the market will decide, so if your boat doesn’t sell reasonably quickly, then maybe you love your boat too much to let it go.

Of course, there are other factors. Finding comparable models is a quick way to determine a boats worth. Remember to compare sold prices, not just asking prices. And sometimes it’s helpful to think of the separate value of your boat, motor and trailer in order to better understand their value as a package. You could even ask a broker. We always recommend auctioning your boat as the best way to find what it’s worth. Whether you’re shopping for a boat or selling, we hope you find what you’re looking for.