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You could own a boat

A guide for first-time buyers

Woman on sail boatWoman on sail boat Have you ever dreamed of owning a boat? Buying a boat is viewed as a large expense. Because boats can be expensive, many people think boat ownership isn't a realistic option. However, with proper planning, a good budget, and realistic expectations, it might not be as hard as you think - especially if you buy one used from a private seller.

Even so, it's a purchase that shouldn't be taken lightly. There are many things to consider and review before signing the dotted line, and we're here to guide you along the way!

Finding the right boat

You should ask yourself, Will I be hosting a leisurely happy hour on the water with friends? Will the kids want to go tubing or waterskiing? Will I want to transport the boat from place to place? Your answers will inform the types of boats you'll want to consider.

Next, you'll begin your search for that dream vessel. You can find listings for used boats on third-party listing websites such as Boat Trader or Boats.com, or scour nearby bait shops' bulletin boards.

When you find an option that interests you, you can then set up a dialogue with the seller to ask questions and narrow in on the details.

Inspecting the boat

Let's imagine you've found a vessel that suits your needs, gets you excited, and appears to be a safe purchase. That’s great, but there are still many inspections and reviews to conduct before you're ship-shape.

You’ll want to ensure that you do these four following steps during your inspection.

1. Do a walk-around

You'll want to do a simple walking tour of the vessel before doing anything else. Be sure to look for any imperfections on the exterior, then move to the interior to ensure that everything looks well-kept and is working as it should.

2. Conduct a sea trial

You should then take the boat out onto the water to observe its performance. Have the seller show you the boat's features and take a long enough cruise to ensure that all systems are working correctly.

3. Hire a marine surveyor

If you're buying a larger boat, it can be valuable to have a professional marine surveyor check it for any potential issues. Your findings from this step will help you gauge the vessel's ongoing costs, address any problems with the seller, or leverage your price negotiations. To find a Marine Surveyor in your area, you can use the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors website here!

4. Review titles and liens

A title is required for boats over 16ft in length in most states. When reviewing it, ensure that there are no liens and that the Hull Identification Number (HIN) matches the one on the vessel. If a title is not required in your case, then ask the seller to see the bill of sale from their initial purchase.

Please note: First Tech boat loans are limited to vessels under 10 years old. If you want to purchase a boat over 10 years old, a First Tech personal loan may be the best option.

Once everything is inspected, and you're positive that you've found the right vessel, it's time to make the purchase! You can find a purchase agreement form on your state's government website, BoatUS.com, or the Coast Guard's website

Be sure that your agreement includes every accessory you expect with the boat, and double-check that you have the proper Hull Identification Number. Once the agreement is signed and filed, you're ready to set sail.

If you're ready to consider buying a boat, please visit our boat loans page to learn about taking out a loan.