How to Negotiate Boat Prices

Explore America's Campgrounds

Many people are attracted to the idea of owning their own boat, whether it is a small fishing boat, a sailing vessel or a yacht. Like homes and cars, the prices of new and used boats are negotiable. Buying a boat requires the purchaser to do their homework before thinking about how to negotiate the price of the boat.

New versus Used

Evaluate the type of boat that you want to purchase and decide whether you want to buy new or used. See if you can afford the boat with the cash that you have on hand or whether you will require financing. New boats don't have fixed asking prices and many dealers add up to 50 percent to their asking prices. Therefore, ask for a significant discount on any new boat. If you are purchasing a used boat, however, expect to research the value of the type you want. Unlike new boats, have a list of published prices that can be found at Internet sites such as, and Not all marine blue books are created equal.

Attend the first day of a boat show. Boat shows present unique opportunities to buyers. Note the cost of your dream boat, but don't make an offer. Remember that most boat exhibitors would rather sell the boat at a discount than to have to haul the boat back to the showroom or lot. If the boat of choice is still for sale on the last day of the boat show, make an offer at least 25 percent below the sticker price. If you are able to strike a deal for the lower cost, make sure that the engine as well as all necessary safety items is included in the price. Also, consider buying a boat from an out-of-business boat builder or larger boat dealers and brokers who are very open to negotiation. Be prepared to negotiate vigorously for highly discounted prices.

Purchase your boat at the end of the season. Boat dealers are more willing to negotiate the cost of a boat if their lots are full. Each boat represents a cost to the dealer that will continue until the next season.

Ask the seller for a complete history of the boat including all repairs, damage and maintenance records. Have the boat thoroughly examined by a professional boat surveyor. Use any deficiencies or maintenance lapses as leverage to negotiate the boat's price downward. A powerful negotiating tool to use is a list of repairs and costs presented to the seller with your offer.

Know what you can afford and what kind of boat you want before approaching a dealer, broker or seller. The most valuable negotiating tools you can have are cash or an approved loan for the purchase and knowledge about your boat of choice.


  • Beware of sellers who are willing to discount the price of the hull but will charge you list price for all other necessary items for your purchase.
  • If the price is too low, the boat could be stolen.
  • Don't buy a boat you have not seen.