Six essentials towards a confident boat purchase.

Six essentials towards a confident boat purchase.

– Define your needs before buying

– Choosing the right broker

– Visit potential boats

– The importance of the purchase offer and sales contract

– The inspection (survey) is essential whether new or used

– The protocol for taking possession

Buying a boat is an important decision so take the time, get informed and don’t let emotions get the better of reason.

Unfortunately, too many people believe that buying a boat is like buying a car, a perception that can lead to a negative boating experience and costly with a quick resale.

Define your needs before buying

What is your objective in the purchase of a boat? What images come to mind, a boat for day trips, weekends or long vacations?  Will the boat remain at the marina or anchor in a small bay?  What bodies of water where you are thinking of navigating?  How many people will be onboard?  Is comfort at all times important to you such as air conditioning, generator, large refrigeration/freezing capacity etc?   Capacity of the holding tank for the toilets if long trips are in the plans.   Other questions such as canvas, patio door, express or flybridge, room(s) with doors, toilet(s) with separate shower are equally as important.

In short, these are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves and see what model and/or length meets our expectations.

The technical aspect, such as, the motorization, joystick, navigation aids, hydraulic platform or not for a dinghy (zodiac style, watercraft), a hardtop (flybridge), stabilization with a gyroscope, in short, a lot of criteria come in to play.

Choosing the right broker

A professional broker will help you define your needs and of course, will propose a selection of boats that will correspond to your requests, but also, take into account, the market (supply and demand, resale value) and this without limitation.

Boats are often, if not always, cheaper in the United States due to volume. Your broker should present you with all the options available to you.

Of course, there is the saltwater phenomenon that has served freshwater sellers well in demonetizing boats south of the border but remember that an inspection makes all the difference. There is also a very large market in the Great Lakes (Michigan, Erie).

If buying a boat that navigates between Quebec City and Tadoussac in salt water doesn’t worry the buyer, why not the Northeast coast of the United States?   The area from New Jersey to Boston boats are also 6 months a year out of the water and they are also in cold salt water, so a great option.

Certainly, a professional broker will present you with the best options and will assist you throughout the transaction and take into consideration not only the acquisition budget but also the operating budget.

He will advise you on the trends, the reputation of the manufacturers, the strengths and weaknesses of each one, the sales comparisons, in short, essential data to make an excellent transaction.

Moreover, when you are in buying mode, your broker’s fees will be paid by the seller. In fact, normally a boat transaction works exactly like in real estate industry, there is the listing broker who agrees to share his commission with the buyer’s broker.

For the American market, this is usually the norm. In fact, more than 80% of transactions are done with two brokers who act on behalf of their respective clients.

Should you be buying a new boat, never forget the importance of a broker to limit surprises. Buying a boat is absolutely not comparable to buying a new car in terms of anomalies.

In many circumstances, a boat that is one or two years old has had the anomalies resolved in addition to a saving of 15% to 20% on the selling price. In general, a new 50′ to 60′ boat has about 250 defects (cosmetic and/or functional) when it leaves the factory. In comparison, a LEXUS car has 7 +/- 2 defects when it leaves the factory.

Buying a boat requires an expertise and unfortunately, this is a mistake frequently made by new boaters.

Visit potential boats

Once you have your list of needs and desires, it’s time to visit boats without falling into the trap of love at first sight.  A comparison grid provided by your broker will be an asset to compare brands, models and options.  Remember this motto: Reflection precedes action

Visiting boats during boat shows is ideal as pressure from the sellers is not as intense. After all, all brands are gathered in one place.

The most important annual boat shows in North America are Fort Lauderdale (end of October), Miami (mid-February) and Palm Beach (in March).

The first boat show to present new products is Cannes in early September.

Click here to learn more about the Boat Shows.

The importance of the purchase offer and sales contract

A purchase offer must provide everything in detail, it must allow the buyer to have all the options at his disposal. If the offer appears restrictive and limits your choices following the inspections, withdraw immediately from the process.

You should only sign an offer if you fully understand its scope. The broker is your best reference for drafting an offer that does not penalize you at any time, whether the transaction takes place here in Canada, in the United States or in Europe.

Your broker must put in place all the mechanisms (inspection, legal aspects) in order to limit (as much as possible) any surprises following the purchase.

The terms of the deposit and its reimbursement are well defined. All withdrawal clauses are clear and precise. The timetable of steps is in actual dates.

The purchase offer and the final deed of sale are clear and comply with all legislation. They provide for all circumstances up to the point of taking possession.

The inspection (survey) is essential whether new or used

The most important step that follows the accepted purchase offer is the choice of an accredited marine inspector (surveyor).

Following the surveyor’s report, several avenues are possible. It goes from a simple withdrawal from the acquisition process, or the inspection report opens the door to a negotiation for discounts or repairs by seller.

An inspection always includes a sea trial lasting approximately for 30 minutes. Of course, inspections are permitted only once a deposit of usually 10% is received in an in trust account that was agreed upon in the purchase offer.

And remember, a pre-purchase inspection is an absolute must for both for new and used boats.

The protocol for taking possession

The transaction is about to be concluded, proceed by bank transfer (not a check) and a delivery protocol that defines the roles of everyone is well explained. It has been verified that there are no liens and the seller is indeed the legitimate seller.

Tax issues are known and understood. The moment of taking possession is approaching and everything will go well according to the wishes of each party.


If you are buying a home through a general contractor, they will offer you the homes they have built. If you buy your home through a broker, you will have the entire market to choose from for the home that meets your needs.

The topics in this article have been covered only on the surface. Consult a professional and independent broker for any questions.

Ita Yachts Canada’s professional brokers have a code of ethics that will make the difference in your transaction.


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