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8-step guide to buying a boat this summer.

The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and there’s no better way to celebrate the summer season than by enjoying beautiful lakes and rivers. Read on for the ultimate boat-buying guide.

Step 1: Choose your boat type.

Before you can start browsing, decide on the kind of boat you’d like to buy. Boats, like cars, should be purchased with their intended use in mind. Take some time to think about your favorite water activities and determine which are most important to you. Research different boat types and ask your boat-owning friends to share their own impressions and tips. 

When selecting a boat, you'll want to be sure that the boat can be hauled by your current vehicle. Consider factors such as the horsepower of your vehicle, the type of tow hitch installed, and whether the vehicle has four-wheel drive capabilities.

Once you’ve chosen a boat type, decide where you’ll keep it. If you’d like to save on dockage costs and have the space for it on your property, you might want to buy a trailer-able boat. Remember, though, that hauling your own boat means you’ll need to take it to a launch ramp each time you want to get out onto the water. A water-stored boat makes last-minute getaways possible.

Step 2: Decide if you want to buy a new or used boat.

You can save a ton of money by buying a previously owned boat. Visit boating sites, like and to check out used boats that are on the market. You might be pleasantly surprised! However, keep in mind that just like used cars, insurance premiums, repairs, and maintenance may be higher for a used boat.

Step 3: Start boat shopping!

Now you’re ready to hit the shops! Start your browsing with online listings. You’ll be able to sift through hundreds of models and compare prices, all from the comfort of your sofa. Check out,, and for a wide variety of models. On those sites, you’ll be able to search by boat type, size, or even customize your search by location.

Once you’ve exhausted your online options, start making the rounds of local boat shows and dealers. Hop aboard as many boats as you can to get a real feel for the quality and potential ride. Be nosy and ask lots of questions. Snap pictures and organize them by boat so you can look at it all over again when you get home.

Step 4: Narrow your choices.

Now that you’ve spent some time checking out boats, you may have different priorities. Sit down and list what’s most important to you in a dream boat. Include all boat categories you will consider, and then narrow that by your must-have features, ones you’d like to have, and ones you want to keep away from.

Next, review the snapshots of the boats you’ve looked at, both in real life and online, and list the ones that fit all, or most of, your preferences. Additionally, check if the boats you're considering are NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) certified. This certification ensures that the boat meets the stringent standards for engine performance, safety equipment, electronic systems, and weight capacity, providing you with peace of mind and a guaranteed level of quality and reliability.

Finally, it’s time to make that nail-biting decision and choose your boat!

Step 5: Inspect your boat.

Once you think you have identified the boat of your dreams, conduct a walkaround and a sea trial. You might want to hire a professional surveyor to help you out here. You’ll need one for insurance purposes anyway, and they’ll know how to do the job more thoroughly.

Don’t be shy about inspecting your boat deeply – especially if a deal seems too good to be true. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises once the deal is done! Walk through the entire boat and closely inspect each structural component, feature, and amenity.

When you’ve finished your walkaround, it’s time to take her offshore. Your sea trial will show you what the boat’s like out on the water. After the sea trial, ask to have the boat hauled. It’s important for you to see the entire boat before you buy it, even what’s usually out of sight and below the waterline.

Step 6: Find out what’s included.

Before you sign a contract, sit down with the seller to discuss exactly what’s included in the sale. Request a list of all equipment that comes with the boat so you can ensure you’ve got it all. You can also ask the seller about an amenity package – they may be more than willing to get rid of their “boating stuff” and you can save a ton in add-ons this way.

Step 7: Seal the deal.

Get your financing set, if necessary, and arrange for any warranties, insurance, and hauling equipment you’ll need. Everwise offers financing for boats and various recreational vehicles that can make your adventures a reality with low rates and attractive terms. Once you have the financial details worked out, you’ll be ready to make it happen. Then, all that’s left to do is sign the paperwork, and the boat is yours. At this point, you may be feeling heady with excitement. Make sure you keep a clear mind, so you don’t fall for any last-minute gimmicks.

"It's wise to calculate what payment you can afford before visiting the boat dealership. The excitement of buying a new boat can sometimes lead to making a purchase that's beyond your budget, potentially throwing off your financial plans."

– Sven Leander, Everwise Vice President of Consumer Lending.

Step 8: Purchase insurance, warranties, and more.

Before you set sail, make sure your boat is adequately insured against damage. You may also want to purchase a warranty against your boat’s condition. If you’re going to be hauling your boat around yourself, you’ll also need to buy a trailer before you can head out to the docks.

Finally! You’re all set to hit the water and take in many enjoyable hours away from it all. Power up that engine, feel the wind in your sails, and enjoy the ride!

For additional information on buying a boat and other consumer guides, visit our Consumer Guides page.

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All information presented on this page is for educational purposes only and doesn’t constitute tax, legal, or accounting advice. It is to be considered as general information, not recommendations. Please consult with an attorney or tax professional for guidance.

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