How to Buy Used Boats in Florida

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Florida offers many benefits to a boat buyer. A four-season boating year makes looking for a boat easier than in areas where water freezes. Because the state is surrounded on three sides by water, and full of inland lakes and rivers, it can be a boating paradise. Buying a boat in Florida is even easier when you know how to go about finding the types of boats you are looking for, so you can narrow the field and spend your time efficiently.

  • Check out the national average price for the type of boat/boats you are interested in. Use the common book value rating available from the N.A.D.A. Marine Guide. This will help you know if the boat you are looking is priced reasonably. You will also need the N.A.D.A. value of the board if you want to get a loan for the boat. A bank will use N.A.D.A. figures to determine the value of the boat and will not give a loan higher--or much higher--than the book value of a boat.

  • Look online at various boat sales sites to find specific types of boats you like. Most sites such as iboats.com, yachtworld.com, and boattrader.com allow you to narrow your search to an area based on zip code, state, or both--as well as make, model, size, and year of boat.

  • Use the information and pictures from these sites to come up with a short list of boats in Florida you like the most. Pay close attention to words and phrases in an ad that may indicate the boat in question isn't ready for immediate use. Statements like "needs TLC," usually mean it's going to take a lot of work and money to get it ready to float.

  • Go down the list and place the remaining boats in order of those that are most appealing to you. Start with the top of the list and make appointments to see the boat and, if possible, take it on a sea trial. If the boat is not in the water find out why. In Florida there is no "down time" where the boat needs to be out of water due to seasonal issues, so if a boat is out, there may be a reason for it. Of course, it could just be financially more reasonable to keep it on a trailer than in a slip, so don't jump to conclusions either.

  • Hire a marine surveyor to examine the boat, and go along on the sea trial. This excellent precaution protects your interests as a buyer. The marine surveyor knows how to test the engine, check the hull for breeches, look at the oil, the working parts of the engine, get down into the bilge and look for water damage. The marine surveyor will give you a better idea of how the boat handles if you are not experienced in the size or type of boat you're looking at, too.

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  • Photo Credit marina image by Christopher Nolan from Fotolia.com
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