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How to buy and sell a boat

New to the boat market? Whether you’re a first-time buyer or novice seller, our tips will help you seal the deal in confidence. Let the negotiations begin!

Selling or ​buying a boat ​for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you’re selling, you don’t want your boat to languish on the market. If you’re buying, you want to make sure the craft you’ve set your heart on meets all of your requirements ​– ​and is worth every penny of its advertised asking price.

You’ll quickly discover the boat market feels very different to getting on the property ladder or buying a used car. There are legal aspects to boat-buying that have no parallels in the world of bricks and mortar. And, unlike cars, there are no publicly available values for used boats, which means you’ll have to put in more legwork when it comes to finding (or setting) the right price, which is why working with an experienced broker is worthwhile.


Using a ​brokerage service ​like the one we provide here at Aquavista can help you navigate these unfamiliar waters with ease. ​Buying a boat?​ From narrowboats to inland cruisers, you’ll
find lots of boats for sale all in one place, allowing you to view several potentials in one day.

Selling a boat?​ You’ll have access to our experienced brokers who’ll be able to guide you through the legal process and market your boat on your behalf.

But no matter how you plan to buy or sell your boat, a little extra knowledge can really increase your confidence before you launch yourself onto the market. So find out more with our beginner’s tips on buying and selling boats, and let the negotiations begin!

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What you need to know when buying a boat

If you’ve read our ​guide to residential living​ at a marina, you may be sold on the idea of making a boat your home. Chances are you’ll want to start your new, carefree lifestyle on the water straight away, making the compulsion to buy feel all-consuming!

But don’t rush headfirst into buying a narrowboat, widebeam or barge even if it does look like a bargain. The more time you spend doing research, the more likely you are to end up sailing off into the sunset with a boat that you can comfortably live on for years to come.


How do I buy my first boat?

There are four stages to the boat-buying process: research, viewing, making an offer and buying. Use our tips to answer the questions you’ll have as you get to grips with every stage.

The boat-buying research phase

Do I need a boating qualification to buy a boat?

No, you don’t need to hold a boating qualification in order to buy a boat whether that’s to live on or for leisure cruising. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Getting a boat qualification can lower your insurance costs and can help you navigate the waterways in total confidence. The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Course​ is perfect for anyone who wants to build up their skills before they buy.

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The boat-viewing phase

Should I view boats at a brokerage or look online?

Looking online will give you a feel for the market, but there’s no substitute for stepping on board. And, when you buy privately, you’ll find the boats you like the look of are located at opposite ends of the country, which makes getting to them all logistically difficult.

The best way to view lots of boats in a single day is to visit a brokerage. Aquavista has brokerages at five marinas across the country: ​Sawley ​and ​Kings ​in Nottinghamshire, ​Packet Boat​ in Middlesex, and ​Limehouse ​and ​Poplar ​in London. Here you can view a large selection of boats all in one place with no obligation or pressure to buy.

Perfect if you’re a novice, experienced brokers will listen to your needs and guide you towards boats that are suitable for you, so you don’t fall in love with something that’s not a great fit. With intimate knowledge of the market, you’ll know the boats you’re viewing are sensibly priced, plus you’ll get an honest appraisal of the condition of the boat and learn why the seller has decided to part with it.

How do boat brokers get paid?

A brokerage earns a commission in exchange for marketing, dealing with viewings and handling the legal process. As such it’s the vendor that incurs the brokerage costs, rather than the buyer.

Making an offer on a boat

Can you negotiate boat prices?

Nicely-kept, sensibly-priced boats tend to sell for their asking price. But if a boat’s been on the market for a long time, the owner may be prepared to negotiate, particularly if it’s not being used and continuing to cost them money for mooring and insurance. You could also find out when the boat’s licence, Boat Safety Certificate and insurance is set to expire. If any of these are imminent, there may well be room for negotiation.

Using a brokerage service can help you negotiate, letting you know what’s a realistic price to offer the buyer and helping you secure your dream boat at a fair price.

 

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The choices are endless - this could be you

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The buying process

What happens when my offer is accepted?

After your offer is accepted, you’ll sign a contract, pay a deposit then have a survey. Contracts normally give a two-week period for a survey to be carried out and are binding unless any problems are detected that haven’t already been declared. When a boat is sold at a brokerage, you get additional peace of mind. The deposit goes into a brokerage account which protects it should the vendor go bankrupt during the process.

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What you need to know about selling a boat

It’s always hard to part with your first boat. You’re bound to love it or you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place! But chances are your dream boat will be the second one you buy, because you know exactly what you’re looking for!.

While selling privately may be the cheapest option, it can be time-confusing and stressful. That’s why using a brokerage can be a good choice for first-time sellers. ​Aquavista’s brokerage service will help you with advertising and viewings, and can help guide you through the legal aspects. But not only that, they’ll share your passion for your boat and your love of canals and waterways.

 

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