Current state of used boat purchasing

Posted By: Puddle Pirate 2

Current state of used boat purchasing - 08/30/21 06:04 PM

As some of you know, I've been on this group for over 16 or 17 years. I sold my boat in 2009 and have been boatless since for a variety of reasons I won't go into but the most significant reason is we lived at at a home in PA that afforded great entertaining during the summers, and we spent most of our leisure time on land. Fast forward, and we moved to Virginia Beach about a year ago and love it. It's our dream come true, but now, with a condo and a lot less "entertaining" responsibilities, I have been boat shopping again (and boring you all with questions). We are in a great spot...nearest marina is 5 miles away, farthest is 10 miles away. But, the current boat market SUCKS, as you know. Low inventory + high demand = high prices and low value. No different here. Most boats in the range we are looking (28 to 31' cruisers) are pure junk. Typical 28' cruiser, 10 year old is going for over 70k with rotting drives, smelly and un-maintained cabin, cockpit upholstery that's never been properly cleaned and busted controls.. Center consoles are through the roof. saw a guy selling a 15 year old, 22' CC for 147k. Many sellers are re-listing after not selling and UPPING their prices to "keep up with the sales boom". Maybe a lot of debt or money issues in a post-Covid world?...dunno. And buyers are not helping. I have friends down here in the baoting world who tell me a lot of people have been blowing all their savings on boats or doing cash-out refis to buy a boat, etc. I have a lender friend who tells me boat loans have been doing VERY WELL the last year and many people are looking to 100% financing, which surprised me. I've heard, just like homes, sellers are giving those who waive surveys or pay full asking price preferential treatment

What's it like in your neck of the woods and what do you see as the future for used boat purchases in the next year or so? I have decided to keep looking, but not settle or toss away unrealistic amounts of cash. I'm hopeful fall will bring a bit more inventory. Waiting in the boat market has the benefit of obtaining newer technologies that come out on the used market, but of course, we'd like to be making memories now. I'm not getting any younger at 52 and had one brother who passed from cancer at 49 and another diagnosed just last week with terminal bone cancer at 70. He was looking forward to coming down and fishing...not gonna happen now.

Sorry for the rant. Guess I'm mainly just frustrated with the used boat market and wondering what you all think is going to be the trend. A lot of financially saavy folks here who's opinions I value like family.

Thanks! Mark
Posted By: captkevin

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 08/30/21 09:52 PM

Stuff around us is selling for crazy prices & right away. Good friend has a condo at lake of ozarks & said they always have a big boat show in September - they cancelled for this year because none of the dealers have any inventory.

We have been looking for a year or two. At this point we are going to have our current boat for a long time. No way am I going to pay what new stuff is going for.
Posted By: tpenfield

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 08/31/21 09:57 AM

I happen to be in the boat selling & buying market right now . . . So I'll share my thoughts and experiences.

I would say that in the spring and early summer the market had so little supply that if you wanted to buy you were paying ridiculous prices and not much to choose from. Since then, there has been a lot of boats come on the market, so things are working there way back to 'normal', but it does take time. Many sellers are still hanging out at high prices, hoping for their pot of gold.

One thing to look for in the market is . . . lowering prices. All of last year and back in the spring of this year you did not see that. Now I am starting to see that, and on a national scale. Folks are lowering their prices. As a seller, it is not a good thing to have to lower your price, because it demonstrates something to the potential buyers. I am also finding that there seems to be more 'lookers' than there are buyers.

Another thing to look for is if new boat dealers have boats on their lots to sell (or not). Most dealers near me are cleaned-out, but I do see one or 2 boats staying on their lots. With the high demand in the boat market over the past 2 years, many of the manufacturers are on allocation for resin and other raw materials, so the ability to produce new boats is limited. If you see/hear that raw materials are no longer being rationed, and if boats are staying on the dealer lots, then it would be a good sign.

Going forward, I would expect that many folks (more novice boaters) who have bought new/newer boats in the past 2 years will be selling them as they learn what boat ownership is all about. This will flip the supply-demand relationship back the other way and there may be abundant supply over the next few years. The problem will be asking prices will still be high, as many sellers of newer boats may be upside down on their financing, or prior cash buyers trying to get their money back out of their boat. This will most likely result in a stagnant market, until sellers blink and lower their prices.

From a macro perspective, the strong market is not just boats, but many big-ticket items, . . cars, RV's, houses, etc. If the economy stays strong into next year, the demand will still be there, but I suspect the supply will have caught up a bit, particularly in boats for the various factors mentioned.

You might just have to wait a bit longer for the market to come back your way.

Posted By: tpenfield

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 08/31/21 12:55 PM

A few more comments . . .

Social media has certainly changed the buying/selling process as there tends to be more information available as to what other buyers/sellers are doing. Facebook 'groups' are a good example.

I am on several FB groups - Formula, Formula 330, Chaparral, Donzi

As for my comments in the prior post about lots of 'lookers'.. .

There is a guy looking for a Formula 330. . .

He has been looking since about May of this year so 4 months +/-. No fewer than 30 F-330's have come on the market during that time. He has inquired about most of them, including mine. Many viable boats have come his way, yet he is still looking. the best that I can tell is that he is looking for the perfect used boat at a bargain price. (excellent condition, low hours, fresh water, plentiful options, trailer, . . . all at about $40K or less.) Well, if he wanted to spend $80-100K he would have a boat by now, because that's what those boats are worth in any market. It seems like he is looking for something that does not exist.

As for my comments about some folks hanging out at high prices . . .

Chaparral 327/337 SSX. . .

There have been 2 boats on the market in the northeast (VT & ME) over the summer. very similar boats, one a bit newer that the other. The older one was priced at @ $125K . . . the newer one was at $200K. Both seemed to stay on the market for a while. The one @ $125K was reduced to $120K and it sold. So, that tells you about the value of the boat. . . probably around $110-115K.

The one at $200K is still on the market. You have to wonder if the guy at $200K had a lower price if his boat would be the one that sold instead of the $120K boat, since his is 4 years newer.??? There are also similar situations with similar boats in the Cruisers Yachts and Cobalt brands of boats. They have been sitting on the market all summer with little/no price movement.

The nice thing about social media, is that you can often see who is selling the boats and who is buying them. I was going to look at the $120K Chaparral, until I saw someone post in the FB group about his 'new' 327 SSX facepalm idn
Posted By: Puddle Pirate 2

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 08/31/21 10:29 PM

THanks Ted, It's like you read my mind. Many of your conclusions are what I was thinking...about inventory, new owner surge taking a turn, but with upside down loans, etc.

There's also a lot in my area getting out of boating due to moves, old age, etc. Most of the boats I have been looking at are being sold by wealthy professionals moving out of the area to more serene places that are lower taxes and housing costs, like NC and the outer banks. Strangely, they are not offering good deals, quite the opposite...perhaps theyre jumping on the "sellers market" buzz. Others are using stimulus checks to upgrade or repower, thn selling at premiums. an Unusual number of refits going on right now...maybe because pocket cruisers are not available on teh new market anymore so theyre fixing up older ones.

Ive had my eye on a 2008 Chapparal Signature 290 which keeps going under contract and then things fall through. Broker keeps telling me buyers financing falls through, but I suspect there is an issue with the boat and surveys are backing people out. Owner did some recent engine work and I can't get straight answers. He had it listed at 79, then dropped to 87 and had a buyer. Fell through and he RAISED his price back to 79, got a buyer,fell through again, so something is definitely up. I'm sick of sellers playing games. Brokers in this area drop prices about every 2 months and several that I was looking at just dropped about 8-10%. I think I'm gonna wait and see what happens in fall.

Congrats on selling the Formula!
Posted By: tpenfield

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 08/31/21 11:53 PM

I would think there is something with the the Chap 290 given the 2 post-survey bail-outs.

I wonder if you can do some internet stocking and find out who had bids on the boat.

I'm still waiting for cash in hand on my boat, then it will be a bunch of looking and maybe bidding on a few boats.
Posted By: Silverbullet

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 09/05/21 04:10 AM

It'll sort itself out over time. Probably next year. It's been silly. We've been smart and bought a camper low, sold high. Bought the replacement at fair (non-covid) value.

Some of the boat places have inventory, even now. Last year they didn't.

A couple things we will be looking for in a future travel trailer. I really don't think I want one made after mid-summer of 2020. Like the housing boom prior to 2007, when demand is high, building gets sloppy. I think some of the best made campers will likely be right before 2020 and as such, we'll be looking for a 2016-2019 travel trailer to use when we go to the coast a few times per year. I'll keep the truck camper for lake and hunting trips. Right now, everything is super high. When the 2016ish campers start getting back to realistic prices, it'll be a good time to buy. The rub will be what Ted talked about. Do the priceses of 2020 and 2021 stay high (due to LTV) pushing that demand to the 2016-2019 models keeping them inflated.
Posted By: captkevin

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 09/07/21 05:23 PM

That's what everyone said last year.
Posted By: Silverbullet

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 09/08/21 12:39 PM

Originally Posted by captkevin
That's what everyone said last year.

True. But your options are either to wait it out, or bite the bullet and spend more for the same boat.
Posted By: captkevin

Re: Current state of used boat purchasing - 09/08/21 02:17 PM

Agree - waiting for us.
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