If you’re in the market for a boat and would rather not pay new boat prices, an auction might be the place to go. Auctions will sell boat repos in various conditions, usually at much lower prices than you’d find from a dealer. Of course, you should be cautious when buying anything used, but if you’re a careful shopper, you could find the boat of your dreams in great condition. The following tips will help you make the right choice.

Stick to your budget

It’s easy to let the excitement of the auction get to you. It can feel a little like a fun game you’ll only win if you outbid the other participants. Instead, figure out exactly what you can pay before you get there and try not to go over. Remember that there will be more auctions and more boats to bid on. If you’re patient, you’ll eventually find exactly what you’re looking for.

Decide what type of boat you want

As important as it is to have a budget in mind before you hit the auction, it’s equally as important to know what type of boat you want. To decide this, you’ll first need to become clear about why you want one. Do you want one for your once-a-year fishing trip alone, or do you want something recreational the whole family can use on the weekends? You also need to know where you’ll use it the most. Different types of boats are made for different types of water. For example, most bass boats are made for fishing ventures. They are usually smaller, holding about three or four passengers and are perfect for small lakes and rivers. Bowrider boats, on the other hand, are power boats made for larger groups, sometimes holding around 10 people. These are the boats you would use for water sports in lakes and oceans. 

Go early

One of the best tips for buying anything at an auction is to arrive early. If you’re allowed to inspect the boats, this will give you more time to do so, not to mention getting better parking. It will also give you enough time to ask questions, look up specs, and compare prices online for other similar models. 

Take a professional with you

If you don’t know much about boats, it’s important to take along someone who does. Or if you don’t happen to know any boat-owners, at least take someone handy with motors. You’ll want to check out all the boat’s systems, engine, tanks, hull, and electronics if you can, and taking along someone familiar with that will save you a lot of time and guesswork.

Know what you’re getting

Aside from checking the boat’s physical condition, it’s also helpful to know its history. Ask to see all the paperwork on the boat to see if it’s been damaged structurally in the past. That’s not always necessarily a deal-breaker, but you need to know what you’re getting into. Some severe damage might cause you repair problems in the future. You also need to know what type of title the boat has. Some boats that are damaged extensively or abandoned will be totalled and given salvage titles. This also isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but may come with some hurdles to jump over in order to get it insured. Additionally, you should do your best to find out how many owners the boat had, where it was docked, and for how long it sat without being used. You may not be able to get all the answers you want, but you should be able to find out some things just by asking the right questions. 

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