Where to buy a used boat? These are all the online and offline resources I used - Home Stratosphere

Where to buy a used boat? These are all the online and offline resources I used

New Hewescraft 180 Pro V boat

I just purchased a boat after spending a couple of months scouring the web, boat dealer websites and making many calls.  While we ended up buying a new Hewescraft boat, a used boat was definitely on our radar the entire time.  The reason we didn’t get a used boat is that there weren’t any used options in our area for the make and model we wanted. Actually, there was one for sale on consignment at a local dealer, but it was a 6-year-old boat that wasn’t much cheaper than a new so we went with new (read about how much a boat costs).

I’ve spent more time than I care to add up on used boat websites.  Here are your options and what I think of each.

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How to search for a used boat

I hate to break it to you but it’s merely a matter of going through all your options.  That’s what I did.  I pretty much used every website listed below as well as 6 boat dealerships in British Columbia.

Craigslist

Here’s what I like about Craigslist for used boat shopping:

  • It’s easy to filter to my location.
  • Sellers typically provide a lot of information about the boat as well as as photos.  Submitting to Craigslist provides sellers with pretty much a blank slate to add whatever they want.
  • No ads on the site… it’s clean.
  • All boats are used and the price is listed.  It’s not inundated with boat dealerships selling new boats with “Contact us” for pricing info.
  • Craigslist is one of the biggest online classifieds so there can be plenty of options.
  • Able to search for any keyword such as boat brand, type of boat, etc.
  • It’s easy to contact the seller.

What I don’t like about Craigslist for used boat shopping:

  • It can be hard to find specific boat makes.  While there is a search function, it’s pretty basic and too often it turned up many unrelated options.
  • Craigslist is antiquated in design. It’s not easy to use on mobile.

Kijiji

I spent quite a bit of time on Kijiji which is basically a more up-to-date classifieds website version of Craigslist. It’s popular and there are many used boats for sale on the site.  Here’s what I like about searching for used boats on Kijiji:

  • Contemporary design.  It has a very good mobile interface.
  • Easy to contact the seller.  I say this because some used boat websites offer a contact number but it ends up being the website itself which wasn’t helpful at all.  The site served as some intermediary which was annoying.
  • Very good search function:  I was able to filter down very nicely and Kijiji’s search function is quite accurate; better than Craigslist.

What I don’t like:

  • You deal with quite a few ads.  I know that’s rich coming from us who have a lot of ads on this site but it’s worth mentioning anyway.
  • While a great classifieds website, I found used boat listings on other sites that weren’t on Kijiji so I had doubts about relying on Kijiji being an exhaustive used boat listings website.  That said, no website I used was exhaustive.  In order to ensure you see all your options, you really need to use many of the online used boat options listed in this article. That’s what I did.

Local boat dealerships

Actually, if you’re prepared to travel, you don’t have to restrict yourself to local boat dealerships.  I narrowed down my options to 6 boat dealers in British Columbia. I was prepared to drive up to 10 hours to buy a boat if it was in stock.  I shortlisted these dealers based them carrying the boat brand I wanted (actually, I was open to two brands that essentially make the same type of boat).

The thing about boat dealerships is that many also sell used boats.  In fact, I nearly bought a used boat from a local boat dealership until I found a new boat for not a whole lot more money.  Dealers often sell used boats on consignment.  Note that not all dealers will offer financing on the used boats they sell; you may need to arrange your own financing or pay in cash.

What I like about buying a used boat from a boat dealership:

  • Trust:  Maybe I’m naive, but I like to think the dealership ensures the used boat is in good working order if its selling it.
  • Customer service:  The dealership I ended up buying a boat from has provided the absolute best customer service ever.  In fact, they’ve been superb post-purchase answering questions I have and so on.  If you buy privately, the seller may well ignore you or not know answers to your questions.  Dealerships have knowledgable boat people and in my experience, they are extremely helpful and friendly.  It’s like you’re in the club and they love boating so much they’re happy to help.
  • Legalities properly taken care of:  There are some legalities when buying a boat such as ownership transfer, registration, etc. which a dealership is equipped to handle and knows how to take care of it.

What I don’t like:

  • Chances are you’ll pay a bit more because the dealership gets a cut.  It’s possible the seller is willing to part with it for less for the convenience of having a dealership sell it on their behalf, but you never know.  Perhaps it’s somewhere in between.  I know as a seller, I’d probably prefer accepting a bit less money to have a dealership sell it on consignment for me.

Boattrader.com

Boattrader.com is our first-listed online used boat directory website.  Craigslist and Kijiji are more like classifieds whereas boattrader.com is more of a used boat directory website.

What I like about boattrader.com:

  • Lots of inventory:  Sites like this is where I started my boat search. When I started I didn’t know what I wanted so I learned a ton reading about many different boats listed for sale.  Once I had narrowed my search, boattrader.com offered many listings.
  • Excellent search function: Because it’s a directory site, the search function is outstanding.  You can search by boat type, boat make/manufacturer and location.  Once you search by brand, you can further filter by new, used, length, year, price, class, model, fuel type, hull type, and/or engine type.

What I don’t like about boattrader.com:

  • Too many listings are new boat listings where the listing does NOT include the price and instead has a “Request a Price” link.  It’s super annoying when trying to to research to establish a budget.  However, you can filter for only “Used” listings which removes these “Request a Price” link… but still doesn’t give you an idea as to how much a new version of that make/model will cost.

Boats.com

Boats.com is another new and used boat listings directory website.  You can restrict your search by country (top left dropdown menu) and then filter for new/used, boat type, make or model, price range and location.  It’s a very clean, easy, fast site to use.

Like Boattrader.com, most new listings have a “Request Price” link which takes you to the listing and provides contact information.  Again, it would be nice if it just listed the price.  I realize that’s on the shoulders of the boat seller but still, it’s not convenient when research and shopping for boats.

Limited inventory:  I didn’t find that this site offered all that many options for what I was looking for. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have more listings for different types of boats. The key here is to use many online boat shopping resources.

Yachtworld.com

If it’s a yacht you want, you might want to try yachtworld.com.  I wasn’t in the market for a yacht so I didn’t bother with this site. Actually, I did a quick search for the type of boat I wanted but nothing came up.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook marketplace is becoming a very popular online portal for buying anything used (and new).  Since so many people have FB profiles, adding a listing is a piece of cake.

What I like about Facebook Marketplace for buying used boats:

  • Most listings are used boats:  Most of the listings are used boats which is great when looking for used.  The other directory sites have mostly new boat listings with no pricing info.  The price is shown for all boat listings on Facebook Marketplace which is great.
  • Plenty of search filters:  You can really drill down pretty good for a used boat marketplace website.  It’s fast. Works great on mobile.  I suspect Facebook Marketplace is giving Craigslist and Kijiji a run for their money.
  • Easy to contact the seller: With built-in messaging, it’s super simple contact the sellers. It’s great for sellers who don’t have to provide contact info for the world to see.
  • Photos are awesome: The photo display and slideshow is awesome.  They’re big. They slide fast.  FB Marketplace offers the best photo display of all sites listed here.

What I don’t like:

  • You don’t know if the listing has been sold:  It’s hard to see whether the boats listed are still available.  It’s annoying and a waste of time to contact boat sellers only to learn it’s been sold.
  • Not a lot of information for listings:  There isn’t a lot of room to provide details about the boat.  On a desktop computer, it’s a narrow column on the right and I find sellers don’t provide all that much information about the boats which makes it hard to shop.

Boatdealers.ca (Canada)

For Canadians, Boatdealers.ca is a great used (and new) boat directory website. I spent quite a bit of time on this site combing boat listings.

It’s contemporary in design so it’s easy to use on mobile.

It offers plenty of search filters to drill down.

However, like other directory style sites, there were many new boat listings with no pricing information.

Also, there weren’t that many options for the type of boat I was looking for.  I found this site to be really good when I started my research just because it’s one of the easiest to use on mobile.

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