Ultimate Boat Buyer’s Guide 2018 [Sponsored]

Tips to make buying a boat smooth sailing for first-time boat buyers


Vision Pontoon on a lake

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Summertime in Charlotte is here, aka prime time for boating and enjoying the water at Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake or Lake Wylie. You may even be thinking about buying a boat.

First-time boat buyers may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there. At WCCB, we’re here to help. We’ll tell you what to consider as you start the boat buying process, what to research online, and what to ask a dealer or seller once you’ve decided which boat is the right fit for you.

Start Here: What to Consider Before Buying A Boat

Girl in bikini jumping off of pontoon boat into the water

Pontoon boats aren’t just for cruising!

Girl in bikini jumping off of pontoon boat into the water

What do you want to use your boat for?

There are so many options to have fun on the water, including fishing, waterskiing, wakesurfing, cruising, tubing and wakeboarding, to name a few. How you want to use your boat is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a boat.

If you love watersports like wakeboarding and waterskiing, a ski boat will provide the speed, power and smooth handling you need.

On the other hand, if you want a more versatile boat, you should consider a pontoon. Pontoons used to be known as slow and steady party boats, but times have changed. Manufacturers like Tahoe are now producing pontoons with enough power and speed for tubing. Some even have fun new features like water slides and diving boards! Plus, you can use pontoons for fishing, cruising and more year round, meaning you may not have to winterize your boat.

Should you buy a new or pre-owned boat?

Across the industry, one new boat is sold for every three pre-owned boats sold. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Similar to automobiles, boats depreciate in value as soon as they are purchased. Buying a pre-owned boat can be a great way to get an awesome boat without breaking the bank. If you do decide to purchase a pre-owned boat, be sure to have it inspected by a certified marine surveyor before completing your purchase.

On the other hand, new boats come equipped with the latest and hottest technology and offer nearly unlimited ways to customize your boat to make it exactly what you want. You can change the seating, speakers, cup holders and more to ensure that your boat is the perfect fit for you.

What is your boat budget?

It’s best to establish your budget before you get too far into your boat search. You would hate falling in love with a boat that is out of your price range. Researching price ranges for the type of boat you want at the beginning of your search will help you keep your expectations realistic and let you know when you’ve found a good deal.

Where will you store your boat?

If you don’t live on the water, you will need to have a game plan for where you’re going to keep your boat. There are lots of marinas on the major lakes. Some full-service boat dealers may even offer a boat storage option, so be sure to ask around while you’re shopping.

 What to Research Online

How reliable is the boat brand?

Just like when buying a car, you should consider reliability when purchasing a boat. Be sure to do your homework on each brand you’re considering before narrowing it down to different models. Buying from a brand that uses cheap materials and shoddy construction methods can result in hefty repair bills. Having to keep your boat docked for repairs can put a serious damper on your summer fun.

If you plan on buying from a dealer, what is the dealer’s reputation?

Read the dealer’s online reviews carefully, looking for trends (whether positive or negative) in what people are saying.

How to Evaluate a Boat Dealer

Interior of Charlotte Ski Boats showroom

What are your initial impressions of the dealer?

First impressions are important. If a dealer’s staff are genuinely happy to see you, they probably take customer service seriously. Buying from people you like is ideal, so trust your gut.

Plus, if the showroom is clean and organized, you can feel confident that the dealer will treat you with the same level of care and respect.

 What services does the dealer offer?

Ideally, you will want to buy from a full-service dealer that offers service, parts and accessories, watersports equipment and possibly even storage. This way, you won’t run into any issues where you can’t get your boat serviced.

How transparent are the dealer’s prices?

If you are having trouble getting basic pricing information, that’s a big red flag. If a dealer isn’t willing to be transparent with you when they’re trying to earn your business, how do you think you’ll be treated after the sale?

Will the dealer teach you how to use your boat?

Most dealers will show you the basics of how to drive your boat, but the best will do more than that. Some dealers can actually teach you to waterski, wakeboard, etc. so you can start enjoying your boat as soon as possible.

What equipment/accessories come included with the boat?

Beware of equipment or accessories that seem standard but are actually upcharges. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting before signing on the dotted line.

What kind of warranty does the dealer and/or manufacturer offer?

Some dealers or manufacturers farm out their warranties to third-party suppliers. Others have tons of fine print and exclusions. Ask as many questions as you need to understand what is covered and what isn’t.

Mastercraft ski boat speeding through the water

Does the dealer offer test drives?

One advantage of buying from a reputable full-service boat dealer is the ability to test drive the boat you’re considering. Some dealers will even let you use the boat for watersports so you know exactly what you’re getting when you buy.

Buying a boat can seem overwhelming, but it’s well worth the effort. If you’re dreaming of family fun on the water this summer, visit a full-service boat dealer like Charlotte Ski Boats today.

This content was sponsored by Charlotte Ski Boats, the premier MasterCraft Ski & Wakeboard boat dealer and Tahoe Pontoons boat dealer in North Carolina.