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Should I Buy a Boat at a Boat Show?

If you’ve ever thought about buying a boat, whether it’s an inflatable RIB, fun bow rider, weekend sailboat or ultra-fast sports boat, you’ll also have asked yourself, ‘where is the best place to buy a boat?’ Boat shows are one of the industry’s top events, whether they’re a small local affair or one of the best international boat shows in the world. They offer hundreds of boats for sale, experts to chat to, accessories and water toys to discover and a fun celebration of the boating lifestyle. But are they the best place to buy a boat? Here we take a look at the pros and cons of buying a boat at a boat show, and whether it’s the right choice for you.


Why You SHOULD Buy a Boat a Boat Show


1. You Can Compare Lots of Different Boats

Boat shows are packed with the latest models from all of the top manufacturers, as well as smaller or up-and-coming boat builders. It makes it easy to wander from one to another, compare the styles, finishes and technical features and have a lot of choice all in one place. Nowhere else will you be able to have so much variety to look at and it makes choosing what suits you much easier. Having said that, whether you are intending to buy a boat a boat show or not, attending the shows to see all these different models will help you narrow down your decision that you can ultimately buy later on. 


2. There is a Huge Amount of Competition between Traders

With such a high traffic space and a lot of boat traders in one area, boat shows make for competitive environments. While in the past, dealers and brokers may have offered incentives and discounts, or been willing to negotiate to secure a deal on the spot, in the current market these are less likely. Having said that, dealers will still be showcasing the very latest boats and do their best to get you to sign on the dotted line. You can also ask dealers their thoughts on competition boats as they’ll be more than happy to point out any drawbacks that you may not have considered. Take their comments with a pinch of salt but use the information to do your own research and make an informed decision. 


3. You May be Able to Buy an In-Stock Boat

With demand high for boats in recent years the waiting list for new-builds has grown ever longer. While boat show dealers will be offering the very latest models, with a waiting time of months or even years for the larger models attached, they may also be able to offer in-stock boats. You won’t get to customise your boat, but if you’d rather not wait you may be able to sail away with it in a few short days or weeks. Post-pandemic demand on boats has been unprecedented and while it is less likely to find in-stock boats at boat shows these days, you may be in luck when it comes to smaller models. 


Why You SHOULDN’T Buy a Boat at a Boat Show


1. You won’t get to Sea Trial the Boat at the Show

While there are some boats on the water at boat shows the vast majority of models being showcased by brokers and dealers won’t be. Or if they are they aren’t available for sea trials during the show. Which means you’d be making a huge decision without having the chance to test drive it. Many brokers and dealers will include a clause in the contract stating that the sale is subject to a satisfactory sea trial, so you may get the opportunity to head out to sea at a later date. The clause however may state that the deposit is or isn’t refundable at this point though, so take that into account when negotiating a deal as you don’t want to lose out on a hefty deposit if you’re not satisfied. 


2. There is a lot of Pressure to Make a Decision on the Spot

The very nature of boat shows, with their excitement and buzz, means that you can feel under pressure to make a big decision that you’re not quite ready to make. If you’ve gone to a boat show with a specific model you have your heart set on, then it can be an excellent time to grab a bargain. Otherwise, you may want to take your time, think things over, compare models and make sure you’re making the right decision. 


3. You May have to Wait a Long Time for Your Boat

Another reason why it may not be a good idea to buy a boat at a boat show is that you might be in for a long wait for your purchase to arrive. With the current demand on boats, waiting times for new-builds - even base models without customization - can be months or, for superyachts and larger models, years. 


4. You Can Only Buy New Boats at Boat Shows

Boat shows are all about showcasing and selling the manufacturer’s latest models, and so you’ll mostly have new boats on offer to buy (this is not always the case when it comes to larger boats or superyachts for sale). It’s important to remember that a used boat could offer you fantastic value for money, and you could end up getting a better model or one with more accessories for a lower price. Of course the warranties don’t exist with used boats as they do with a brand new one, and that can create unease for some first time boat buyers, but it’s worth remembering that a new boat will immediately lose up to 33% of its value. Do your research and weigh up the pros and cons of buying a new boat versus a used one. Check out our guide to buying a used boat


To Buy or Not to Buy?


There is no clear answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t buy a boat at a boat show and many variables come into play in making that decision. Whether you plan to buy at a boat show or not, attending one is certainly going to be a worthwhile exercise in your boat-buying journey. You’ll get a huge variety of new boats all in one place, be able to compare similar models easily and talk directly to dealers and brokers. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular model and are ready to sign on the dotted line then boat shows can be a good time to do so. But it isn’t always plain sailing, and pressure to buy can be intense as you get swept up in the excitement of the event. The key to attending a boat show is to know why you’re going and what your objective is, and ultimately have a great time and learn more about boats. 

Rightboat.com is one of the largest marketplaces for buying and selling new and used boats of all sizes across the world. Get connected with the best brokers and manufacturers in the industry from the comfort of your own home, compare models and specifications, peruse through photographs and narrow down your search for the perfect boat for you. 


Written By: Rightboat Team

The Rightboat team

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