some exceptions of note…

So, why do some boats cost what they do?

For those who follow the skewed logic of “You get what you pay for” the cost of a boat has everything to do with its value and condition. Just saying, but if you believe that, I have an excellent cast iron structure you may want to buy in Paris France.

The price someone is asking for a sailboat at best is just a single factor in what a boat costs and mostly reflects what the seller would like to get. Need I point out that we all wish we’d get more rather than less when we sell something? Sellers often look at the boats they’re selling with rose-colored glasses and are blind to any number of faults their boats may have. Far too often the asking price is either just a guess or looking online and seeing that someone somewhere is selling the same boat for a high price so that’s what the boat is worth.

As a buyer of boats, you need to realize that every boat is different and there is no price carved in stone for Catalina or Newport 30s. There are always a plethora of factors that come into play when deciding what a boat is actually worth. Things like overall condition, upkeep, and existing issues, are the basics. From my research, a Newport 30 in good shape with an engine that runs that you can sail or motor away in should cost around $15K. So that’s the price, right?

Well, no. There are always more complicated issues you need to factor in as well…

Why is the seller selling? There are a zillion reasons for someone to sell a boat. The chief of which is that they either need the money or they can no longer afford to own it. One big problem of boat ownership these days is the cost of having a boat keeps rising and, for many, to the point where they can no longer afford to keep their boat. Worse, a boat can hemorrhage money at an astounding rate, and while a seller could get more money for a boat in the long term, the costs of just keeping it in a marina can easily add up to more than the extra cash in the sale. This is why you can buy a boat worth $15K for $8K.

There’s a Newport 30 for sale that I’ve been following for the last three years which has an asking price of $20K and it’s a nice boat. Like most sellers, the asking price is just that. One puts down a number hoping that some fool will fall in love with the boat and just say yes and pay the $20K. I’m pretty sure that if anyone offered $15K the seller would say yes and be a pretty happy camper. Apparently, no one has. The downside for the seller is the boat has been sitting in a marina for 36 months at a rate of $400 a month, Do the math ($400 X 36 = $14,400). Throw in the cost of insurance and bottom cleaning and you quickly realize that, if the seller had priced the boat at a lot less, he’d be way ahead of the game money-wise. Sadly, the seller in question seems to be stuck in the must recoup the losses spiral and I expect it will never get sold until his heirs sell it off as a derelict boat some years in the future.

So, if you see a boat for sale at a good price it very well might be because the owner can do the math of what continued ownership works out to rather than its actual value or condition.

One last point. If a boat’s been for sale for over six months it’s either a real dog or just priced way too high. More on that soonish…

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