Houseboat prices vary widely, but they don't fluctuate much. After the initial inflation hit, late-model used houseboats can be highly affordable.
The average cost of a used houseboat in the United States is about $50,000. New houseboats are much pricier and rarely sell for less than $150,000. Late-model houseboats, after initial depreciation, sell for anywhere between $50,000 and $350,000.
In this article, we'll cover the average cost of purchasing a houseboat on the new and used market in the United States. We'll also go over the main factors that contribute to the price and how to find the best deals on the massive used houseboat market.
We sourced the information for this article from houseboat classifieds, houseboat manufacturers, and marine sales companies. Additionally, we performed analysis on new and used houseboat prices to determine cost trends and averages across the market.
Houseboat Cost Factors
Numerous factors contribute to the price of a houseboat. Some of these factors, such as age and size, are static values that can be referenced with pricing guides.
Others, such as condition and sentimental value, are entirely subjective and difficult to gauge ahead of time. Here are the most common and predictable factors that influence the average price of a houseboat.
As you might expect, older houseboats are generally less expensive than newer models. This is because older houseboats often need repairs, and their amenities and styling are likely dated. However, well-maintained houseboats with a bit of age are often the best deals.
Vintage House votes, such as converted Canal boats, are the exception to the rule. These vessels can sell for tens of thousands of dollars more than newer models do to their historical significance. As mentioned before, it's difficult to accurately gauge the historical value of a vessel and convert it into a price. This is why vintage houseboats vary so widely in price.
Next to age, the condition is the most important factor in houseboat pricing. Used houseboats of the same make and model can sell for tens of thousands of dollars apart based on factors such as interior condition and structural soundness.
A well-maintained houseboat with complete maintenance records stretching back 30 years could even be a more secure choice than a 10-year old houseboat with damage or signs of neglect. Condition and age don't necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Houseboats range in length around 20 feet, two more than 40 feet. Additionally, houseboat width varies dramatically. Canal-style narrowboats are no more than 6 feet 10 inches in width, whereas traditional American houseboats usually have a beam of 12 feet or more.
Generally speaking, the larger the boat, the higher the price. Again, the condition is a factor, and a larger boat could very well sell for the same price as a smaller boat in better condition.
Houseboats come in many varieties, and the price varies widely between them. Generally speaking, the most expensive houseboats are late-model cruising houseboats. These crafts have inboard propulsion, and they have become much more common over the years.
Floating houses, which are essentially just stick-built homes mounted on some sort of floating pad or barge, are usually less expensive. Smaller cruising houseboats from the 1980s and earlier by the most affordable, and they can be quite comfortable as well.
Modern houseboats are packed with technology, including high-tech navigational instruments, infotainment systems, abundant power outlets, and all the self-contained equipment necessary to make it all work. Houseboats can have bathtubs, large master bedrooms, fully-equipped kitchens, and other costly features.
Older houseboats tend to be more basic, which lends to them being more both like. These vessels are usually significantly less expensive (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars less expensive) due to the fact that they omit much of this expensive integrated equipment.
Often, houseboats sell with berthing arrangements already in place at a desirable location. Many popular marinas allow houseboat owners to transfer the rights to rent to slip, which essentially allows you to skip the waiting list. These waiting lists can sometimes last for years, which makes the high premium worth it to some people.
Other costs that are often indirectly included in purchase prices are moving expenses. If you can't keep the house both the same slip, you have to figure out a way to move it. This could involve both cranes, full-size tractor-trailers, tug boats, and other costly infrastructure.
Average Houseboat Cost on the Market
We took to the classified ads to get an up-to-date look at the price of houseboats on the new and used market. We found some of the most popular mid-level new houseboats to use as a reference, and we also gauge the price of typical well-maintained used houseboats of a similar type. Here's what we found
Most houseboat manufacturers now primarily produce large cruising houseboats, as the market for small, entry-level houseboats isn't what it was in the 1970s. As a result, the price of a typical new houseboat far exceeds the average price of a decent used houseboat.
From our research, we found that the average price of a new houseboat is around $150,000. Most new houseboats range and price from $70,000 to over $1,000,000, though the majority typical houseboats top out at around $500,000.
Depreciated 'Like-New' Houseboats
Purchasing a lightly-used houseboat is an excellent way to save money. Houseboats depreciate rapidly, which is great news for consumers who are in the purchase market. You can find a two or three year old houseboat for tens of thousands of dollars less than a brand-new model, and you'll get most (if not all) of the latest technology.
These vessels cost, on average, about $100,000 to $125,000. Prices range between $50,000 and $350,000. There are outliers, but the vast majority of well-made cruising houseboats can be found for less than $200,000 on the used market.
There are some excellent deals on the used houseboat market, and cost savings are significant when compared to new houseboats. The average price of a used houseboat in the United States is about $50,000. Prices range between $10,000 and $100,000, with some higher-end outliers priced at $150,000 or more.
Houseboats built between about 1985 and 2005 are generally the best deals, as they usually have enough modern technology. They're also in good enough condition to use, and most of the depreciation has already occurred. Houseboats built prior to the 1980s are also available for low prices, though they may lack the basic features that you've come to expect in your home.
Are Houseboats Getting More Expensive?
If you've noticed an upward trend in the cost of houseboats over the last few years, you're not alone. Indeed, the cost of both new and used houseboats has been on the rise for quite some time now. This is due in part to a decreased supply and increased demand, as people are more willing than ever to investigate alternative living arrangements.
Boat prices across the market have been going up as well. For example, the average price of a typical boat doubled between 2000 and 2013, and the rate has been increasing ever since. The same rule applies to houseboats, and the number is likely much higher. What this means is that buying today makes sense, as prices are likely to increase rapidly in the future.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson