Houseboats are a great way to downsize. Where to buy a houseboat safely? You can get your houseboat from a broker, manufacturer, or independent seller.
Downsizing and traveling have become very popular for both families and retirees. Many people choose to take an RV on the road, but a houseboat offers an even greater adventure for those who enjoy quiet and being at sea. Buying a houseboat is a great way to see the world without being tethered to a landlocked home.
There are several places where you can buy a houseboat. Most buyers purchase theirs through a broker, who acquires houseboats and resells them to interested buyers. You can also buy a houseboat directly from the manufacturer, directly from a previous owner, or at a boat show.
The most affordable way to buy a houseboat is directly from the manufacturer or at a boat show. This cuts out the middleman fees that brokers normally charge. However, brokers have a great deal of expertise and can be worth the fees because they will help you find the right houseboat for your needs. Buying a houseboat directly from the previous owners can be hit or miss because there is no warranty and you never know if the seller is disclosing everything.
Sources include Just Houseboats, BoatSafe, Go Downsize, Houseboat Magazine, and Discover Boating.
4 Ways To Buy a Houseboat
Buying a houseboat is a lot like buying a car. You can buy a car directly from the previous owner, from a used car lot, or from a dealership. You also have the choice to buy a brand new car or buy a used car for a little cheaper. It’s the same with a houseboat.
There are 4 ways to buy a houseboat:
- From a broker
- From the manufacturer
- Directly from the previous owner
- At a houseboat show.
Each option is a trade-off between price and piece of mind. For example, brand new boats will be more expensive, but you can sleep easier knowing that it is unlikely to break down anytime soon. Buying used from the previous owner is the opposite; it is far cheaper, but you can’t always guarantee that the previous owner told you everything.
When you decide where to buy a houseboat, it is important to consider your risk tolerance and how much you want to pay.
What You Need To Know About Buying a Houseboat From a Broker
A broker for houseboats is like a real estate agent meeting a car salesperson. The broker is a middleman between the manufacturer and the buyer. On one hand, working with a broker can make it more pricey to buy a houseboat because they increase the boat’s cost to get their fee. However, first-time homeboat buyers may benefit from having a broker on their team because brokers have a lot of valuable knowledge.
As real estate agents, brokers are knowledgeable about the market, what inventory is available, and how to serve the needs of the buyer. Your broker can help you find a houseboat model that works for your family.
One advantage of going to a broker instead of a manufacturer is the variety. Whereas manufacturers will only have one brand and a handful of models to show you, brokers will have houseboats from all different makers, in many different styles, and with a variety of features. This allows you to compare boats and choose one make and model over another.
For some buyers, working with a broker is well worth the extra cost. If you live in a landlocked area and need to travel to purchase your boat, the broker can make the process go smoother. Additionally, if you don’t know much about boats, a broker can help you navigate the complicated process of purchasing one.
In the same way that used car salesmen often get a bad rap, brokers are often characterized as seedy, greedy, and ready to scam you. However, this is not normally the case. Most brokers get their business through word of mouth and online reviews. It does not benefit the broker to sell you a defective houseboat. When you work with a broker, they will want to sell you a high-quality houseboat that you will love and enjoy for years to come.
Where To Buy a Houseboat From the Manufacturer
Buying a houseboat from the manufacturer is one of the safest and most affordable ways to purchase your new floating home. Manufacturers often sell directly to consumers, which reduces the overall price tag for you because there is no middleman.
In addition to the affordability, buying from a manufacturer is appealing because you can get a great warranty. Much like a brand new home, you can get a warranty on both the houseboat itself as well as the appliances inside. If something breaks prematurely, the warranty may cover it, which will save you money.
When you decide to invest in a houseboat, your first step should be to research different brands, models, and builds to see what you like. Once you settle on a manufacturer, you can contact a salesperson to get more information about their boats. Some manufacturers will have a showing room with different models that you can look at, while others will have online photos and videos for you to see.
Can I Buy a Houseboat Online From the Previous Owner?
Another option for buying your houseboat is to buy one from the previous owner. There are numerous online platforms, such as Craigslist or Marketplace, where individuals can resell their boats. This option is best for people who are experienced houseboat owners and know what to look for in a boat. Buying a houseboat from the previous owner has advantages and disadvantages; it may be right for some people but not for others.
- More affordable than buying from a broker.
- You may be able to buy a houseboat locally without needing to travel to see it.
- The previous owner can be an excellent resource if you have questions about maintenance and repairs.
- Buying a used houseboat is more sustainable than buying new one.
- Houseboats from previous owners often have lots of personalities and unique features.
- There is no warranty or guarantee that the seller is being upfront about the condition of the boat and what repairs it needs.
- There may be online scams targeting houseboat buyers.
- A houseboat you buy from the previous owners will be on the older side, so it may require more repairs and not have up-to-date features.
- In certain regions, it may be hard to find someone reselling their old houseboat.
- You will probably not be able to get financing if you buy this way.
If you decide to buy a houseboat from the previous owner, it may be beneficial to have a boat surveyor inspect the houseboat before the purchase is final. In the same way, home inspections are an important part of the homebuying process, a boat inspection can help you know what you are buying.
There are 2 types of boat inspection: a pre-purchase inspection, which informs the buyer of any potential problems, and an insurance inspection, which helps the insurance agent determine how much coverage is needed.
Buying a Houseboat at a Boat Show
The final way to buy a houseboat is at a boat show. Depending on your area, there may be boat shows once or twice a year. During a boat show, you can see different models and have a salesperson explain the different features.
Most major brands will display their newest houseboats at a boat show, so you can easily compare different models. It is usually cheaper to buy a houseboat at a boat show than it is to buy it from the manufacturer during any other part of the year. This is because manufacturers are more willing to negotiate and make a deal at a boat show because they want as many sales as possible. Buying a show model can also bring down the price tag a little more because the boat has more use from being toured, so it isn’t worth as much as a houseboat that has never been touched.
When you attend a boat show, it can be easy to overspend or to be drawn in by fancy extras. Here are 6 ways to get the best deal when you buy your houseboat:
- Set a budget and stick to it. If you are not buying a boat with your spouse, bring a friend or family member to help you stay on budget.
- Make a list of brands that you are interested in and seek out those first.
- Pre-research any models you are interested in and prepare questions ahead of time.
- Inform the salesperson or representative of your previous houseboat experience. This will help them answer your questions in a way that you understand and will make it less overwhelming for you.
- Walk away if you need to. There is no law that you have to purchase a houseboat at a houseboat show. It’s not the only way and you still have options.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask for what you want. If you don’t see a model you like, you can ask if one is available for later purchase.
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