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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

How to Best Negotiate the Price of a Boat at Your Next Boat Show

Heading to a boat show? Set a firm budget, research thoroughly, be clear about your needs and build friendly relationships for the best deal.

This coming week will bring over 100,000 people to the Annual Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in Florida. This is the perfect chance to learn more about the types of boats you wish to purchase, the value of specific boat models you’ve always dreamed of owning, and get some insider information on the latest trim trends, accessories, or upcoming design features that will surely show up in the future.

When you visit a boat show to immerse yourself in the many different models available for purchase, you want to take a moment to mentally prepare.

Every boat dealer and private seller will expect you to negotiate a little during the buy-a-boat process. Attending a boat show is the perfect chance to bring out your negotiation skills and secure a price that will get you on the water as much as possible.

Is Negotiation at a Boat Show Okay?

Contrary to shopping in a retail establishment in the USA, boats for sale at boat shows are not always priced at their final point of offer. Most dealers will expect any potential buyer to haggle a little to get the most out of the deal.

Just as you would negotiate when purchasing a new vacation home, antique car, or quote for that remodel you’ve been wanting, negotiating boat prices is a natural part of the boat show process. Knowing how to negotiate your boat’s value is crucial to getting the most value.

Tips for Finding Your Best Boat Price

#1 – Keep Your Budget in Mind

Before you even set foot at a boat show:

Determine what you can realistically afford.

Remember, the yacht price tag is only part of the story.

Account for additional costs like maintenance, insurance, and storage.

You want your “rock bottom price.” This is the 100% final offer you will accept before you decide to walk away. Be firm on that price point. The more you show you are determined, the likelier you will get a good deal.

#2 – Have a Plan of Action for the Boat Show

Research, research, research! You will come across many types of boats, boat brands, and dealers that will be eager to help you out – and try to get the most out of you at the register. Familiarizing yourself beforehand gives you an edge in negotiations.

Think about how you’ll be using your boat, any amenities you “must have,” and who will be captaining the boat the most long before you show up at the boat show.

#3 – Don’t Be Scared to Walk Away

Sometimes, the best deal is the one you don’t make. If a dealer isn't meeting your terms, stepping back is okay. This powerful negotiation tactic works just as well at your local boat show as it does in business finance.

You are showing you have a point where the deal is sunk. Odds are the boat dealer and private boat sellers will be far more motivated to make the sale at a lower price than to go home empty-handed.

#4 – Be Specific with Your Needs

Boat shows are the perfect place to be a little needy. Whether it's a particular accessory, motor type, or style, knowing precisely what you want helps streamline the negotiation. It can also aid in getting additional perks thrown into the deal.

Most dealers have cultivated relationships on the boat show circuit. If they don’t have what you want, they can probably suggest someone nearby for a small cut in the sale price.

#5 – Mention Boat Trailers & Storage

When negotiating, bring up the topic of boat trailers and storage options. Some dealers might offer package deals or discounts.

Don’t forget, you’re at a boat show. That means all the fantastic accessories, like storage option providers and trailers, will also be on display. Take advantage of this one-stop-shopping experience.

#6 – Cultivate a Relationship

Building rapport with boat dealers can open doors to exclusive offers. They're more likely to cut a better deal for someone they like.

Plus, you will be developing a contact point for any future questions you may have, insurance providers with good reputations, or local insights you may not get elsewhere.

In exchange, these boat dealers would expect you to recommend them to your friends you know who are also in the boat-buying market.

#7 – Compare to Google, NADA Guides, and BUC Values

Knowledge is power. Familiarize yourself with the boat values using online tools and guides. This ensures you're getting a fair deal.

NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) guides and BUC (BUC’s used boat price guides) values are exceptional tools for getting a better idea of the actual retail value of the various types of boats you’re considering at your boat show.  

#8 – Take a Look at Last Year’s Models

Last year’s models can offer just as much luxury and functionality but often come with a more attractive price tag. Don't overlook these treasures.

Boat Dealers are going to be highly incentivized to offload any older models. Unless these are specific years that represent an antique or priceless used boat, you can find a decent deal, so you have more financial resources for upgrades, amenities, or add-ons.

Final Thoughts on Your Boat Show Negotiation

Be patient and have fun finding the boat of your dreams. When you attend a boat show to buy a new boat, you’re participating in an exhilarating journey.

Don’t forget to factor in the costs of insurance, repairs, and storage for your rock-bottom offer point. You don’t want to walk away from a great deal because you didn’t set a budget in the beginning.

When you do make your first offer (and make it low to start), remain respectful. Like everyone else in the world, you can grease way more wheels with a bit of honeyed professionalism and respect for the profession these boat dealers are in.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for some extras, but never get too hung up on one boat model. The vast ocean of options awaits you at a boat show, and there are plenty of sellers you can visit.


Embarking on the adventure of buying a boat is a thrilling endeavor. With these negotiation strategies in hand, you're equipped to find the best deal at your next boat show.

Speaking of boat shows, don’t forget – the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show starts this week! The 2023 Boat Show runs from October 25th to the 29th, with over 1,300 boats on display from 1,000 exhibiting brands.

Remember, there are some great seminars and fishing clinics, as well as the best of show categories, delicious foods, and a superyacht village for those hardcore boat buyers.

Good luck, stay calm, and get to negotiating. This is a fantastic opportunity to find the boat of your dreams!

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