With the fall boat buying season approaching, buyers looking for a pre-owned boat can often find deals as sellers, not wanting to take on the upcoming expense of winter storage fees, are in the bargaining mood. However, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) estimates that 65,000 boats were damaged or lost when Superstorm Sandy struck. Now, nearly a year later, some of those boats are being sold on the used boat market, either in “as is” condition, or after repairs have been made. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if the seller is truthful about any past damage. However, the problem exists when sellers fail to fess up to a boat’s true condition. So how does a used boat buyer go into a purchase with eyes wide open? The BoatUS Consumer Affairs Department has these used boat buying tips – each may be an indication the boat has experienced hurricane damage.
Trace the history:When a car is totaled, the title is “branded” as salvaged or rebuilt and buyers know up front that there was major damage at some point in the car’s history. But few states brand salvaged boats and some states don’t even require titles for boats. “Anyone wishing to obscure a boat’s history need only cross state lines to avoid detection, which can be a tip-off,” says BoatUS Consumer Affairs Director Charles Fort. Also look for recent gaps in the boat’s ownership, which may mean that it was at an auction or in a repair yard for a long time.
Ask the seller: In some states, a seller is not required to disclose if a boat was badly damaged unless you ask them. If the seller hems and haws, keep looking.
Look for evidence of storm damage. A boat you are looking at has an increased likelihood of having been badly damaged in a storm if you see two or three of the following:
Again, having one or more of these indicators doesn’t always signal serious hurricane damage. The older the boat, the more likely some of these issues will pop up due to simple wear and tear. While something can be said about trusting your gut when seeing these red flags, make sure you have a professional inspect any used boat you’re considering. BoatUS offers a directory of surveyors at www.BoatUS.com/surveyors.