After a long and frustrating search, I finally bought a boat, and I'm looking forward for its maiden voyage (for me, not for the boat...) this weekend. It's a 2004 Four Winns Horizon 190, 87hrs, Volvo 5L 220hp, and she's a beauty:
This is the second boat I invested significant time to go see and seriously look at.
The first one was an upsetting learning experience. Found it on CR, I called the seller several times and discussed the boat at length. I drove almost 100 miles to see the boat, liked it, and told the seller I want to buy it. The seller had another potential buyer waiting in the driveway for me to finish looking at the boat. I already called and had a surveyor lined up for the next day to come inspect the boat. The seller told me that even though I came first, if the other buyer takes it "as is" -- she can't wait for the inspection. "That's fair and sensible" I said, "I'm here with the kids, they're hungry and thirsty, I'm going to go to this restaurant around the block to feed them; can I at least get 'first right of refusal'? If he want to take it -- please let me know, I want to have a chance to match it." She agreed, and we went to eat. After an hour, she still did not call, and I drive back to her house. I see the other guy pull away with the boat! "He offered more than I asked for in the ad", she said. We drove away, and I am furious. The frustrating thing, I could not tell -- was I mad because I "lost" the boat, or was it because I felt "cheated"? Either way - I was seeing red... Bottom line - my wife was right - it was not meant to be.
After about two weeks I found this Four Winns on CR, over 100 miles away. Again -- some long conversations with the seller, and I'm set to go next day to see it. I told him about my experience, and he tells me that although there are 4 people coming to see the boat tomorrow -- (1) don't bring any deposit money because he's promising no to sell it to anyone until we all had a chance to see the boat and decide if we want it, and (2) the boat is in the water and the trailer is at the dealer, so no one is driving the boat home that day anyway. Next day I went to see it, drove it, and fell in love...
At this point I made a mistake (as far as what diligent boat buyers should do), and decided to buy it, even if he can't wait for a survey. I know it was hasty and that it could be a very costly mistake, but I hope that I will not regret it. Somehow, I felt good with the seller's honesty, maintenance and storage records that I reviewed, my own rookie-boater-but-engineering-savvy inspection, and how the boat felt in the water.
Wish me luck....
Some of you may be aware of the frustration I had over the mismatch between NADA and such pricing, and what dealers/sellers were asking for. I was looking for some "official" benchmark number to gauge what people ask for. Yes, it is not something that is set in stone, just some approximation yard stick. Given the variety of boats I looked at, the limited inventory of used boats, and my desire to get a boat before the summer's over -- the (sensible) advice of price monitoring and market-watching wasn't really practicable.
I decided to invest the $28 for one month in BUCValu. If you are looking for a boat -- this is Money WELL spent! I could tell good deals from not-so-good ones on CR, and I realized that the dealers are VERY consistently at about $4k-$5k above the BUCValu value (adjusted to the location). Apparently people are willing to pay these premiums to dealers (real or virtual peace of mind, convinience, etc.), because when I called some dealers about their advertised boats (on iBoats.com, boattrader.com, or their own site) -- some were already sold, faster than they can update the site. They told me straight that I should not bother coming to see the boat because they're not budging on prices.