Many dream of owning a boat. If you are an outdoor individual and love the water, what better venue is there? You might already be considering the possibility of purchasing a boat to enjoy with friends and family. Many consider buying a used boat. This does not have to be a bad experience but there are a lot of common mistakes that people make. If your plans include buying a used boat, here are a few things to consider.

The biggest mistake that people make when they decide to purchase a used boat is they forget to consider the needs and accommodations suitable for their lifestyle and family. Consider, first, your individual boating needs such as, how big you need, how many seats you should have and any special features you want the boat to have. Never buy a used boat if you do not know what you need or what you are looking for. Be sure to talk over the specific details you want with your friends or family to make sure you are going in the right direction. Sometimes people will buy a used boat but realize later on that it does not come with enough room or that the boat is too big to place in a designated storage area. It is essential to be clear about the specific details with regards to what kind of boat you want figured out before you even start looking at the boats that are available.

Shop around!! It is so easy to buy the first boat you see without thinking of the possibilities. People sometimes tend to just jump right on the first used boat they see if it falls immediately into their price range. This is a mistake because there might be a better deal out there. You can avoid this mistake by looking in the classified ads for a few weeks before deciding upon the used boat you want and always make sure you take time to consider each boat carefully before you buy it.

It is also a good idea to talk with the previous owner of the boat to ask specific questions relating to the boat. How does the boat handle on the water, what water the boat was used in and what is the performance of the boat? Asking about the performance will reveal if this specific boat will meet your needs. Write down several questions to ask the previous owner before you even consider buying it. Another good question to ask the owner of the used boat is if they were the only owner of the boat or if it has been bought and sold previously. Knowing the complete history will help to avoid pitfalls down the road. No one wants to purchase a boat that may have been stolen.

It is always a good idea to make sure that you deal with someone locally so you can meet the person and take a look at the boat in person. A lot of people use the Internet to make transactions and buy used boats, but if the person is not in your area then you are usually just seeing pictures. Pictures are nice but you will not get a good look at the interior and exterior of the boat, which can help you detect problems such as dents or possible mechanical failures. Dealing locally will enable you to inspect the boat and bring boating experts to assist.

Just like with a car, you can check the history of the boat by using the Hull Identification Number or HIN, which is similar to the Vehicle Identification Number used for cars. The HIN will either be found on the insurance paperwork, registration or on the title and it will be 12 characters long. You might also find the HIN on the back of the used boat in the upper right-hand corner. You can use various online websites such as Boat History Report to check the background of the used boat which can tell you information such as previous owners, accident reports and whether or not the boat has a clear title. A lot of people do not know that there is a HIN and often will just take the word of the owner to be true and it can cost you a lot of money in the long run. You can avoid problems with the boat or problems regarding the title if you take the time to ask for the HIN from the owner of the used boat and run a report to make sure everything checks out okay.

Do not forget that first appearances can go a long way when it comes to buying something used like a boat. If you show up to look at a used boat and you find that it is dirty or in horrible condition, this is probably a warning sign that other more serious problems could exist. People make the mistake in thinking that the boat is just dirty and needs a good cleaning or thinking the seller has too much to do to clean the boat before selling it. This is not always the case and it might mean that the seller is trying to either hide something more serious or that they just do not care what condition the boat is in. It might not be a deal breaker but if the boat looks bad on the outside then it could mean there are problems on the inside and this could pose a danger to you and your family. When it comes to buying a used boat, you should avoid a seller who does not care about the exterior of the boat. In order to avoid complications that might be hidden from a dirty boat, you should just avoid buying a boat that looks like it has never been maintained or cleaned.

Whether buying new or used; shop around, ask questions, and evaluate your needs. Your boating life will be enhanced by your carefully made decision.

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“Essential Guide to Buying a Used Boat.” Yahoo! Contributor Network. Web. 10 July 2012.