Best time to buy a boat

Best Time to Buy a Boat: A Complete Guide

Written by Boatsetter Team
March 18, 2021

When is the best time for you to buy a boat? As we’ll explore in this article, each season has its advantages and reasons for you to get out on the water. Understanding the different seasons for boat-buying can help you best the right time for you to make your specific purchase. Also, make sure you use Boatsetter to try out a wide variety of boats before committing to buying just one.

If you plan on going fishing on a freshwater lake, a skiff is normally what you would consider. One of these boats can be perfect for navigating across the water and getting in close to the banks when necessary.

If you are more into watersports, get onto the water on a speedboat. You can try out some tubing, water skiing, or even set up a wakeboard for your kids to skim across the lake’s surface.

So after you have decided on what type of boat to buy, when is the best time to buy it? If you live in Florida or California, the best time to buy is 24 hours a day, all year long. But for most buyers, winter is the time to get the best deals. For example, if you are based in the Northeast, where there are specific on and off seasons, you should always aim to purchase a boat during the off-season. This is because lots of owners and brokers might offer you steep discounts when business is slow since they still have several months to wait before most customers want to start hitting the water again.

The different times to buy a boat depend greatly on where you live and what type of boat you are looking for. Whether you are buying in the height of summer or early winter, knowing how the different seasons affect boat sales can greatly improve your overall shopping and purchasing experience.


Spring and Summer

Most boat owners would tell you that spring and summer are generally considered the worst times to buy a boat—simply because more people are out buying a boat, which drives demand higher and often leads to increased prices. Because there is more competition for boats and so many people shopping, many prospective boat owners avoid shopping in the spring and summer. 

There are also be some valid reasons people want to buy a boat during these months. Summer is the perfect boating season, so buying a boat in the spring allows you to prepare everything in time, and buying in the summer allows you to get your new boat in the water right away—as long as you don’t mind paying a premium price for the privilege. 



Boat Shows and buying boats

The fall often brings cooler temperatures and spectacular natural beauty among forests and hills full of bears, cougars, bears, and majestic birds. The waters are often full of hungry fish, and fall boating can be extremely memorable in plenty of boating locations across the country.

In addition to these excellent conditions, many boat owners would also argue that the fall is the best time for buying a boat from a financial standpoint. This is because most of the manufacturers start offering discounts around September and October. When demand begins to decline, dealers often provide all kinds of attractive incentives.

You can often find some of the best prices for both new and used models by searching for a boat during the fall. If you buy a boat in the fall, you can use the entire off-season to install equipment and accessories. You can also ensure that there is plenty of time to get the boat ready before starting the next boating season

This quieter period might mean getting a good deal on your boat. In many parts of the country, this is the slowest-selling season for dealerships, and they are actively trying to move their current year models off the showroom floor. This creates a buyer’s market where prices can sometimes be discounted a bit, and you may even be able to negotiate certain extra perks like winter storage or including a fall slip with the deal. 



The winter might seem like an odd time to buy a boat, but many people feel that this is the absolute best time because of the many boat shows held across the country. Boat shows bring together a wide selection of the most popular manufactures from all across the world, allowing you to explore various models across all ranges of price, size, and style. Exhibitors show off their new models and display all of the latest features. You can look at a big selection of boats from different companies without having to travel from one location to another. 

If getting the lowest price possible is a priority, schedule your boat buying purchase to match these kinds of dealer and manufacturer incentives. This usually means shopping in the fall and early winter, when dealerships are trying to clear the decks of current inventory to make way for the new model year boats. 

Sometimes this period overlaps with the boat show season, so you may look at buying a boat from a show. One downside to shopping for incentives is that you may have to be satisfied with what a dealer has in stock, rather than having the flexibility to order a model equipped with exactly the features you need. 

The boat show season usually starts around January and lasts through March, and you can often find incredible deals at these events. Even some of the dealers from warmer climates will be trying to sell their year-end inventory, so there is usually a chance for a great deal even if there is no off-season for boating in your area. 

Some companies look at their business monthly, and more deals tend to be closed near the end of the month, but you can sometimes get a good deal early in the month, too. Although prices can be lower toward the end of the month if you are not exactly sure what type of boat you want, avoiding the last week of the month may be a good idea. It might be better to visit the dealership during a quieter period when you might receive more thought and personal attention.


New Models 

Best time for buying a new boat

If you are looking for one of the hottest new models on the market, early spring may be the best time for you to consider buying a boat. Many manufacturers announce their new model-year offerings in late summer, and then they introduce them to the public at the winter boat shows. 

This means that the new model year really begins each summer, and boats for sale in the spring may sell for lower prices as the new boats start coming in. If you wait until late June or July to buy an older model, just be aware that boats can sell out quickly so you might miss out on the exact boat you had in mind. 


Used Models 


When you are looking for a used boat, keep in mind that there is often a scarcity of boats for sale during high-demand times. Recent developments have meant that the demand for boats is very high, so it might be a real challenge to find the type of boat you have been looking for. This is not necessarily the case with unusual older boats like trawlers or custom racing sailboats. 

If you are willing to fix up or repower an older boat, there may be plenty of options available at entry-level prices. But buying an older or project boat depends on you having enough patience to complete the work and turn the boat into something you can use. You should be sure to buy the boat soon enough to finish your project work and be on the water when the weather is right. 

Seasonal Versus Year-round Markets

In seasonal boating areas, spring and early summer are typically the high seasons for boat sales, but that does not always mean these are the best times to buy. If you are buying a new boat in the fall, dealers will sometimes cover winter storage costs. As soon as spring starts, you can launch your boat and enjoy some of the first good boating weekends of the season. This same situation applies to whether you are buying a new boat or a used one. 

Another thing to consider if you live in a place like Florida is the transient population. The market for boats in these areas tends to improve in the late fall and winter when the snowbirds fly south to escape winter. Many of the average boaters from Vermont or Michigan seem to think the boating season is just getting underway when they arrive in November, so the dealer and broker offices tend to stay busy. However, when spring comes, some of those same boaters might decide to sell their boats rather than store them for the next six months. As a result, you can sometimes find great deals in April, especially if you are buying a lightly used boat


Try to Keep Calm During the Process

negotiating boat price


As is the case with all major purchases, most boat-buying decisions can be emotional, so if you rush into things too much, the reasoning part of your brain may get ignored. You need some emotional desire, or you may never end up buying a boat at all, but always give yourself a little time to put your emotions in greater balance. 

First, do some research into the type of boat you might want, spend some time meeting with several potential sellers to learn more about the specific pricing options available. Then you can go about negotiating the final purchase when you believe the time is right. 

Although good new and used boats might sometimes be a little hard to find, your planning will give you the confidence to sign on the dotted line as soon as the right boat shows up. The anticipation of owning the boat and spending time on the water with your family can be an exciting part of the process. A good idea is to plan a big boat party for the day you take delivery so that you can celebrate your purchase in style.


Use Boatsetter to Help You Decide

Whether you decide to purchase a center console or a pontoon boat, you’ll certainly want to use it to enjoy the amazing sights and activities in your part of the country. Some boats are better suited to certain types of conditions than others, so it is a very wise idea to try out a range of boats to see which boating style fits you and your crew’s needs.

In addition to helping you try out the type of boat you may want to purchase, Boatsetter can help you get an idea of exactly how much your dream boat might cost you. One of the best ways to experience a luxurious boat is to get out on the water and rent a boat with a few friends. If you can split most of the costs, you’ll enjoy a pretty cheap day out on the water, and you’ll also have a much better idea of when you want to go ahead and buy a boat of your own.

Browse by experience

Explore articles