Know the Ropes

Repossessed Boat Sales


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If you’re currently interested in buying a boat, there’s a vast inventory available for you. Boat sales, economically speaking, seems to be in a buyer’s market.

If a brand new boat is not within your budget, naturally you go to the secondary market of “pre-owned” boats. But, many buyers forget to check and see what repossessed inventory is available. This market offers a tremendous opportunity to purchase a vessel at a rock bottom price. Make sure you are clear about any additional costs before you bid on the boat. For example, there may be additional fees from an auction depot or a repo yard. Read the rules, so there are no surprises.

The More You Know

Bank repossessed boats are sold after the bank has cleared title, as-is, where-is. Usually, you will be allowed to survey it, sea trial it and have the engines surveyed, like a typical transaction. These are all your costs, whether you buy the boat or not. If you are financing it, the lender will most likely require the survey.

Even if you are paying cash, do not skip the survey. You will gain a lot of information from the report that will help to diagnose any future problems you may have.

After having the boat surveyed, you can request the bank do some repairs (never hurts to ask), but do not count on the bank doing anything. For example, the batteries may be dead, but the bank will probably not replace them.

Even with the benefit of substantial savings in mind, be cautious when looking at repossessions. Keep in mind that once an owner knows or expects the vessel to be seized, the vessel maintenance is likely to be ignored. But, there are plenty of used boats you can buy from broker or owners that have suffered the same plight. You will run into that possibility no matter what market you look in.

Here are some companies that sell repos if you want to take a peek.


National Liquidators

Certified Sales, Inc.

Green Salvage

An Expensive Lesson

I stressed the point of getting a survey done because of personal experience. In the early 2000’s we saw a 1988 Scarab Panther one rainy Sunday morning while looking at boats online, at a repo depot in Connecticut.   The pictures posted online looked pretty good, and at the 19K asking price, we thought it was a bargain.  So the next day we loaded a brown paper bag with some cash and drove to Mystic CT to take a look at the boat.

The Scarab looked nothing like the pictures. It was well worn and neglected. We offered 10k for it and figured with some hard work and cash we could bring it back to life. We did not do a survey.  I think if we had taken the time to have one done, we would have passed on this money pit.

Once we got the Scarab to Maryland and it was in our shop the work began. By the time the rehab was complete, there were new engines, outdrives, steering, stringers, transom, paint, interior, electronics., etc.  Basically, a new boat. Our discounted repo wound up costing about 70K and 6 months of total devotion to renovation.

After enjoying it for two seasons, we were able to sell it for 25K. Not a great investment but a learning experience and the boat was so much fun!.

Shopping for Parts and Supplies

Expect to do repairs and replace equipment. West Marine has a great engine part finder system called SONAR (Sierra On-Line Application Resource) This will simplify your parts search and shipping is free for orders over $49 or if picked up at your local store.  They are also a great source for all your electronics and more.

Lastly, make sure you get GREAT Insurance.  Get a quote, even if you are currently insured.  Compare at Boat U.S.

It’s Out There

Once in a while, a fabulous deal comes along.  Just remember, buyer, beware and do your due diligence to make sure you know what you are getting into.  It may take some time but you could save thousands of dollars on bank-repossessed boats! Repossessed boats for sale can be located to suit most budgets and requirements – it’s just a matter of locating that perfect watercraft.