Do Pontoon Boats Hold Their Value? (Pontoon Depreciation)

An investment is essentially something that you pay for today with the opportunity of earning you more in the future. With that in mind, it’s easy to see that a pontoon boat isn’t really what you might call an investment despite most people seeing it that way. But then again, that really depends on how you use it and take care of it.

If you’re on the brink of buying a pontoon, you might find yourself asking -- do pontoon boats hold their value? So before you pull out your card and pay up for that shiny new pontoon boat, here’s what you need to know.

Do Pontoon Boats Hold Their Value?

Consider a car. After buying a new set of wheels, your vehicle will lose about 15-20% of its value after its first year. Some models can depreciate as much as 30% after a year from its purchase date.

After five years, most cars will lose an estimated 60% of its purchase value. So if you got your car for $40,000, you might only be able to sell it for $16,000 after its fifth year. Ouch.

In a lot of ways, pontoon boats depreciate at a similar pace. So no, pontoon boats don’t really hold their value very well. But then again, there are a lot of factors that come into play that might preserve the boat’s value after you purchase it.

That said, bigger boats with stronger engines are more likely to retain some of their worth down the line. It also matters what kind of upgrades and add-ons you purchase for your boat, since these things tend to add value to the vessel all together.

According to most boating enthusiasts, a pontoon boat will depreciate drastically for the first two to three years. After that, depreciation tends to plateau until around the 12 year mark.

All of that considered, you may want to think about whether you’re really serious about your boating hobby if you’re just in it for that initial high. If you think you can get good use out of a pontoon boat for the next 12 years or so, then it might be a good idea to buy one.

Crunching the Numbers

pontoon boat depreciation

To make things really specific, let’s see how much you’re actually losing if and when you decide to buy a pontoon boat.

Say you purchased a boat that’s slightly more expensive than the average brand new car, which places it at around $50,000. The moment you sign those papers and have the boat released to you, it automatically depreciates by about 10% to 15% of its value

So by the time you get your hands on your $50,000 pontoon boat, it will only resell for about $42,500 to $45,000. After that, your boat will continue to depreciate at a slightly slower ace until year three. While you might lose $5,000 to $7,500 on the first year, your boat might shave off between $2,000 and $2,500 on its second and third years.

After that, things get pretty stable with maximum depreciation sitting at $1,000 yearly for the next nine years. Of course, good maintenance practices and upgrades can help reduce that amount, with well-kept boats depreciating a mere $400 to $500 for the subsequent years.

On average, pontoon boats will sell for a reasonable price up until their 12th year, after which you can’t really expect to sell it for much. However there will always be some exceptions. Typically though, a pontoon boat will have lost 33% to 50% of its original value, depending on wear, tear, upgrades, add-ons, maintenance, and even its size and power.

If you’ve got a really old pontoon boat on your hands (one that exceeds the 12 year mark), you might still be able to sell it given that its new owner can still refurbish and repair it to working condition. A really old pontoon boat should still earn you anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 bucks, which definitely isn’t that bad.

At the end of the day, you don’t really buy a pontoon boat with the hopes of selling it for a profit in the future. The real essence of buying a pontoon is that it becomes a vessel (literally and figuratively) so you, your family, and your friend can forge memories which ultimately become the real investment.

What Affects Resale Prices?

While the numbers up top give you a better idea of what pontoon boat prices might look like after a few years, there are a bunch of factors that can change how things go. Here are a number of things that can affect resale prices:

Size and engine power. Bigger boats with more powerful engines tend to hold their value much better.

Upgrade and add-ons. Various aftersales elements can significantly help prevent depreciation.

Boat brand. Pontoons that come from more prominent brands with better aftersales support and parts availability hold their value better for obvious reasons.

Maintenance. A pontoon boat that’s routinely cleaned and sent in for maintenance checks will perform much better down the line.

Should You Buy a Second Hand Pontoon Boat?

used pontoon boats

Considering pontoon boat depreciation, you might find yourself thinking that buying second hand would be a totally bad idea. But that’s not entirely true. If you’re still on the fence about buying brand new or second-hand, here are some questions to ask yourself:

How often do you plan to use your boat? If you don’t think you’re going to use your pontoon boat too often and you really just want to mess around on the water now and again, second hand might be for you.

How much are you willing to spend? No doubt, brand new pontoon boats can be incredibly expensive. Unless you’re willing to spend that much, then a good second hand boat should provide you a similar experience without incurring such a large expense.

Are there options available? It can be tough to find a good second hand boat on the market. Lots of boats can seem run down and dilapidated. So if you happen to find a pontoon that’s still in working order, then you might want to jump at the opportunity.

The Value of a Pontoon Boat

Do pontoon boats hold their value? Well, not exactly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an investment in its own right. At the end of the day, a pontoon boat is the perfect way to forge new memories with friends and family that you might not otherwise experience with any other kind of boat or vehicle for that matter. So if you’ve got the money for it, a pontoon boat makes a great purchase.