When is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Pontoon Boat?

So, you’ve been enjoying trips out on the lake with your best bud and a few other friends aboard his fancy new pontoon boat. And while you might have been completely content just sitting around as a guest those first few times, you’re probably starting to feel like you might want to have one of your own. Okay, who are we kidding - you really want one.

While you might have secured your spouse’s permission to buy a boat, a quick scan of the market proves that those things can be expensive. Fortunately though, buying a boat at the right time might help dial down the cost. So exactly when is the best time to buy a pontoon boat? Here’s what you need to know.

Best Time of Year to Buy a Pontoon Boat

There’s a lot more to the right timing than just choosing a month and sticking with it. For instance, some pontoon boat dealerships will come up with promos and sales at different times throughout the year, especially during certain holidays. So you might be able to get a good deal if you wait for those seasonal offers.

Then again, if you’re buying secondhand, boat owners don’t really care about timing. They’ll liquidate their boat when they find it necessary. This means you should be able to find a good deal on a secondhand pontoon boat any time of the year - it’s just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

However if you really want to know when prices tend to consistently dial down, it’s during autumn and winter. This time of the year, boat dealerships see a significant dip in sales because no one wants to buy a boat when the weather won’t allow its use. So to increase demand, they dial down the prices on most of their boats.

Another thing to remember is boat shows. Typically scheduled between December to mid-March, boat shows put a number of pontoon boat brands all in one place. And because they’re all competing for your business, they’ll do pretty much anything to sweeten the deal. So aside from discounts and price cuts, you can also expect a lot of them to toss in freebies to entice you to make a purchase.

Important Things to Remember When Buying a Pontoon

There’s a lot more to buying a pontoon than just the price tag. Once you get your hands on that boat, there’s going to be a lifetime’s (hopefully) worth of maintenance and care that goes into keeping it in tip-top shape. So before you pull out that piece of plastic from your wallet, remember these important considerations:

Purpose and Passengers

There’s a lot of emotion involved when buying a pontoon boat. Most of the time, boat buyers tend to be blinded by the first viable pontoon boat they see, giving into desire rather then weighing things with tact and logic. Unfortunately, this can result to a very expensive episode of buyer’s remorse, especially when your boat arrives and it just doesn’t seem to match your purpose.

Before you make that purchase, see to it that you consider some of the essential factors. Where do you plan to take your boat? Who do you want to take with you? What do you think you’d want to use your boat for? All of these questions should help you zero in on a boat that truly meets your needs.

Maintenance Costs

From cleaning, to repairs, marina fees, upgrades, winterizing and more, there’s a lot that goes into taking care of a pontoon boat. If you’re a hands-on boat owner who likes to do things yourself, you might spend anywhere from $600 to $1,200 bucks a year on basic maintenance. Owners who like to pay professionals to do the dirty work for them might spend upwards of $2,500 bucks a year.

If you don’t have your own place at home to moor your boat or to dry dock, you’d be looking at added fees at the local marina. During the winter, you might spend an average of $500 just to make sure that cold weather doesn’t cause any damage while your boat is in storage.

So yes, while you might be able to cover the cost of the boat itself, there’s still a lot to think about in terms of keeping it operational and fit for use. Try to factor in these estimates to find out whether your monthly budget can accommodate caring for a pontoon boat.

Depreciation

It’s a well known fact that pontoon boats don’t hold their value very well, especially if you’re buying a low end model. Trends have shown that a pontoon boat will lose 10% to 15% of its value the moment you sign the papers. Yup, that fast. It will continue to lose 10% of its original value with each passing year, for the next three years.

Depreciation then slows down to about 2% to 3% annually for 10 years. So by the time you decide to resell, you might only be able to make about 40% of its original price. So yes, they’re not exactly what a financial specialist would call an ‘investment.’

If anything, a pontoon boat is more of a sentimental investment. That is, you probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy a lot of the things you experience on the boat if you didn’t have it. Investments come in the form of memories with family and friends, and that’s something most of us would be happy to pay for.

Tips for Buying a Pontoon Boat Off Season

best time of year to buy a pontoon boat

Boat buyers who really want to cut down on the cost of their watercraft might be able to get really good deals during off season. But even then, there are several other clauses that you might want to remember to get the best deal.

Wait for the Last Day

The last day of a boat show is typically the time when dealers pull out all the big guns to make a sale. Buyers also tend to feel more impressionable, imbued with the idea that this is their last chance to snag a deal. Typically, the last day of a boat show is when sellers roll out every trick in the book, including a variety of add-ons and upgrades to encourage buyers to finally say yes.

Ask About Storage

A big problem for boat owners buying in the off season is that they’d have to look and pay for storage for their boat. This could easily cost $600 or more to have it kept cozy until spring, which is also why a lot of prospective buyers tend to shy away. One way to get the fee out of the way would be to simply ask. Sometimes, dealers will cover the cost of storage for you, just to get you to seal the deal.

Choose an Old Model

Usually at the end of a season, dealerships will try to make room in their inventory for newer boat models. So they’ll do whatever they can to clear out old stock and get rid of aging boats. Of course, old isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since these boats are still in mint condition. It’s just that they’ve got a descendant on the way. Buyers who show interest in an older model will typically get lots of attention (and good deals) from dealers because they want to do what they can to clear out their inventory.

When is the Best Time to Sell a Pontoon Boat?

Interestingly, some people have actually spent time trying to map out the specific date, day, and hour when boat buying is at its peak. According to statistics, buying activity soars in the summer since boaters will want to be able to use their new purchase as soon as they get a hold of it.

When it comes to the day of the week, it seems that buyers tend to look for a potential boat to buy between Monday and Sunday. While there’s no specific explanation for it, some people assume that it’s because buyers tend to pine for recreation as they start a new week of work. So it helps to refresh your listings at the start of each new week.

Finally, experts have found that people tend to increase their inquiry activity at around 8PM, which makes sense since this is the time when people wind down after a long day of work. In that case, you might want to make yourself available at these times in order to respond promptly to inquiries.

Wanna Buy a Boat?

When is the best time to buy a pontoon boat? Well, that depends on a load of factors. If you want to save up on your brand new watercraft, try visiting that next boat show in your area. If you’re looking to get secondhand, there are great deals to be found all year round. Just remember to set your budget, understand what you need, and plan for the long haul.