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How to Buy a Boat on eBay

How to buy a boat for auction on eBay

Content courtesy of eBay
1. Learn about the boat

Read the description thoroughly.

The description is the seller’s chance to elaborate on all the details of the boat – the condition, terms of sale, any guarantee, etc. Some descriptions are better than others, and the best sellers will be very thorough. If you have a question that isn’t covered in the description, contact the seller (use the “Ask seller a question” link at the top of the listing). Don’t wait until the end of the auction. Also, be aware that many Sellers do not want to negotiate the price or reserve price (after all, that’s what the auction marketplace is for), but do want to answer any questions that you have.

Assume the boat is sold in “as is” condition.

Make an independent assessment of the condition of the boat and again, contact the seller with any questions about condition before making an offer. Be realistic in your expectations of used or older boats – expect normal “wear and tear”.

Ask questions.

If you have a question, click “Ask seller a question” link at the top of the listing and write him or her an email. This is a great way to learn more and get more comfortable with the boat and the seller. The more specific you can be in your questions, the more helpful the seller can be with his or her answers.

2. Learn about the boat seller

Know your seller and review his/her feedback rating.

Check the seller’s feedback rating for positive comments and to see if the seller has sold similar items in the past. If you cannot reach your seller, or you seller is inaccessible by email and/or phone, do not try to buy the boat until you are able to make contact and the seller addresses your questions to your satisfaction. By eBay policy, if you are unable to reach the seller during the course of the auction, you may retract your bid once it has been placed.

* An important note for the buyer about feedback:

Feedback is a critical part of buying and selling on eBay. It provides important information to buyers and sellers about the people with whom they are transacting. As such, it is one of the most powerful ways to build trust and a reputation on the site. eBay asks everyone to participate in giving feedback. However, as with any open and essentially un-policed system, there are occasionally people who take advantage of it. Sometimes, there are misunderstandings or hurt feelings, and in rare cases, buyers or sellers will hold the threat of leaving negative feedback as a way of getting more than is fair. For this reason, you should look at every seller’s complete feedback history, and not necessarily rule out someone with a few negatives. The same goes for sellers just starting out who have no or very little feedback. Everyone has to start somewhere, and every one of our best sellers (and buyers) started with 0 feedback once upon a time. Give them a chance, but again, make sure to talk to the person so that you can form your own opinion.

3. Know what you can afford, and the total costs.

Determine guidelines for what you are willing to pay.

All bids on eBay are binding so you should make sure that you know how much you can afford first. Look at final prices on other eBay Motors listings for similar boats by looking at Completed Items from search results (use Advanced Search and select “Completed items” from the “Item Status” drop-down menu; also select “Other Vehicles” from the “Search in categories” drop-down menu). If a boat is selling at a price far below fair market price, use extra caution as to the nature of the transaction.

Know your total costs and how you’ll cover them.

Make sure you consider all the potential costs such as: Title & Registration, State Taxes, and any shipping costs. Refer to your state guidelines on taxes, title and registration. If the seller isn’t local, make sure you know how you will pick up the boat or how you will arrange shipping if you are the successful buyer (typically, sellers can help arrange shipping, but buyers usually pay for it). Get quotes for shipping from DAS who ships boats, RVs, and most other vehicles. If you are depending on a loan to purchase the boat, make sure you thoroughly understand all the lender qualifications such as applicable makes/models, type of seller (e.g. does your lender loan on boats bought from other individuals?), etc.

Bidding over $15,000? Be sure to have your credit card on file first! You are required to have a credit card on file with eBay if you bid more than $15,000 on an item. You will be notified when you bid, so allow yourself some extra time if you are bidding in the last minutes of an auction. Your credit card will not be charged – but is used to confirm identity – a safety measure to help protect both buyers and sellers from potential high bidding fraud.

Apply for financing so you can make monthly payments.

Buying the boat you want is easier when you can make affordable monthly payments. Learn more about boat financing and other associated costs of boating, and get pre-approved for a boat loan BEFORE you make your first bid. Visit FirstBoat’s boat loan resource center now.

Learn more from eBay about bidding and protection services available to you.


Find a used boat now. Browse our boat auctions


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