Shall I Buy A New or Used Boat?

Posted by: Pen Marine


By Oh Kean Shen, MD of Pen Marine


You have now decided to buy a boat. Your next questions would probably be… which boat do I buy? Should I buy new or used?

When it comes to buying a boat, it is very important to understand the full picture. Most people will start by buying what looks appealing to him/her based on their allocated budget. However, as one delves deeper into what you should buy, there are actually more factors that you should be considering when choosing a suitable boat to purchase.

What type of boat?

Should you buy a sailing yacht or motoryacht? Sailboat buyers are usually more adventurous and are probably more willing to be physically involved in handling and managing their boat. Other boat buyers may prefer to relax and unwind on their yacht and spend time with family and friends or entertain other business partners, hence a motoryacht would be more suitable for them. They may prefer to hire a crew to assist with boat handling and therefore can be less involved in the physical aspect.

Motoryachts can be as small as 15ft to 40ft where they are fitted with outboard motors; or motoryachts above 40ft up to the superyacht and megayacht sizes (24 M and above) are usually propelled by diesel powered engines

Size of Boats

The size of boats that you wish to buy is an important factor as the bigger the boat, the more it costs to acquire. Even though you are able to buy a bigger boat, it is important to check whether you have a berth to keep the boat in the location you wish to keep it, or a home base for the boat.

Crew(s) is another consideration on the size of boat, which we can quantify them in this manner:-

  • up to 40ft – possible to be handled by an owner
  • 40ft to 70ft – it can be crewed by the owner, owner & crew combination and/or completely crewed by hired personnel.
  • above 70ft – it is advisable to hire a full time crew to take care of the boat of this size unless the owner is a very experienced boat owner who knows how to manage the boat properly, has the luxury of time and enjoys spending most of his time on his boat.

Shall I Buy the Boat NEW or USED

There are many factors in determining whether to buy a boat new or used.

The first reason to buy a used boat is that you want a bigger boat to accommodate your needs and a new built would cost more than you are willing to pay. Here we provide the pros & cons of buying new or used.

A new boat is obviously ideal as you get to choose your own options and customize the boat to your own specifications. This ranges from the obvious options such as the size of the air conditioning system, the installation of bigger generator sets and also the engines to go at higher speed with bigger horsepower options to other specially customized options which the yard can design for you. There are many new electrical and electronic options today such as:-

  • radar system
  • GPS & Chartplotter
  • AIS system which is compulsory in Singapore & Thailand today.
  • High-end Entertainment systems
  • Underwater lights
  • Zero speed stabilizer
  • and more

Also available is the customization of interiors eg choice of materials of upholstery, curtains, flooring (carpet or wooden floors), marbles and type of wood used.

New engines and equipment are continuously being launched these days and the boat yards will strive to install the latest equipment into the boats. The new models often have much more volume for a given length because the yard designs them with new understanding of the material strength which has lead to the creation of higher strength, bigger volume with lower weight ratio.

As for used boats there are a lot more consideration to be made. There is also a need for knowledge to assess the condition of the boat and thus the value one should pay for the said boat.

Some of the factors that affect the price include the size of the boats, the age, and its condition – state of repair and maintenance. Purchase price is one consideration, but the condition will determine the amount of monies that is needed to restore the boat to a pristine condition. Boats are always surrounded by sea water which is a corrosive environment.

It is here that we look at the pros and cons of buying a new or used boat.

When buying new, you have a choice on the brand you want to buy. You can semi customise to your taste the interior layout and the specifications. The delivery time may be longer than a used boat as it will be tagged to the production of the boat you have chosen.

Moreover, everything on board is new and it comes with the manufacturer’s warranty.

Buying a used boat is a slightly different proposition all together.

It is recommended that a broker is involved for the purchase of a used boat. For each of the boats you have shortlisted or are considering, the buyer has to spend more time to study each boat as the specifications, layout and conditions of the boats are varied. A broker can help you do the preliminary short listing and assist you with initial negotiation. The broker will recommend you a professional surveyor to provide a technical condition report on the boat before you finally purchase.

Buying a used boat is a more tedious and involved exercise, as it is important for the buyer to know what he is purchasing. The surveyor will assist in this aspect to assess the condition of the boat.

Other cons of a used boat are that the equipment used may have been superseded by other new models with more features. However, some buyers who like the latest electronics will still have the option to make changes and retrofit the latest equipment where possible. Some examples of new typse of equipment includes; zero speed stabilizer (eliminate boat roll up to 60%), touch screen radar, GPS chartplotter, electronic control system for the electric and electronic equipment in a boat e.g. Boening System or Naviops, LED lights and underwater lights which is commonly used by many new boats. There is a Yacht Controller that is a telephone-sized remote controller that can allow the boat handler to walk around the boat whilst docking it.

The pros of a used boat is the lower price a buyer has to pay. Some used boat buyers will also see that the present owner has done what we call the “shake down period”; which means any bugs during the initial 6 months, would have been solved or sorted out. A boat that has been well run in by the present owner, the industry often call it as a boat that is “better than new”.


Buying a new boat or a used boat is very much dependent on the budget a buyer puts into buying his next dream yacht. Upon deciding on the amount of monies you wish to spend on the yacht, you have to determine the size which will then give you a clearer picture whether you will increase your budget to buy new or look for a good used boat to fit you budget.

It is always best to use a reputable broker who will guide you the right way, as they hope to have you as a buyer for more deals in the future.

A broker who has good technical background is an advantage, as they will be able to help you find the right boat, but a buyer should not save monies to engage a surveyor to give them an unbiased technical assessment.