Still a Buyer’s Market
Both the buyer’s and dealer’s perspectives are familiar to Mike Klimek. Klimek has bought — and sold — two boats within the last 12 months.
The happy owner of a 1996 Sea Ray 250 Sundancer, Klimek resisted when his wife suggested they hit a 2009 boat show. But there the couple took enough of a liking to a Regal 3360 Window express Cruiser that they put in an offer — albeit a halfhearted one.
“They had this boat priced at $205,000, discounted from $229,000,” Klimek recalls. “We made a ridiculously lowball offer of $155,000 ... and they took it. We were shocked.”
Within six months, however, Klimek had another shock. He had long admired a friend’s 2005 Riviera 370 Convertible and was surprised to hear it was being offered through a broker. Soon the Klimeks’ barely used Regal was also up for sale, through the same broker who was listing the Riviera. And Klimek found himself on the receiving end of lowball offers.
“As the seller of a boat, you have to be willing to slash your price,” he says of the current market. “We lost $30,000 on a boat that we had for six months.”
In the long run, however, he doesn’t view it as a loss. Why? That same buyer/seller reality also worked in his favor. Klimek had seen similar Rivieras listed online as high as $450,000. An almost identical boat was listed within 120 miles of his St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, home for $329,000. Klimek, with help from united Yacht Services (a broker), was ultimately able to close his deal for $290,000.
“The savings on a new purchase can make up the difference of what you lose,” says Klimek. “In a different market, that boat would have easily been $75,000 to $125,000 more than I was able to get it for.”
So which buyer got the best deal ... and where? It’s a subjective question. each is satisfied with his purchase, and each for different reasons.
Anderson recognizes there may have been cheaper deals in the eBay and Craigslist world, but he wasn’t willing to take the chance on lower quality and having no recourse in the event of a problem. Kullman trusted his instincts about a quality buy and a motivated private seller and ended up getting what he considers a steal. So, ultimately, did Klimek. In fact, every buyer got the boat he wanted for far less than he expected ... and each continues to be happy with the deal.
Their collective advice: Go forth and negotiate. And as you do, keep in mind these parting words from dealer Mark Watts: “The smoking deals are still out there ... but we’re definitely in the fourth quarter of the game.”