Is there a Kelley Blue Book for Boats?

Is there a Kelley Blue Book for Boats?


Pricing a boat can be a nebulous equation that takes into account science, art, and, of course, personal taste. The final price generally depends heavily on how much the buyer likes the boat versus how savvy the dealer is at forging a deal. It’d be great to have a starting point.

So, is there a Kelley Blue Book for boats? As a matter of fact, there is. Multiple options are available and while they vary a bit in price, they should at least give you a decent starting point.

If you want to get the best price possible, your boat will need to look its best. The Better Boat is here to help with that! Whether that’s keeping your deck looking amazing with our wood brightener, shining the hull with our marine boat polish, or keeping your chrome and metal gleaming with a quality marine metal polish.

Maintenance is extremely important when it comes to the possibility of reselling. You can’t undo decades of wear and tear overnight, so keep your boat looking great at all times.

No matter how great your boat is looking, there will be a bit of discrepancy in the price which is up to you and the buyer or seller to decipher. We will go over all of these options that you can use as a Kelley Blue Book for boats.

There are some significant pros and cons, so we’ll assist you in finding the pricing method that is the right one for you. Buying or selling/pricing a boat doesn’t need to be difficult, and we will make it as easy as possible for you. So let’s get started!

Pricing A New Boat

New boats are relatively easy to price. The boat manufacturers or dealers will set prices. Values are based simply on size, brand, equipment, and upgrades.

Condition won’t become part of the equation here as a new boat will be pristine. And if it isn’t? It’s pretty easy to walk away and find a similar model and price from another dealer.

The location of the boat can become a fairly big addition to the price that isn’t covered by any of the Kelley Blue Book for boats.

Boats are generally delivered to common shipping points, but the cost of delivery to a final location will often be added into the final price of a new boat. New boats can be a deal if a dealer is looking to liquidate some inventory. There is also the option to add or remove equipment, which is nice.

Overall I’d say that you will probably be paying more than necessary with a new boat so make sure to do your homework before you buy. The positive is that the Kelley Blue Book will have current pricing information readily available for newer boats.

Pricing A Preowned Boat

Preowned boats are much more difficult to get a decent price for. Used boats are almost never pristine, no matter how well they are maintained. 

There are three overall categories that can be used to determine a boat’s condition. From most important to least: Mechanical such as engine hours and performance, the status of the hull, health of the deck, etc. After that comes the boat’s rigging which includes the mast, boom, sails, stays, and shrouds.

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Arguably the least important category is the cosmetic side of things. Is the gelcoat intact? Is the wood or teak trim deteriorating?

You can easily patch cosmetic issues long enough for the sale to go through, and honestly, as long as the engine and rigging are in working order I don’t much mind sailing on a boat that isn’t the prettiest thing on the water. I say it just adds personality… Or maybe that’s just my way of compensating.

Regardless, many cosmetic repairs are easy fixes that you can do yourself with very little experience or investment.

The Kelley Blue Book of Boats

Here is the meat of the article that you’ve been waiting for! There are 3 widely recognized sources for boat pricing, and I’ll discuss each of them briefly.

The NADA Marine Appraisal Guide is absolutely my favorite of the bunch. It includes pricing for everything from motors to trailers and is used by banks, finance companies, insurance companies, and even government agencies. Now that is accuracy you can rely on!

The next Kelley Blue Book of boats would be the ABOS Marine Blue Book, which has ‘blue book’ right in the name. It is quite comparable to the NADA and is also used by a variety of institutions, but it’s locked behind a paywall, which is why I don’t suggest it nearly as often.

Overall, it has almost the exact same functionality, except that you need to pay for it. If you’ve got money to burn or you just really dislike browser ads, then it might be worth a subscription, but I suspect that most people will choose the free option.

Our last option for boat pricing is BoatWizard’s Sold Boat Database. I personally can’t attest to the quality of this one, as it requires an app download and my phone is already filled to bursting with apps and pictures that I can’t bring myself to delete quite yet.

From what I understand, it’s based on the actual prices that boats were sold at, which leads me to believe the variation in pricing is much greater than what you’d find in one of the aforementioned boat Blue Books because of all the variables involved.

Before you sell the house and commit to buying that boat as a floating apartment, it might be wise to check out what it is like to live on a boat.

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