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Old 01-22-2021, 05:38 PM   #1
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Best geographic USA area to purchase used trawler?

Hey Trawler fans,

I'm wondering if anyone knows or has an opinion on where in the country might be a good start to look for my first trawler. I currently live in Denver, CO so would like to have an idea of where to start my search.

Does it make sense that places particularly hard-hit financially (Great Lakes area, Gulf Coast areas) would likely have better deals/more motivated sellers than high cost-of-living areas such as southern Florida or most of the west coast (especially Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego)?

I'm a first time used trawler buyer who wants to live aboard it. I just don't want to start my search in the most expensive place in the country. I'd appreciate any geographical guidance. Thanks so much.
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Old 01-22-2021, 06:08 PM   #2
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Boat prices seem to be fairly high everywhere right now. You will have to look where you find the boat that fits your needs. When I am looking for a boat I look all of the east coast and great lakes. Trying to find just what you want/need in a certain area probably will not work. But good luck in your search.
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Old 01-22-2021, 06:17 PM   #3
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ALWAYS buy near where you will be doing your boating. However, Midwest boats generally have lighter use due to the short season.

Prices are strong everywhere right now though.

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Old 01-22-2021, 06:22 PM   #4
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I think Florida, only because its the land of many boats and dreams sometimes end here... Good deals can be found anywhere on the Loop..if you look long and hard enough. Have your cash or financing in order before you get serious. Don't look for a Fl boat if your boating are will be West coast or Alaska ,obviously.
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Old 01-22-2021, 06:32 PM   #5
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ALWAYS buy near where you will be doing your boating. However, Midwest boats generally have lighter use due to the short season.

Prices are strong everywhere right now though.

pete
This! I might modify that if the cruise between where you bought it and where you will be doing your ongoing boating is on of your cruising objectives.

Well cared for midwest boats are worth a premium due to fresh water use and a relatively short season, especially boats that are put in heated covered storage off season.
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Old 01-22-2021, 06:43 PM   #6
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Trawlers are not fungible. A boat setup for PNW will have diesel furnace, decent indoor space, maybe even a diesel stove. Boat in Florida will have AC and more or less an equal number of generator hours to engine hours. Gelcoat in Florida takes a beating. Add in that a newbie is unlikely to recognize and snatch a deal, and you're left with a frustrating experience. This doesn't even begin to account for costs to relocate a boat.

Figure out what you want to do and do as Pete M says - buy nearby.

To the OP. Why do you ask? What plan are you noodling? Cheap living space? Cruising? It makes a difference. If you think there is a market for distressed boats, there is, but they are bottom of the barrel orphan boats that need a lot of work and money. Right now, dye to pandemic, it's a sellers market. Lots of people with money didn't take a vacation this year and suddenly a boat or rv sounds like a great plan.

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Old 01-22-2021, 06:55 PM   #7
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Boat in Florida will have AC and more or less an equal number of generator hours to engine hours. Peter

I have seen Downeast boats in Key West that were originally from Massachusetts. So I understand your point but the statement is not always true. The owner brought the boat to KW because he ended up down there...
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:14 PM   #8
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Find the boat(s) that best suit your musts & wants and a quick search will quickly identify prices & locations.
No point to looking for a bargain as the wrong boat at bargain price us still a bad deal.
Most places are sellers market and that won't change for awhile IMO
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:19 PM   #9
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I have seen Downeast boats in Key West that were originally from Massachusetts. So I understand your point but the statement is not always true. The owner brought the boat to KW because he ended up down there...
So what are the chances of a newbie from Denver finding such a deal?
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:20 PM   #10
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:29 PM   #11
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Yep, all depends on what you're shopping for. I watch eBay all the time just for kicks, for bigger boats, 40+. We bought our current boat that way. Pre-COVID you'd see, 20, 30 boats in that category at any given time -- now, two or three or four. From everything I can tell the market on boats in general really is red hot all over. Florida -- huge selection, maybe biggest in the country, but the sun and salt water beats the daylights out of boats. Our boat was on Narragansett Bay, salt water but pulled out every winter and very well maintained. I agree Midwestern boats are not as sun-burnt, but then you have shipping if you're on a coast. And then you've got quirks of geography -- for example, it's such a big project to ship a big boat to say -- South Dakota -- that as long as you find a buyer, dragging a big boat here automatically raises the resale value by some fraction just because the market is so limited. Our last two big(ger) boats came from Texas and Rhode Island. I'd say start national and see what works out. Let the shopping begin!
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:34 PM   #12
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As other have said, its a sellers market, mostly due to C19 fallout.

My wife and I were considering purchasing an RV in 2020, but shelved the idea for a year or two. Very little inventory and top dollar pricing for used junk. The better rigs have over a 1 year wait for new builds. Only mentioning it as it relates to boating in regards to supply and demand.

I would think the Boat and RV market will improve for buyers at some point in Q3 or Q4, but my crystal ball has been malfunctioning lately.

Good luck with your search. This is a good place to ask questions.
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:16 PM   #13
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I would think the Boat and RV market will improve for buyers at some point in Q3 or Q4, but my crystal ball has been malfunctioning lately.

Good luck with your search. This is a good place to ask questions.
Same crystal ball that, back in March, predicted a massive crash in boat/RV/home prices due to people unable to make their slip payments? Lot of that type of chatter back then.....mine too. Boy, was I wrong.

Peter
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:22 PM   #14
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Regarding Florida boats. It is true that there are a lot of boats for sale in Florida. Could be that a lot of older boaters end up giving up the sport and move aground in Florida. Could be other reasons also.

And, not all boats for sale in Florida are Florida boats. Many come from other places and end up being sold in Florida but remember... Salt waster ages boats a lot faster than fresh water. Even just a few years in Florida water and sunshine will add many years to the boats appearance.

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Old 01-22-2021, 09:35 PM   #15
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I'd purchase a boat at or near where I planned to boat/harbor.
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Old 01-23-2021, 01:12 AM   #16
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I swore I wouldn't buy a Florida boat for several reasons. Didn't even look at them in my searches. But one snuck through and next thing I know I'm on a plane to Florida and I'm buying a boat.

Buy where you want to boat sounds great but I looked in the Great Lakes for 3 years and traveled several times without finding the right boat at the right price. Saw one real piece of garbage that the guy thought was worth gold because it was fresh water. Limit yourself to whichever side of the Rockies you're going to keep it on, and find the right one for you - wherever it is.

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Old 01-23-2021, 01:32 AM   #17
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I have seen Downeast boats in Key West that were originally from Massachusetts. So I understand your point but the statement is not always true. The owner brought the boat to KW because he ended up down there...
And then maybe the original owner found out that his boat was not really suitable for FL.
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Old 01-23-2021, 02:14 AM   #18
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Where to buy ???

This stage of looking for a boat may be more about you, how you want to use a boat, where you want to cruise, and what things are must / must not haves.
How much time can you give to boating? Time is often harder to find than money.
How often? Weekends or liveaboard?
How many people?
Can you do light maintenence? Moderate repairs? Paint, fiberglass, electrical, mechanical, etc?
Is headroom an issue? Wide / no side decks?
Walk around queen bed or are vee berths ok?
Look at lots of boats, online and in person as you define your needs. Once you know of a range of boats which could suit you, start looking for a fair deal. Unless you know why an owner is selling for a "right now" price, cheap could be very costly.
Find a good surveyor in the areas you might buy in, and an engine surveyor as well.
Make sure you can get slippage / mooring and insurance for the boat you want at a reasonable price.
Then, when you find the boat you want, and it surveys well, grab it.
Good luck with your search.
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Old 01-23-2021, 09:26 AM   #19
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Where to buy

Wow, thanks so much all of you for the wonderful insights. I, too, have been under the mistaken assumption that luxury items such as boats/rvs would really take a back seat to daily necessities when the world's financial markets take such a hit. Apparently, the exact opposite is true and people are buying boats in record numbers.

Since it sounds like we are currently in a red hot sellers market for boats, I'm guessing it's just a matter of time before some of these boat buyers realize they bit off more than they can chew and decide to put the boat on the market. Sounds like that's possibly a couple of years away and I can wait.

As for location, I grew up in San Francisco and am familiar with the West Coast. I have never been to FL or the Great Lakes or the Gulf. Many people mentioned how tough the sun and salt water are on boats in FL. Well, wouldn't it be just as tough on a boat in Southern California?

Since salt water is so tough on a boat, I am mulling over the idea of a Great Lakes boat to be lived aboard year round, but spending the warm months there and the cold months moving the boat somewhere warm but without hurricanes preferably. I just don't currently have a preference to WHERE I buy the boat and wanted to know if particular parts of the country were usually better places to buy than others.

Thanks again for all the great insights. Have a super day.
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Old 01-23-2021, 10:03 AM   #20
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Since boats are moveable, they're not like real estate in that one part of the country is cheaper than another generally. It's mostly about condition. Some areas can tend to have boats in better condition because of fresh water and shorter season, but condition is driving the price because it's a national (and international) market. Figure out what you're willing to spend, and find the best, right boat for those dollars. Depending on the size you're looking at, the only limitation may be which coast, because if it can't be trucked it's a long cruise through the Panama Canal.
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