So you are contemplating buying a boat. You think you have a budget in mind, and now you are out attending all the Fall Boat shows. That used boat looks so good and its much less than that brand new one.
Well new or not, a survey is a good idea.
Too many complaints to Consumer Protection start with "The seller said that everything worked fine, but when I launched the boat, I found all kinds of problems!" Unless you're looking at a simple, inexpensive boat, hire your own expert to inspect it.
A condition-and-valuation survey is a snapshot of the condition and value of a boat; think of it as an independent document that speaks for the boat. Marine surveyors will check the condition of AC and DC electrical systems, plumbing and thru-hull fittings, deck hardware, propane and fuel systems, steering and controls, and safety equipment. A proper marine survey will be an in-depth written report that evaluates the boat according to U.S. Coast Guard regulations and to American Boat & Yacht Council and National Fire Protection Association standards. A knowledgeable surveyor will also know if a specific make has a history of major problems. A survey is a useful tool for buyers to negotiate a price based on what repairs or upgrades the boat needs.
Surveys are sometimes required for insurance and financing, but most buyers should get one even if it's not required — it can easily pay for itself by uncovering potentially expensive repairs, and it gives you a firm value from which to negotiate.