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Best Time to Buy a Boat or RV? When Boating and Camping Season End

Sonya Stinson

November 2017

If your friends’ tales of summers on the lake water skiing and catching tons of bass have you itching to buy that boat you’ve always wanted, get ready to go shopping. The best time to buy a boat is when the season for sailing has just ended since that’s when dealers offer the most attractive bargains.

There are more than 12 million recreational boats in the United States, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Marine Insight reports that there are three main types of boats: man-powered, sailboats and motorboats. Kayaks, rowboats and gondolas fit into the category of man-powered boats or boats that require paddles, poles or hands in order to function. Sailboats work with the wind and are able to move with the use sails or extended fabrics. While some examples of motorboats - which are engine-powered - are personal watercrafts (pwc), cruisers and yachts.

The same goes for another favorite form of transportation for spring and summer vacationers - recreational vehicles (RVs). If you’re thinking about taking a road trip or going camping with the kids next year, start planning your RV purchase in the fall.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), nearly 9 million households own RVs. There are two general categories of recreational vehicles - motorized and towable. Motorized RVs, also known as motor homes, house the motor vehicle chassis and living quarters in a single unit. The three classes of motor homes - A, B and C - vary widely by size, amenities and price range. The same is true of towable RVs, also called trailers or campers, which are hitched to the back of another vehicle for transporting. You’ll find all kinds of RVs for sale - from a high-end motor home similar to a luxury condo on wheels to a folding pop-up camper you can tuck into the woods - both new and used.

If you have a long-held dream of becoming a boat or RV owner, here’s why fall is the best time to head to a dealership.

High Inventory, Low Demand

When peak summer season for boating has ended, dealers usually have a lot of inventory to unload before new models arrive. At the same time, cooler weather means fewer customers. Sellers respond by offering their biggest discounts in the fall, according to Current Watersports’ 2017 Smart Boat Buyer Guide. It’s possible for boat buyers to get fall rebates as high as $10,000!

You’re also likely to pay less for an RV if you wait until camping season is over and dealers have plenty of current-year models left on their lots. Best Travel Trailers recommends October and November as the ideal times to buy an RV.

Financing can also help make the purchase of a boat or RV more affordable. But while commercial dealers routinely offer to finance, that option may not be available if you buy from a private seller. A specialized bank loan for boats and RVs might be just the right solution, allowing you to take advantage of a bargain price on a pre-owned vessel and stretch your payments out over time.

More Time to Add Style

If your dream boat has customized colors, pinstriped seats and other personalized details, you’ll need to place your order in the off-season. Otherwise, your vessel may not be delivered in time for your springtime sailing or fishing expedition. If you have your sights on a customized RV, that delivery will also take extra time.

Of course, the best time to buy a boat or RV is not just when the price is right, but when you’ve done your homework to make sure you’re ready to make the purchase. Before you start shopping, determine the price range you can afford, remembering to take expenses like gasoline and maintenance fees into account. If you need financing, make sure you understand all the intricacies of the process, and check for special promotional rates that can save you bundles.

Then grab your wish list - as well as a sweater - and get ready for the best summer yet.

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