Boat owners and sellers inevitably find themselves asking questions such as: How much is my boat worth? What boat prices are owners asking for similar boats? What price is too high and what price is just right for selling my boat quickly while still getting a fair price? If you’re wading into the used-boat market for the first time, especially as a seller, answers to those questions can be hard to come by. Many sellers will look to traditional sources like NADA Guides for answers about their boat’s value and relevant price quotes. However, America’s largest boat marketplace provides a convenient Boat Price Checker Tool that can actually provide a more accurate value and suggested price range for your boat, based on real-time data. That said, let’s take a look at NADA Guides.
History Of NADA Guides
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has been around for over 100 years, and regularly publishes helpful economic reports and analysis including snapshots of vehicle sales and other industry data. The organization’s NADA Guides are a set of regularly updated, “blue-book style” online vehicle-listing reports that included pricing information on boats and personal watercraft as well as other types of vehicles. NADA also provides data to banks, finance companies, insurance companies, and government agencies.
Above: Nada Guide To Boat Values. Photo by Lisa Fotios licensed and modified from Pexels.
Based in Tysons Corner, Virginia, NADA was originally established in Chicago in 1917 by a group of roughly 30 auto dealers. The organization held its first convention in Chicago in 1918, and hosts an annual convention for going on 40 years. In 1922 the organization began researching used car values in addition to new cars. The well-known Used Car Guide published by NADA was sold to J.D. Power And Associates in 2015.
Using NADA Guides Data Effectively
NADA Guides obtains monthly sales figures from auction sales reports, private party sales reports, such as Sold Boats available through Boat Wizard from Boats Group as well as data about sales transactions from professional certified boat dealers on platforms like Boat Trader and listings on YachtWorld (the world’s largest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) platform for yachts, boasting over 70,000 vessels available for co-brokerage at any one time). Kelley Blue Book Value can provide another source for limited pricing information for personal watercrafts, aka PWCs (i.e. Jet Skis and Sea Doos) although they do not provide pricing for boats.
Therefore consulting the above platforms directly – especially using their local search results and advanced filters – is another great source of pricing information that may be more current. There are a slew of other factors that go into determining the value of a boat that should be considered. For example, what are the outboard engines alone worth? How does a boat model with a smaller, newer engine compare with one that has a bigger but older engine? How does the boat seller’s location affect their asking price and what are local boat prices for comparable models? As you can see, there are a lot of variables involved in determining a fair price that seller’s need to consider.
Alternatives To NADA: Boat Price Checker Tool
Keep in mind that NADA prices ranges don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Boat sellers should cross reference any data from NADA guides with relevant real-time numbers from boats for sale on Boat Trader, YachtWorld and boats.com for a more thorough, complete view of pricing for their vessel. The pricing and information that you collect will help give you a solid grip on current market realities for your specific boat model. Again, the Boat Price Checker Tool on Boat Trader is perhaps the most comprehensive and up-to-date source for boat pricing information available to the general market. In the end, consulting multiple sources can give you best idea of what price to ask for your boat.
Trade-In Values And Upgrade Options
Based on what you learn in your pricing research, you may even opt to visit a boat dealership and trade-in a boat and upgrade instead, rather than selling it to a private buyer. In fact with recently rising boat prices many boat owners are selling their boats for more – often even equal to or greater than what they paid for them. This means they can actually get what turns out to be essentially a free boat upgrade!
Either way, the boat valuing and pricing research process is a great way to get to know more about boats in general. With all your pricing information in hand, it’s time to go read How to Sell Your Used Boat, which includes details on digital photos, ad copy and how to prepare your boat for sale. Based on the price you think you can get, you can choose a package that best fits your needs. There are a variety of different selling packages available from Boat Trader to help sell your boat to the right buyer in the best way possible.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in September 2011, was re-written in April 2020 and was last updated in November 2022.