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post #10 of Old 01-06-2010
Maine Sail
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Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
I believe that anyone considering the purchase of a used boat should have as much information about the purchase as possible. It is another data point that should help any prospective buyer make an informed decision. Knowing the market for a particular year make and model can be as important as knowing what brand of engine, or the moisture reading of the hull and deck.

I have to respectfully disagree with Main Sail on his characterization on NADA as "Their values have been about as accurate as a drunk shooting darts from 40 yards." Unless he knows better drunk dart players than I do... NADA, IMHO, is consistently at the low end of the spectrum.

I also, respectfully, disagree about being the ONLY close to accurate resource. BUCvalue (Boat Values, Prices, Evaluations, Used Boat Price Guides - BUCValu) is another resource, which I believe is slightly more accurate, and it allows 3 price views in a 3 month time window. I have also looked at SOLD prices in eBay as a data point.

Using your example here is a comparison of the values from the three main sources (BUCvalu, NADAguides, and for a '75 Columbia 26.

BUCvalu; $5450-$6250

NADAguides $5650-$6400 - Note that this is a little HIGHER than BUC

Note the range of years (1972-1978), and the range of dates of sale (1996-2010) that I used in my search... If I tighten up the dates of sale to last year only, there were 2 that sold. The one in GA, listed for $2995, which sold for $2400 after 14 months, and one in NC, listed for $10, and sold for $10 after 20 months. If you were using SoldBoats to figure the current average selling price of this boat (2410 / 2 = $1205), you would be far under what BUC and NADA provide.

I would state that there is more information available through However, the only accurate measure of the value of a specific boat to you is what you are willing to pay for it, and what the seller is willing to accept.

I've said this elsewhere in SailNet; "The value of any specific boat (or anything) is only determined after a specific seller and a specific buyer agree to a specific price at a specific time. Changing any one of these can affect the price dramatically."

I hope this helps!


I rest my case! As you can see NADA and BUC are off the mark from real selling prices and DO NOT give ACTUAL sales numbers. This is why you NEED a range and multiple sold comps, with actual selling prices, to help determine value. also links to the ACTUAL boats listed so you can compare condition and equipment but I forget how far back the data goes on the actual listings.

Lets say you stumble across a boat in need of "restoration" lbut the owner has used NADA to value it at $6400.00. Without having access to the data on, and the actual listing pages so you can compare condition, you could concievably over pay by $5200.00 without using a surveyor. This happens more than you would think. My yard gets aquite a few boats that fall into this category, that wind up being abandoned by the owner who bought it thinking they got a good deal..

If a seller were to use BUC or NADA, on a basket case like the two sales on obviously were, any seller could point to BUC or NADA and get more money out of a novice buyer than they should. This is a clear example of why a sureveyor should be involved to aid in determination of value not to mention you would need one to carry liability insurance.

Surveyors usually pay for themselves in savings. This scenarios flips flops too and sellers also get screwed by BUC and NADA, though BUC less so than NADA. My buddy Kyle is a broker and he runs numbers very often for customers. Nearly every time BUC (less so) and NADA more so, completely miss the mark.

You can't dumb down a boat sale to a small range (1975 C olumbia) as there are far to many variables. Many boats were built for many production years with little change, Soldboats shows WHY there are variables in value. You can also contact the selling broker for more information as they will sometimes remember the vessel.

In nearly 40 years of boating I have yet to see more than a couple of folks win by not using a broker or surveyor. There are bad surveyors and brokers just like bad doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers. I know some excellent ones..

A buddy of mine was looking for a center console via the net, Craigslist etc. etc.. He was ready to pay about 22k for the boat he wanted whn I intervened. I had Kyle run a query. These boats were actually selling for about 15k and nowhere near the 23.5k asking prices seen on CraigsList. He took the query to the seller, with his surveyor, and wound up buying the boat for 14k after survey. Asking price based on NADA was 23.5k which is what the seller had been asking...

As you and I both said, any boat is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. I still feel is the only somewhat accurate measure of used boat value we have as it has the data and listings to back it up and all these can be compared to the boat you are buying.

1975 SOLD Columbia's From

1000.00 - Outside BUC NADA value range
4695.00 -
Outside BUC NADA value range
- Outside BUC NADA value range
- Within BUC NADA value range
- Outside BUC NADA value range
- Outside BUC NADA value range
- Within BUC NADA value range
6500.00 - Outside BUC NADA value range

Based on real sales data of actual boats sold, where the data can be seen as can listing, both NADA and BUC are way out of the ball park. Boats in RED fall outside the "range"" given by both NADA and BUC. 75% of the time these boats sold OUTSIDE the value guidance given by BUC & NADA. They only hit 25% of the actual sales with their LOW to HIGH retail range...... Hmm...

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-06-2010 at 12:37 PM.
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