Chesky said most buyers make extra payments to pay the boat off faster, but they still negotiate hard to get the original selling price down. “The wife says, ‘We really don’t need this,’ and the husband says, ‘If I can get it for this price, let’s do it.’ ”
Jake Jacobson, general manager of Rapid Marine Group in Minnesota, said there’s a lot of value to be found in boats priced under $20,000. New boats are more affordable, interest rates are low and values are holding. “You can get a Lund 16-footer with side steering, a fish finder, pedestal seats, a 40-horse, four-stroke motor and trailer for under $15,000,” he said.
Even high-buck buyers spending up to $100,000 are seeing changes in their market. At Midwest MasterCraft in Crystal, Minn., owner Andy Larson said that MasterCraft just released a high-end but less expensive line.
“Most MasterCraft boats start at $80,000, but the new NXT will start in the high $50s,” he said.
A year ago Larson added the Moomba line for the value customer looking at boats costing $40,000 and up. The strategy of adding lower price points has worked. Business is up 20 percent so far this year, he said.
For most buyers, a $20,000 floating party busts their budget. According to the NMMA, most boat owners have a household annual income of less than $100,000, making a used boat a likelier option. Hellier said that he and his wife are searching for boats in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, a common price point for used powerboats.
St. Boni Motor Sports found a way to attract the buyer with $5,000 to spend. At the Minneapolis Boat Show in January, the motor sports dealer featured the Sea-Doo Spark for $4,999, a small personal watercraft that rides like an ATV but with a much quieter motor than a JetSki.