Boat sales are up by about 12% from the previous year according to most industry reports and the general trend of moderate growth is expected to continue. A recent GE Capital survey indicated 43% of industry participants predict 5-10 percent growth in 2013, and 30 % predict growth of 10-15 percent. Part of the return of the business must be because money is freeing up some. Contrary to the forum discussion of everyone owning their boats outright and statements of “I only buy my toys with cash” The reality is most of these purchases regardless of price point are financed. In many cases the interest rates are so cheap it makes sense to borrow the money. Why would you pay cash when your cash is earning at least twice as much as you are paying to borrow it? It makes sense for the very wealthy to finance their extreme machines in many cases.

The larger loan companies and banks I spoke with recently are writing more loans. Let’s face it that is how they make money and they need to return to the core business models to stay in business, the general stabilization of the economy and clearing out of repossession and upside down inventory has now brought a little more stabilization. The ability to get loans on traditional watercraft is relatively easy now. Generally you have to have a 700-720 credit score, 20-25 percent down and be able to show you earn with real documents. So in my words, not be a phony.

Now how about a performance boat? An older boat? A 180 MPH used 40ft Catamaran? This is where the large boat loan companies tend to walk away, But wait there is more. I spoke with a few boat dealers and got the real deal from them. Randy Sweers from Fast Boats Marine Group said “Yes we have a great program; we can obtain loans on performance boats, older boats, catamarans, with great terms.” Randy said they will even do finance deals for private sales, just call him up and they will get it done. Mark Fisher of was in
agreement. He said he fully expects that by 2014 we will have returned to pre recession attitudes and loan availability and terms.

I also checked in with Casey Freeman of for a pulse check. Casey said, “We have every program and plan available, we can get financing on just about anything now. I recently sold a 42’ Fountain with 700’s a 39 Cigarette with 700’s and was also able to get financing on a $25K boat for a borrower with a score into the 500’s. We are back to what it was like in 2007”

The amount of available cash may be less, but things are turning around. Household debt is down, home prices are returning, and it just may be the right time to call a dealer and buy a boat rather than wait until you get around to it because that time might never come.

Powerboat On!