One common question often posed in Pontoon forums and Facebook groups by people new to the lifestyle, is when is the best time to buy a pontoon boat? I hear I it being asked all the time, this is my opinion on things:
There is no real right or wrong answer as it’s possible to pick up a great deal any time of year. It will also depend if you want to buy from new or on the used market. As a general rule of thumb though, the best time to buy a pontoon boat is in the Fall and Winter which is the off season.
But there are some caveats with that which I will talk in more depth about lower down this page, so keep scrolling if you a more comprehensive answer to the questions plus some additional things you will need to know.
Questions to Ask When Buying a Pontoon Boat
Before I go into more detail on the best time of year to buy your boat, I also want you to carefully consider the types of questions you should be asking the seller or dealer.
Handy Hint: I’ve put together a list of the most important to questions to ask when buying a pontoon, and you can find those in my Pontoon Boat Buyer’s Guide.
Click that link above and scroll down towards the lower part of the guide to find the questions to write down or print off.
Buying a Pontoon Boat in the Off Season
As mentioned, I believe that the Fall and Winter is the best time to buy a pontoon. This off season makes it more of a buyer’s market, as dealers need and want to get rid of stock in what can be a quieter time of year for them.
The dealers are crying out for buyers and will often give great deals during the Fall and Winter. If you think about it, they have unsold stock that they need to sell so they can make room for the boats being released new in time for the summer season.
There’s also another great reason why the Fall and Winter is the best time to buy a pontoon boat, and that’s all to do with boat shows.
That time of year is when all the major boat shows and exhibitions are held. You have dealers and manufacturers all competing like crazy against the thousands of people who turn up.
That high level of competition all under one roof, means the buyer will be able to get a great price in most cases.
Therefore, you’ve got two main times of year that are optimum periods for buying a new pontoon boat from a dealer or manufacturer, which are:
- Buy from a dealer in Fall during October, November, or December
- Buy from a boat show in Winter during January, February, or March
Handy Hint: If you have never been to a boat show before, read this guide to boat shows which contains hints and tips on how to get the most from your day.
Other Considerations for Fall & Winter
However, you should also consider a few other factors.
For example, if you did decide to buy your pontoon at the start of the off season, you’ve then got to figure out how and where you are going to store it.
You could be looking at around $600 dollars in storage fees until Spring time, so you might instead think that the best time to buy a new pontoon is actually when you are ready to use it.
In fact, one of my good pontoon buddies had this to say about the best buying time:
“I say you do buy in the Fall, perhaps around Thanksgiving. If you do decide to wait until the boat shows in late January and February, you might find that dealers will then add on their own expenses for travel, setup, and the show advertising and costs. You will also only see new year models which will be more expensive.”
He has a slightly different opinion to me on boat shows, but my experience is that any reputable dealership will throw in storage until spring and delivery if you do buy from them at a show.
Another boating friend of mine actually got two year’s worth of storage and delivery thrown into the sale price, plus 4 neoprene vests, a tube, ropes and other items. Doing so meant he was able to get $10,000 dollars off the list price.
Because the dealers need the space to show off the newly released models for the upcoming season.
You could also pitch your purchase to the dealer where you say you don’t want to pick the pontoon boat up until around May time. Most of them will then store it for you. Plus you have no reason to start the warranty if you’re not going to be using it for many months until you actually are in receipt of it.
Here some other comments I read from other pontoon boat owners who bought from new at boat show or dealerships during the Fall and Winter times.
“I’d have to agree that boat shows do offer better deals. They don’t want to haul those boats and RVs back to the shop after they get them there, but they are brand new boats for that year’s season.”
“If you go shopping at the end of the boating season and catch a year end clearance sale going on at a dealership, that’s when you save your money. This is because the dealerships don’t want to pay taxes on a boat that has sat in their inventory for a year when going into the new boat season. They want to get rid of them, so they don’t have to pay taxes on them.”
“I actually think that boat shows are for suckers who just think they are getting a great deal. Why not buy that brand new boat that is just last year’s model that you know the dealer is tired of having to store, move, and and insure. Go to a dealer instead towards the end of the off season is my recommendation for the best time.”
“We go to pontoon boat shows all the time. My experience is that they have the new boats marked down pretty good. But the best place and time for a deal is when you see last year’s clearance items. This is when you will save the most money in my opinion.”
“Boat manufacturers also throw bones to their dealers at Fall in the Order Writing meetings. I’m talking free options like under floor middle pontoon storage and other items. Some dealers would get an Evinrude 150 motor for the price of a plain 150 horsepower motor.”
“The larger pontoon builders throw incentives to dealers for participating in boat shows and reps are often authorized to throw in extra rebates to make a deal. Engine companies will also often extend the standard warranties when sold at boat shows so it’s always the best time of year to buy a pontoon.”
“I do agree with the Fall and Winter time, but I still wouldn’t stop looking all the time for a great price. Boat dealers will have slow moments during the year and will then be highly motivated to move a certain boat on.”
Why Not Just Buy When You Are Ready To?
Before I bought my Bennington back in 2016 I was probably researching for around 3 years in total. I ended up buying when I was ready to which was Summer, but that was on the used market and not from brand new.
If you buy on the used market, then you can spend all year looking around for exactly what you like, then purchase when you have the money and are ready to go.
I’ve seen some good deals recently on Craigslist, and from what I can see the best prices will still be towards end of the Summer season, as the existing owners don’t want to pay to have it pulled out and stored.
When is the Best Time to Sell a Pontoon Boat?
Conversely, if you’re looking to see your pontoon boat, then the best time to do so would be the Spring and early Summer period.
During the season months you’ve got the benefit of loads of people wanting to get out onto the water, and they will be a scramble to find a pontoon boat for sale.
You should have lots of hungry buyers ready to get their wallet out.
Handy Hint: Here is some advice I put together on how you can get the most money for your boat when selling it second hand.
Interestingly there is some really good research done by the guys on the BoatShop24.com website.
They analysed data to see what the best month of the year, and even day and time during the week was to sell. You can see that research in full on their website by clicking here.
I’ve also taken an awesome graphic they put together about the optimum time to sell a boat which you can see below.
Ultimately, it’s down to you when you buy or sell, and you will even find variances depending on your location. Some areas in the United States will have differences in pricing in different seasons.
But my own experience and that of many people in the pontoon community is that the best time to buy tends to be in the Fall and Winter times of year.
No matter when you buy, please make sure that you have done your own research and understand what the best questions are to ask. You can find those in my pontoon boat buying guide lower down that page.