While first time pontoon boat owners that are looking to buy a brand-new boat may start their search with boat shows and dealers, the majority of buyers are interested in used boats. In the old days you might spend months driving from boatyard to boatyard, but, as with most shopping now, the internet makes it easy to find virtually all boats for sale in your area. Here’s how to get started shopping for a used boat online.
First, do you know exactly what kind of pontoon you’re looking for—pontoon or tritoon? Inboard or outboard? Do you plan to fish or tube? Even if you think you know what you want, it’s a good idea to research your options fully rather than risk ending up with a boat that doesn’t meet your needs. Make sure you understand what options you have for the size and type of boat you’re looking for, in addition to knowing what to expect when it comes to financial considerations and the process of making an offer, getting a sea trial, and other vital steps in the boat-buying process.
A pontoon boat, like any other boat, is going to greatly vary in pricing. It is really going to come down to the size of the boat, the engine type, the manufacturer, the features, condition and where it’s purchased.
How much does a pontoon boat cost?
A pontoon boat can be anywhere from $11,000 to as much as $150,000; however, most purchases are going to be within the $15,000 to $32,000 price range. Refer to our table below to see what many popular brands could cost you brand new.
According to internal research we’ve conducted, a brand new pontoon boat can cost anywhere from $18,000 to $60,000, depending on the engine, build quality, features and the size. The most popular pontoon boat, one that measures 22 feet with a 90 horsepower engine, retails for about $35,000. Inside this guide, we’ve also gathered some quotes for a few models. A 22-foot Bentley, for example, retailed for $30,000, while an 18-foot fishing pontoon with a 60 horsepower engine retails for $20,000.
Manitou Pontoon Boats stated that a small, no-frills pontoon boat could cost as little as $11,500, whereas a higher-end pontoon boat with all the bells and whistles could cost at least $35,000.
|Bennington||$35,000 (22 feet)|
|Crestliner||$28,000 (24 feet)|
|Cypress Cay||$29,000 (23 feet)|
|Hurricane||$37,000 (19 feet)|
|Lowe||$28,000 (21 feet)|
|Lund||$25,000 (24 feet)|
|Princecraft||$48,000 (25 feet)|
|Regency||$59,000 (22 feet)|
|South Bay||$35,000 (22 feet)|
|Sun Tracker||$21,500 (18 feet)|
|Sweetwater||$18,000 (22 feet)|
|Sylvan||$27,000 (22 feet)|
Pontoon boat overview
A pontoon boat can range anywhere from 16 feet to as large as 30 feet, and this is going to be the size of the deck. A 16-foot boat, for instance, can hold up to six people, while a boat as large as 30 feet can hold upwards of 15 people. The number of seats available will be determined by the size of the boat and the number of people it can hold.
Engines will range anywhere from 25 to as much as 130 horsepower. The horsepower of the engine will depend on what you want to do with the boat. For general cruising, experts recommend an engine less than 70 horsepower, but for skiing and tubing, the engine should be higher than 50 horsepower. for smaller boats and more than 70-100 horsepower for boats larger than 20 feet.
Common boat decks are usually made of a pressure treated marine grade plywood, but other options may include aluminum flooring, which can last forever, or a marine-grade carpeting.
Furniture will be made from a high-grade vinyl or durable plastic with marine-grade threading. This furniture will be weather resistant and can last a very long time if properly maintained.
What are the extra costs?
A trailer will be considered an additional expense if you need to transport your pontoon boat. Depending on the size of the boat, the costs of a trailer can start at $1,500 and go up from there.
Like a car, a pontoon can come with many different accessories. These can include ladders, tables, canopy tops, BBQ grills, satellite radio and more.
For those who want to store or cover their boat while not in use, a cover is highly recommended. A boat cover can cost $250 or more.
A trolling motor, aside from the standard motor, can cost upwards of $2,000.
Cleaning supplies, such as pontoon cleaner, aluminum polish and clear coats, will be needed annually. Factor in a few hundred for supplies.
When purchasing a pontoon boat new, you may have to pay taxes, title and registration fees. To be safe, plan on adding eight percent to the new price.
Boats that are going to be used for fishing will need additional accessories such as a live well, adjustable seats and fishing pole holders. A fishing live well, for instance, can cost $200 to $1,000, depending on the model.
Ski tow bars can cost $200 to $600, while a ski ladder can cost up to $500.
Tips to know:
A 16 to 25-foot boat will be designed for smaller lakes. While a boat larger than 23 feet can tolerate rougher waters, it is best to consider something larger if you plan on taking it out on larger bodies of water.
Restoring a pontoon boat is a great option for those who would like to save money and are capable of this project. All you need to start is an old skeleton of a pontoon boat, which can often be found for free. Restoring the boat yourself means that you can customize it any way you want.
How can I save money?
If you do not have the money to purchase a boat up front, you may still be able to buy one. Many boat sellers offer financing that generally only require you to put 10% to 20% down. With a financing plan, many pontoon boat owners pay $200 to $300 per month over a few years. While this will save you money up front, you will end up paying more for the boat because of the interest.
Consider purchasing a pontoon boat used. Like a new car, the minute you drive a new pontoon boat off the lot, it’s instantly losing value. A sweet spot, if you were to purchase used, would be for a boat that’s one to three years old. By this time, the depreciation value slows down when compared to a brand new boat.
One of the best places to start is Used Pontoon Boats For Sale on Facebook. This site typically lists over 20,000 boats a year, with tons of information and photos about each. With such a huge volume of listings, this site is a valuable resource whether you know the exact make and model you want or are still browsing. You can search listings by one or more of these criteria:
- Boat type
- Manufacturer and model
- New or used
- Location (country, region, or state)
Use this site to help you learn more about specific models and differences in options and equipment. Don’t search first only in your area: get to know the typical prices, features, etc. of all boats like the one you’re interested in. Even if you think you’re sure what you want, take a look at similar boats; many buyers end up preferring a different boat from where they begin their search.
Another good option is our website at www.ubpfs.com, which also lists a huge number of boats and allows searches by multiple criteria. Our website also includes some fixer-uppers from liquidators.
Important note: Both our website at www.upbfs.com and Facebook Group include boats listed by brokers and dealers—not individuals. That means these boats tend to be larger and more expensive—not the place to search for a Sunfish, for example. Even if you find the exact one you want here, you should continue your online search at sites where individuals list their boats for sale.
Buying Direct from Owners
If you really want a specific model boat and haven’t located one in appropriate condition, you can search for an owners association, other online listing sites, or forums. Check Facebook Groups, where boat owner email lists are located. Join the group and post your query about the boat you’re looking for. Owners of many particular models are often aware of others with the same who are looking to sell.
Remember that the huge variability in condition and equipment affects pricing (as well as a broker’s commission). Another tool is the NADA Guide for used boats, which again, can offer only average resale prices.
Closing the Deal
Unless you’re buying just a small pontoon and/or you really know boats inside and out, go on a sea trial before you close the deal. One overlooked flaw in a used boat can make a purchase a costly—or even a life-threatening—mistake.