Determining a fair price to pay for a new boat can be a bit of a challenge because, unlike with automobiles, dealer invoice information is often not available. Plus, you might not be able to find the same model nearby from other dealers to compare prices. In this article, I provide some guidelines to help you asses how much off the MSRP for a new boat you might be able to achieve to help you negotiate your next boat purchase.
Types of New Boat Pricing
When shopping for a new boat online, you will likely see one of two types of prices from manufacturers and dealers: the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) or a Nationally Advertised Price (NAP). Knowing which type of price is shown is critical to determining what sort of discount, if any, you could expect to receive.
This is the most common type of price listed. Manufacturers typically set this price well above the realistic selling price to give all dealers the ability to make a reasonable markup regardless of their location and cost structure. However, the dealer ultimately determines the final selling price which is often below the MSRP.
The ability to negotiate a discount below the MSRP depends on several factors, including:
The dealer cost for a boat varies by manufacturer but is generally 70% to 72% of the MSRP. Of course, dealers need to price their boats well above this in order to cover their fixed and variable expenses. The dealer margin (not to be confused with the markup) on a new boat typically ranges between 10% and 20% of the selling price. After a bit of algebra, this comes out to 78% to 88% of the MSRP which you can easily calculate using our “New Boat Price Estimator Tool”. This is a good place to start when negotiating with a dealer. However, the factors listed above will impact whether you are able to negotiate a price closer to the upper or lower end of this price range (although in some cases, you might pay more or less than this).
Nationally Advertised Price (NAP)
Though less common than MSRP, NAP has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a more realistic price (typically between 80% and 90% of the MSRP) that is used to promote value, encourage consistency across dealers, and enhance the boat shopping experience by reducing the need to “haggle”. In some cases, you might still be able to negotiate a discount (or throw-ins) but the level of discount would be far less than if working from an MSRP.
Several manufacturers currently offer NAP pricing under a variety of names, including “No Haggle, No Hassle” (Tracker, Sun Tracker, Nitro, Tahoe, Mako, Regency), ‘Reel Deal Pricing” (Robalo), “Chaparral ONE” (Chaparral) or simply “Nationally Advertised Price” (Skeeter, Sun Chaser, and many more).
However, not all NAP prices are alike. White River Marine Group (makers of Tracker, Sun Tracker, Nitro, etc.) was an earlier pioneer in NAP pricing and strictly enforce its adherence. Their advertised prices are all inclusive (other than taxes and registration/titling) and are the same regardless of whether you purchase from a local dealer or a Bass Pro Shops store. The only thing that might vary is dealer freight (depending on location). As such, there is no price negotiation when buying one of their boat brands.
This is not exactly the case with the NAP prices from many other manufacturers. Things like dealer prep (as well as freight) are often additional and may vary from dealer to dealer. Plus, there might still be some room to negotiate – depending on the brand and dealer. So, if you are shopping for a boat with NAP, just be aware that the price you see will be at, or close to, what you can realistically expect to pay in most cases.
Buying a new boat can be an intimidating process because of the need to negotiate with a dealer who knows his costs far better than you and is much more experienced with the process. But, by knowing the type of pricing you are dealing with (MSRP or NAP) and types of discounts you could expect with each should help you better plan and negotiate your next boat purchase.