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Determine your boat's value correctly with blue books

Commonly referred to as blue-books because the early price guides in the automobile industry had blue covers, used boat price guides have various purposes. Boat dealers use them to calculate trade-in allowances; insurance agents, to set values; and marine surveyors, for theair evaluations. Even the IRS uses these price guide books to determine if you're enjoying more money than you claim to be earning.

There are three generally accepted price guides in the United States: 

Each uses a different method of calculating values, which means that the values for the same boat in these books can vary by a sizable amount. While you probably won't want to invest in one of these blue books before you trade in your boat, determine which price guide your dealer uses, and compare the value with the other guides. You can usually find copies at marine insurance offices or banks that handle boat financing.

BOAT/US, (voice) 800-473-2869, also has a useful pricing service available to members. Called the Value Check program, it provides price guidelines for specific boat models by telephone or via the Internet. BOAT/US uses the blue books mentioned, but also relies heavily on a huge marine insurance database that helps them price boats geographically, by the time of year and by usage.

When it comes to the blue books, take the values as guidelines only, and don't base your negotiations for either trade-in or direct sale solely on blue book prices. Always get a deal that makes you happy.

Consumer Buying Guide

The 32-page Boat U.S. Guide to Buying & Selling a Boat will help the novice navigate unfamiliar waters and remind the seasoned skipper of landmarks to steer by and shoals to avoid when trading up or selling.