Advice For First-time Buyers

Published in the January 2019 Issue January 2019 Multimedia

Your first houseboat is a big deal. You want to make sure your first buy goes smoothly and that you find a boat that can become a part of the family. But how do you know which one is the right fit? We asked the professionals what advice they have for first-time buyers and what they wish they would have known before purchasing their first houseboat.

Terry Miller

Houseboats Buy Terry’s, Terry Miller got into the houseboat life 24 years ago. Her first purchase was a steel hull. She, her husband and three kids fell in love instantly. She encourages new buyers to take that first step of faith and go with their instincts.

However, she also wants first-time buyers to do their homework. She encourages potential buyers to check out marinas, find a place to put your boat, and make a budget for yourself. If you know what kind of boat you’re looking for or what kind of houseboats are in your budget, you’ll be able to spend your time and money more efficiently.


Warren Childers

When Sunstar Yacht Sales & Brokerage’s Warren Childers graduated from high school he got involved with Summerset houseboats and has been in the business ever since. With his extensive knowledge of the industry and boats themselves, he believes it’s important for first-time buyers to work with a broker and to have a survey done before purchasing a houseboat. The broker will save them the trouble of running around and the survey will help them know what kind of houseboat they’re getting.

Other advice Warren has for first-time houseboat buyers is to get what you want the first time. Don’t wait to add to your new boat. Additions usually cost more after the fact than just buying what you want already included on the boat.

“If you can swing it, get it because you only live once!” encouraged Childers.


Travis Keller

Travis Keller from Your New Boat has advice for potential new buyers who are still on the fence about purchasing. He brought up that renting is a great way to gain experience and to get your feet wet in the boating lifestyle.

Renting is also helpful when going through the process of getting marina insurance. Travis brought up that sometimes it is best to decide where you want to boat or what marina you want to keep your new houseboat at before purchasing.

Other advice Travis had to offer included that it is okay to stay inside your comfort zone. It’s fine to stair step your way up to bigger and better boats. Starting small or renting are great options for cautious buyers and new owners to try things out before investing.


Ken Vance

Ken Vance from Elite Boat Sales got into the broker business nearly 13 years ago. With his love for boating and 28 years of boating experience, being a broker came as a natural career choice.

Ken advised new houseboat buyers to determine the size vessel they want, and to specifically keep in mind the number of bedrooms onboard. He also said it’s important to set a price range. But with all these choices to consider, it’s still important to remember why you’re buying a houseboat—for the fun.  

Before buying his first boat, Ken said he wished he would have known just how much fun owning a boat would be.


Wes Wise

Wes Wise, from Lake Life Boats & Middle Tennessee Houseboats and Yacht Sales,
says his first advice would be to work with and talk to a professional. He encourages that a good place to start would be to talk with friends who have owned a houseboat before. Ask what they like and what they don’t like.

He continues that it’s important to determine where you will be boating. Will it be a freshwater lake, freshwater area or a river? You need to know that in order to determine the type of vessel you wish to purchase.

Lastly, he says you need to look at your family as a whole and see how they might use the boat as well. Do you have young children, grown children, grandchildren, or extended family that you’d like to bring aboard?
Look at who will be using the boat because one of the biggest concerns is the sleeping arrangements. How many people will the boat comfortably sleep? It’s an important consideration when purchasing a houseboat because you will be sleeping on the vessel a lot and you will be enjoying the vessel too while it’s at the dock.

Wes has been a professional in his line of work for more than 10 years and has been involved with houseboats for 17 years. One thing he wishes he would have understood better back then is the resale of boats and the construction of various houseboat manufacturers. With the help of a professional, these problems can be avoided.

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