It’s been a long, cold winter (as Phil the groundhog predicted) and spring is finally breaking through. If you’re thinking of gearing up for warmer weather with a new or used boat, RV or other outdoor “toys,” follow these steps to ensure the right fit and get the best deal possible.
Step 1: Decide what size and type of boat, RV, or powersports vehicle is right for you.
For a boat purchase, ask yourself:
- How many people will typically be using the boat?
- Do I have a car or truck large enough to tow this boat?
- What kind of boating activities am I interested in? Fishing? Waterskiing? Sailing? Family cruising?
- Where am I going to keep the boat?
- How much boat can I reasonably afford?
- Have I planned for the additional costs of launching, docking, winterization, and off-season storage?
- Will the boat be titled with the State or documented with the Coast Guard?
For an RV purchase, ask:
- How many people will typically be sleeping in the RV?
- Am I comfortable towing my RV and do I have a vehicle suitable to tow it, or would I rather drive a motorhome?
- Will I mostly use my RV for weekends and vacations, or will I be living in it for long periods?
- Where do I plan to take the RV, and will I be using it in all weather?
- How much RV can I reasonably afford, and how does this affect my vacation budget?
For a powersports purchase (ATV, jet-ski, motorcycle), ask:
- Where will I be using it? Will I need to tow it there?
- Have I planned for the cost of a trailer to tow it?
- Do I have a vehicle suitable for towing it?
- What activities will I be using it for? (For instance, ATVs can be used for both work and recreation.)
- Where will I store it?
- For motorcycles: What size and type of motorcycle is best for my needs and activities? Cruiser? Sport bike? Dirt bike? Trike?
Step 2: Get preapproved.
When you’re with your loan specialist discussing how much you can afford, begin the preapproval process. This will require some documentation and a credit check. Once you are approved, you’ll already have part of the loan process completed, and it’s good for 45 days. A preapproval will give you and the seller confidence that you can afford the boat or RV you’re shopping for.
Step 3: Shop around for the best deal.
Seek out a reputable dealer and ask lots of questions. If you’re shopping for a new boat, attend a boat show; Michigan has several in spring and summer. These shows often offer good deals, and they’re a fun way to compare different models and styles. For larger boat purchases, consider using a boat broker. A boat broker is like a real estate agent, finding you boats instead of houses.
RV shoppers can check out RV prices and features at dealerships and RV shows, as well as online, in Facebook groups and other RV forums. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple options, try renting the type of RV you’re interested in for a weekend. This lets you see which features you like and don’t like. A used RV may have features or layouts you prefer to those of new models, so investigate both options before you make your decision.
Shopping around includes shopping for the best loan rate, too. Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union offers great rates—as low as 7.79% APR.* for boat and RV loans, and as low as 7.39% APR* for powersports loans.
Step 4: Get a survey or inspection.
Once you’ve chosen a boat or RV you’re interested in buying, get it surveyed or inspected. A Society of Accredited Marine Surveyor (SAMS) can assess your boat. A survey will cost between $20 and $25 per foot of boat, approximately, but it’s worth the cost to make sure the boat is in good condition before you buy it. Some lenders may even require it for your loan.
If you’re buying a used RV, even from a dealership, you’ll want to get a thorough inspection before you buy it. You can find an RV inspector through the National RV Inspectors Association.
Step 5: Apply for your loan and close the deal.
If you’ve already been preapproved for the loan, this step shouldn’t take too long. Timing is similar to a car loan: it can be a day, or even same day. If your purchase is a high value, say greater than $100,000, think of timing more like a home purchase; the documentation process could take up to eight business days to close, or more if issues are uncovered during the inspection. Similar to a car purchase, you’ll have some additional expenses at this point: insurance, registration, title, dealer fees, etc.
MSGCU does not charge any application or closing fees, but some lenders do, so be aware of these costs before you apply. And some lenders may require a down payment for a recreational purchase such as a boat, RV, or powersports.
Learn more about how MSGCU can champion your springtime adventures on the lake or in the wilderness. Apply online or call (866) 674-2848 to learn more. You can also make an appointment or stop by any of our 20 branch office locations.
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