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Heading to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Next Week?
by Chris Woodward
Ground-3
Courtesy Show Management

The fall boat-show season has kicked off and marks a milestone next week with the opening of the enormous, 53rd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (Oct. 25-29). Already, Sport Fishing editors have heard about several new-boat introductions and lots of new gear and electronics.

We’ll be reporting from the show to help you with your shopping list. But, if you’re not looking to buy a new boat or equipment, you might consider refinancing your current vessel.

Interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been in the marine-finance business, says Tom Smith, president of Sterling Associates, which will exhibit at the Lauderdale show. Those rates hover around 4.5 percent for fixed-rate loans and as low as 3.21 percent for adjustable loans.

To consider refinancing, Smith says anglers first need to know the value of their boats. In fact, used-boat prices, like housing prices, have stabilized and even show some appreciation, Smith says. Refinancing is a valid option for those who have equity. Once you determine your boat’s value, Smith has a few other suggestions:

  • Pick a professional to help you. Small lenders won't understand the transaction, and big banks might be indifferent.
  • More lenders have been entering and reentering the market, so you have more choices now.
  • When you talk with a lender, assess cost versus value. What are the costs of the loan and how long will you have it? Is it worth it?

Boat refinancing like house refinancing fits certain people in specific circumstances, but if you feel you have equity in your boat and the benefits might outweigh the costs, talk to a lender and find out for sure.

To whet your appetite, see our coverage from last year’s show here.