Foreclosed and Seized Boats

Foreclosed and seized boats offer a great opportunity for someone who wants to buy a boat well below market value.  They can range in size from trailer boats to large yachts.  This article will show you how to find and buy a foreclosed or seized boat in the United States.

David Tomen CPYB
David Tomen CPYB

Boat foreclosures are at an all time high in this country because of the current economic crisis.  There has been a surge of interest from overseas buyers especially in Eastern Europe and South America.  Some will buy blocks of boats for export to their home country which are then offered for sale at prices that can result in substantial profits.  Individual buyers have been successful as well in finding a bargain for personal use and well below what they would pay for the same boat back home.

Banks often take possession of a boat for non or late payment of a loan.  The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regularly seize boats that have been apprehended for drug running.  Other government agencies arrest boats for illegal immigrant smuggling, non payment of taxes and a variety of other reasons.

Boats that are foreclosed on by banks are typically assigned to a company for resale.  These boats are often offered for sale at a price that will recover the balance of the outstanding loan.  The asking prices are usually well below market value of the vessel.  If the boat has been on the market for an extended period and has not sold the vessel will be put up for auction.

Boats that have been seized by law enforcement are not offered for sale until court proceedings have concluded.  These vessels are then put up for auction.  That auction can be held within a day or two after release by the courts.

You can take advantage of these great opportunities if you know where to look.  There are a small number of companies that specialize in the sale of foreclosed and seized boats.  They often work for a set fee rather than commission.  But this is where it can get difficult for you.

These companies usually have a sale or brokerage company as well.  These separate companies have a distinct advantage in their close relationship with the company in charge of selling these foreclosed and seized boats.  The sales people in these companies have a long standing list of clients looking for bargains.  If you are not at the top of their list you have a distinct disadvantage.

Your best option is to find a yacht broker in the United States that you trust and who has a relationship with one or more of these companies.  The broker you choose should know what is available and when the boats will be put on the market.  This can be tricky for example with a yacht that has been seized by the DEA.  It is difficult to predict when a particular boat will be released by the courts.  Timing in these circumstances is critical if you wish to be part of the auction process which can occur unexpectedly.

Contact me if you want more information on how to take advantage of these amazing buying opportunities.  You can save a lot of money and possibly even profit from foreclosed and seized boats in the United States.

Used Boat Buying Guide Update!  I recently published the Used Boat Buying Guide whichdoes have an updated chapter on Foreclosed & Seized Boats. Check out

this page by clicking here:  Used Boat Buying Guide for more information.


David Tomen CPYB

19 thoughts on “Foreclosed and Seized Boats”

  1. Hi
    I am interested in a foreclosure on a 58-70′ sport cruiser/motor yacht. If you could help me find either a site to look at them, or a broker who would help me find one, I would be grateful. I live in PA but would fly to wherever the boat was located to look at it, if the deal was a good one. Thanks a lot

  2. Hi Joel:

    There are five Nordic Tugs in that size range within driving distance of where I am in Fort Lauderdale. There are 58 in total currently for sale in the United States in that size range.

    You can send me an email directly or call me if you need any help with any of them.

    Fair winds,
    David Tomen

  3. Hello! I am interested in really cheap, but working powerboat from 24 to 35 feet with 6 sleeping places. It can be even manufactured in 1975, but need to be cheap. In god shape with fiberglass hull and motor or motors. Is there any for sale?

  4. Hi Stanislav:

    There are a lot boats meeting your description for sale in the United States. As far as I can tell by the URL of your email address I am assuming that you are writing from somewhere in Russia. I suggest that you look for a boat closer to home meeting your criteria because the transportation costs would be considerably more that what you paid for the boat!

    On the other hand, if you intend to do some cruising in the United States I suggest you come on over and take a look around. I’ll leave the porch light on for ‘ya!

    Fair winds,

  5. Hello! Yes I am from Russia. And here in Russia there are not so much boats for sale and all they are really expensive. i know shipping companys ship for around 2000$ to Russia, and I am ready to pay for shipping and for customs. Do you know sources of boats for cheap except of Ebay? I am inetersted in building relationship, probably even business relationship. I am interested in boats for really cheap prices. Your post is about siezed and foreclosed boats, so I think youi are a person that knows the theme of cheap boats. Can you give me some examples of boats 1970-2009, 24-50 feet, with fiberglass hull, working motors and in normal shape? At first I am interested in boats costing less than 1000$ or around 1000$. Can you find such boats? Can you give me list of 5-30 boats that are for sale with this specs? I dont need adresses or telephones just specs and prices. I need know them, because I need to cvalculate and see if its profitable to bring it here or not. Probably if it is we could build business relationship (boat trading). Please write here in this post or contact me by email. I will be waiting for your reply. Thanks.

  6. There are currently 47,318 boats listed for sale in the United States alone using your search criteria. There are bargains available within that fleet although $1,000 will not buy you much more than a few fenders, some dock lines and life jackets. Furthermore, the share of the commission for the selling broker on a $1,000 is around $40. That will buy a fairly decent lunch for two people at an average restaurant in the USA. It is highly unlikely that you will find anyone who would want to assist you in this adventure.

    I would also be very interested in getting the contact information for a shipping company who would or could ship a boat of any description across the Atlantic for $2,000. I recently sold and shipped three 35-foot center consoles to a client in Abu Dhabi and the shipping bill for that sale was around $55,000.

    There are boats that are available due to bank foreclosure that can be had for a relative bargain. But the key word here is relative. The bank is looking to recover the outstanding loan amount. For example, a 38 Rampage Express 2007 theoretically could be auctioned off to cover a $250,000 loan. The market value of that vessel is around $400,000. Replacement value for a new boat is over $600,000. All this means is that $250K is indeed a bargain. Demand is high enough that these boat are being auctioned off for at least the minimum bid. In this weak market those bank auctions are not much less than an equivalent boat that is on the used boat or brokerage market.

    We are seeing a lot of activity with offshore buyers acquiring several boats at once and shipping them home for re-sale. The profit on these transactions are attractive enough that we are getting speculators from all over the world buying boats in the USA and particularly in South Florida. But I haven’t seen any going for $1,000.

    Best regards,

  7. Hi

    Looking for a 2000 or newer 34 – 37 Center Cockpit Sail boat. Must have A/C, Roller Furling (Main & Jib) be in good to excellent condition.

    Houston, TX

  8. David-
    I’m looking at buying a 24 foot cruiser at auction in Southern Florida- National Liquidators and shipping it up to Connecticut. Any thoughts on getting it inpsected / surveyed and then shipping it up? Should i do a full-blown survey and will they allow me to bring in my own surveyor or do I have to use their “Buyer Services” . Also- any ideas on shipping up north?
    Price is approx. $25k for the boat.

  9. James:

    National Liquidators will allow you to bring in your own surveyor. Take a look at my article here on how to find a surveyor: Many buyers often do their own inspection on small boats. You can to if you do your homework before hand. “Buyer Services” provided by the folk that are selling you the boat seems like a conflict of interest to me.

    There are a number of boat haulers in Florida who regularly transport boats by truck all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Make sure that you ask for and verify with your own eyes that the hauler you select has the proper permits and insurance to transport your boat. Accidents can happen and if your boat is not properly insured and the hauler does not have the proper permits in place you could lose your investment.


  10. Hi David,
    Thanks for your informative article. I am coming to Florida in the next 2 weeks. I would like to purchase a used boat. I am interested in aboat that is between 28 to 31 feet with at least a 9 feet beam. It should have at least 2 outboards which are preferably 2 stroke, although If the price is right I would not turn down inboards. Ideally I am looking for a walkaround with a cabin. It should either be a Pursuit, Wellcraft(Scareb) or a Maco. I live in the Caribbean and the best hull is an extrtemely deep V. I am not into fishing but the boat should be in good condition. I aim to spend under 35000 US. To ship to St. Lucia is about $4000 to $5000 US. Also I have been looking at National Liquidators. Are they known to accept offers below the minimum bid. Thanks for your response

  11. Your best bet is to do a search on for the type of boat you are looking for in the location that you will be shopping. After doing your research narrow down your target to five or six boats. You can either contact each listing broker separately or send me an email and I can inspect the boats for you before you arrive.

    National Liquidators may entertain offers below their suggested bid but it is doubtful. The word last week from the banks is that they are seeking fair market value for the boats that they have in foreclosure. The banks are not simply trying to recoup the outstanding loan on a particular boat. The profit that they can gain on a foreclosed boat over and above what is owed goes toward the losses that they experience when having to get rid of a boat that they have to sell at a price below what is owed.

    Many of the banks are now offering their foreclosed boat inventory to regular yacht brokers that they have a relationship with and not the liquidation houses. The logic behind that move I imagine is that they can get a fair price on the open brokerage market. Most assume that a boat in foreclosure will be sold for pennies on the dollar. This is not the case and must be understood by the bargain hunter.

    The foreclosed boat market is a tiny fraction of what is happening in the real estate market. Bank-owned boats are usually safely stored and maintained and can sit there for little cost until a buyer shows up with a reasonable offer.

  12. My husband is currently in Fort Lauderdale and is looking for marinas or companies that have boats for sale (foreclosure). Do you know of any big yards/marinas etc that someone can go and look at the boats for sale. We have seen pictures (on the internet) of some big marinas in Fort Lauderdale but he cant seem to find them. I believe there is a big foreclosure somewhere near the beack but don’t knowits name or address. Any information would be great.

  13. My husband is currently in Fort Lauderdale and is looking for marinas or companies that have boats for sale (foreclosure). Do you know of any big yards/marinas etc that someone can go and look at the boats for sale. We have seen pictures (on the internet) of some big marinas in Fort Lauderdale but he cant seem to find them. I believe there is a big foreclosure somewhere near the beack but don’t knowits name or address. Any information would be great.

  14. We are in Fort Lauderdale looking for marinas or yards that deal with Foreclosure for boats (both power and sail). Do you know of any around that area or even in Florida. We have seen photos of large marinas for foreclosure but we cannot find them.

  15. Hi, I am looking for a 35′ or smaller motor boat with bood quality . aluminum chambered boat is even better but has to be inexpensive . I am in southern California and willing to pay fees for your service , please help .


  16. If You could help me find a 20-24 foot wakeboarding boat with a trailer that would be amazing my price range is 15,000 – 24,000

  17. hello ,i am looking for a good ,solid ,seaworthy ,running boat .40 to 100 ft in lenght to cross the gulf , florida to belize honduras to haul stuff for church and mission work … sail or motor .let me know
    jeff clark …………..352-348-2271

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