I’ve learned a few things, and had my share of victories and losses buying surfboards. Here’s a bit of insight from my experience, hopefully it helps other surfers have more successes buying and selling surfboards right off the bat. In this post, I’ll start off with tips for buying used boards.
Tips for Buying Used Surfboards
1. BUY a surfboard for NOW, not LATER.
Don’t let your surfy dreams get in the way of reality. That little used 5’10” Kelly Slater speed thruster may only be $150, but there’s a reason why. The guy selling it couldn’t ride it. You won’t be able to either, bro. Spend a little more on a used funshape, fish, or longboard, and you’ll be surfing a lot more, and getting more for your money. Then, if you want to progress to something shorter like that potato chip, you’ll probably be reselling the longboard, funshape, or fish anyway.
2. BUY a CLEAN used board.
If a used board you’re looking at is covered in nasty wax and/or stickers, that should be a big red flag. If you can’t inspect for any dings, or repairs to past dings, just walk away. Open, unrepaired, or improperly repaired dings can create more damage later since water can seep into the surfboard foam.
3. BUY a used board WITH FINS.
I hate it when a seller tries to short me at least a basic set of fins on a board, usually because they want to keep them. It’s a hassle to go hunting for fins to fit a “new” acquisition, and you better believe I will offer a lower price if a seller does this. The exception to this rule is if it is a vintage or antique collectible surfboard.
4. DON’T BUY a surfboard with more than 10% UNREPAIRED damage.
Yes, you’re going to have to guesstimate this one, but I think you catch my drift. Repairs cost not only money, but time. When you buy a new-to-you board, the last thing you want to do is wait on getting your board fixed until you can ride it.
5. DON’T BUY a surfboard with more than 20% REPAIRED damage.
Once again, this is an estimate, and the gauge I personally use. Like a car, I figure most of the value of the surfboard goes down once it leaves the surf shop. Because of this, I expect to get a good deal on a used board still in good shape overall, and that includes damage even if it’s been repaired. Repairs are still potentially weak spots in my opinion. I’ll pass on heavily repaired boards.
6. For new surfers, find a trusted local Surf Shop that sells used boards.
In coastal areas with surfers, a lot of times, local surf shops will carry a selection of used boards on consignment. Yes, the surf shop gets a commission, but they can help steer you in a good direction to make a choice that won’t waste your money in the end.
7. For experienced surfers, use Craigslist (if you live in a safe area).
Once you are familiar with what you are looking for in a surfboard, Craigslist is awesome. Generally, I find most surfboards listed under the category “Sporting Goods.” Here in Florida, I never limit my searches to coastal areas! In fact, some of the best deals I’ve gotten have been from inland areas like Orlando, or flat surf areas like Tampa. Sites likes eBay are better for Vintage and High End Collectible surfboards.
8. Consider trades.
If you have a good sized surf community, consider trading a used surfboard you already have for another surfer’s used board. Sometimes, you can agree on an even trade, or a trade plus cash. Our Surf community has a few local Internet forums, which aid in trades with people you already know and surf with regularly.
9. ALWAYS pay in cash.
If you don’t have the cash on hand, forget it. It’s impossible to negotiate with a credit card, even today. Checks are a hassle for a seller too, which will result in a halt to ANY potential reduction in price of the board for you.
10. Research what you’re looking for.
Unless you’re completely new to surfing (seek out your local surf shop for help!), you should be able to do your own research before buying a used board. Find out what a similar NEW surfboard costs, and realize that most boards seem to lose 20% of their value (on average) as they walk out the door, even brand spankin’ new. Find out what standard board repairs cost. Compare prices on Craigslist, local Surf Forums, and at your local surf shops. That way, you can make fair offers that won’t cost you too much, but won’t totally offend the seller either. That’s good, since you may see them in the lineup in the future. Yikes.
Next post….Selling a Used Surfboard…