Trends in the marine credit market might not be stellar, but they are encouraging. Credit is available for boat loans, interest rates are at historic lows, loan criteria are easing a little and a few more lenders are getting into the market, financial consultant Jim Coburn says. “If a customer comes in and he’s paying his bills and has a down payment, he’s going to get a boat loan,” says Coburn, a former president of the National Marine Bankers Association who now operates Coburn & Associates LLC in Macomb Township, Mich.
Don Parkhurst, another former NMBA president, agrees. “There’s plenty of money available at historic low rates and more people are getting approved today than several years ago,” says Parkhurst, senior vice president for marine and RV finance at Sun Trust Bank. That’s good news for dealers, even if sales projections are nothing to write home about. “Overall new-boat sales will range from flat to modestly improved,” Coburn predicts.
The credit picture has modestly brightened as well. For buyers with good credit scores, fixed-rate loans have been r — “among the lowest we’ve ever seen,” Parkhurst says. These days, a good credit score is 700 and up. (A perfect score is 850.) “By today’s standards, anything below 690 is considered non-prime,” he says. “Some lenders draw the line at 700 or 720.,