Houseboat Loan Questions? (Answers from 7 Different Companies)

If you don’t yet own a houseboat but you are wanting to buy one then you have probably searched for houseboat loans online or even how to get financing for a houseboat. 

Unfortunately many banks don’t publish much information about loans online so we did some of the legwork for you. We contacted 7 banks/ loan companies and asked them what was required to get a loan on a houseboat.

This article will give you that information as well as try and help you make your first houseboat purchase. Obviously the rates and other information can change at anytime in the future so this is just for general reference of what is available for houseboat loans at the time of this article’s writing.

Chase boat loans

I tried calling Chase but I couldn’t get anywhere with their automated phone system. I then tried calling their local branches and couldn’t get anyone to answer there either. Their message just redirected me to call an 800 number which put me back into their automated phone loop. 

I physically went in to my local Chase bank… and they said they don’t do auto or boat loans in the local branches anymore so I had to do it online or call them. 

Back to the phone I went and finally just started repeatedly pressing 0 over and over again until they redirected me to a real person. 

That person informed me that Chase doesn’t do boat loans! How one of the largest banks in the US doesn’t do boat loans is beyond me but obviously that means they are off our list.

Wells Fargo boat loans

  • Max term 15 years
  • No down payment required
  • No origination fees 
  • Can’t live full time
  • Interest rates of 11.35% to 18.99%

When the banker was giving me this info it seemed pretty good, until they got to the interest rate! Obviously that is a huge range but the fact that they charge almost the same rate as a credit card does is a deal killer for me! The payback on a loan over 15 years would be almost triple of your original purchase price with interest rates like that!

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Citibank boat loans

Again, this bank doesn’t do any kind of boat loans at all. They said the best option for a loan on a boat is to take out a home equity loan and purchase the boat with that.

US Bank boat loans

  • Max boat age 12 years
  • Loan terms up to 15 years
  • Interest rates between 5.74% and 6.74%
  • .50% interest rate discount if you are a bank customer
  • No down payment
  • Finance up to 110% of the nada boat value
  • No houseboat loans

I was super excited as I got this information as it seemed to be the best by far in getting a boat loan. That is until I gave them the specifics of the boat. They then informed me they don’t do loans on houseboats at all.

Obviously that is a huge bummer as the rest of their terms were decent (besides the max boat age) but not doing houseboats at all kills this one as well.

Suntrust boat loans

  • Terms up to 20 years
  • Interest rates from 4.99% to 7.99% APR
  • 25% down for houseboats
  • Fiberglass and aluminum hulls only 
  • 25 foot or more in length
  • Houseboats must be no older than 10 years
  • Recreation use only 
  • No floating homes

Obviously there are a couple of requirements for this loan that are absolutely crazy! 

  • Requiring houseboats to be no older than 10 years old to get a loan at all removes many of the possible good deals. 
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One of the best things about houseboats is taking one that is older and updating it and making it yours! Not only does this requirement prevent that but it basically requires you to spend much more on a houseboat that is new or virtually new.

  • Requiring no floating homes virtually takes away a huge chunk of the people that want to buy a houseboat. 

If I wanted a boat to take out on holiday weekends I could buy a fishing boat or speed boat. If I’m buying a houseboat I’m going to want to use it to live on at least some of the time. Of course that’s just me personally but I doubt that people who are looking to buy a houseboat are just wanting to use it a few weekends a year. 

Now, I’m not sure how long you could be on the houseboat before they would consider it a “floating home” as the person I talked with wouldn’t give me any specifics on that factor but the fact that they even have that at all is a deal killer to me.

Boat US boat loans

I contacted Boat US as they have been around for ages and do a lot with boat loans, insurance etc. 

For houseboat loans they referred me to Essex Credit for direct information about houseboat loans but Boatus did say that they require houseboats to be newer than 1999 to get a loan.

Essex Credit boat loans

  • Loan term up to 20 years
  • They finance liveaboards!
  • Down Payments vary depending on purchase price
  • Minimum credit score of 690
  • They have a loan processing fee
  • Interest rates range from 4.29% up to 7.69%
  • Houseboats can be up to 20 years old

Of all the people I have contacted, Essex is by far the best option for houseboat loans and boat loans in general. 

Their down payment requirements are:

  • 0% for $10,000 – $50,000 with a minimum FICO Score of 740
  • 10% for $10,000 – $200,000
  • 15% for $200,001 – $400,000
  • 20% for $400,001 – $750,000
  • 25% for $750,001- $1,250,000
  • 30% for $1,250,001+

They have an entire table of interest rates on their site as well. It can be sorted by whether you are buying a new, used, refinance, or liveaboard.

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Then you can see the different rates for each type and it is sorted by the loan length (term) and the amount of the purchase. The rate table can be for Essex Credit can be found here

As the only company we contacted that actually finances liveaboards Essex is one of your only options if you are looking to finance your houseboat while living on it full time.

Of course you could take out a home loan at any of the other banks but that kind of defeats the purpose of living on a houseboat full time.

Their interest rates are extremely reasonable (unlike some of the other banks we contacted) and surprisingly some of the best rates are offered to those that are living on their boats full time.

Another huge plus for Essex is that they allow older houseboat loans than any other company we contacted. Being able to purchase an older houseboat opens up your options and allows you to buy the best houseboat for you vs trying to stay inside an arbitrary date range.

Honestly, if I would have contacted Essex first I probably wouldn’t have bothered with the other “major” banks.

They were all either dead ends or had way too high of an interest rate or down payment to be anywhere close to a viable option.

I hope the work I put into contacting these companies has been a help in getting the mortgage for your next houseboat purchase and made it a little easier to get out and get boating!

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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