Buying a hot tub on the used market requires a ton of careful consideration and research so that you don’t end up with a lemon.
Of course, if spending anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 on a brand new hot tub doesn’t sound like your kind of buying decision, then you’re in luck.
There are plenty of used hot tubs on the market waiting to be purchased. One of the best resources for finding used hot tubs is Craigslist.
You can easily pick up a tub in excellent condition for great value. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should simply purchase the first one you see. There are plenty of considerations to make if you don’t want to end up with a lemon.
Come dive in with us as we explore the prices of used hot tubs in our price guide.
Expect to See Sellers Offer 50% of the Purchase Price
While there are many factors that must go in the mix to determine the price value of a used hot tub, more often than not, you will find that sellers are looking to sell theirs for 50% of the original purchase price.
Let’s say that Jerry paid $10,000 for his new hot tub two years ago. Now, he is going to try and sell it for $5,000. For Jerry, this is an incredibly reasonable value.
Of course, you are a smart and knowledgeable consumer who knows that there are tons of factory outlets out there ready to sell hot tubs directly from the manufacturer. In many cases, you can find a brand new hot tub for $5,000 or less, which includes delivery and installation.
If you are looking for a used spa, we highly recommend looking for people who provide shipping in their purchase price. In this scenario, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of shipping a large piece of heavy plastic from one home to the next.
Used Hot Tub Price Considerations
Whether you are looking to buy a used spa or determine your hot tub’s trade-in value, there are many factors that you will need to consider.
The Price of Used Hot Tubs
First of all, you will need to consider how much your current spa model is going for on the used hot tub market.
Doing a search for used models is pretty easy. All you’ll have to do is take notes of the prices that you see listed online.
Definitely look on Craigslist to get an idea of local price averages as well.
If you’re selling your old tub, you might even consider calling your neighborhood pool store or local spa dealer to get an idea of your current hot tub’s value.
For those looking to buy a new one, the last thing you want to do is purchase a used spa online on Facebook Marketplace for $5,000, for example, only to find out that some guy across town is selling his on Craigslist for $3,000.
Get an idea of fair market hot tub prices and don’t be afraid to haggle.
Available Features and Amenities
The more features available on a hot tub, the more it will be worth. This is especially true when it comes to features that are widely desired.
While there are certain features that can catch one person’s eye and not the next, some of the features that more buyers are willing to pay an additional fee for include:
- Digital Control Systems
- Higher jet numbers
- Waterfall or water fountain features
- LED lighting
- Cushioned headrests
- Built-in Stereo System
- Bluetooth Capability
- Full foam insulation
You may even consider certain features that sit on the outside of the hot tub, including:
- Cover lifters
- Shelving or Caddy
The larger your hot tub or the hot tub you are looking at, the more money it will be worth. One of the first things to account for when determining the price of a used hot tub is the seating capacity. A hot tub that seats eight people will sell more than a hot tub that seats six people, even if they are both the same size.
If that seating is unique, the price can go up. People often love searching for hot tubs with lounge seating, for example.
You may have or be looking at a large hot tub with all of the latest and greatest features available. However, if that hot tub has some serious wear and tear, it will deeply affect the trade-in value. You must take note of some of the more common forms of wear and tear, including:
- Dirt and debris
- Dents, scratches, cracks, and pits
- Fading or discoloration
There are a couple of things that may impact the overall appearance of a hot tub as well, including the:
- Shell color: While the color choice is subjective at the end of the day, neutral hot tubs tend to sell much better, as they can attract far more buyers than those with bolder colors.
- Cabinet: People love good-looking hot tub cabinets that can hide all of the internal components and create a sleek look overall.
- Cover: While the cover isn’t necessarily part of the hot tub, it can improve the overall appearance and provide an added element of protection.
Functionality can play a huge role in determining the price of a used tub. There are many things to take not of when thinking of functionality, including the:
- Heating System
- Water Care System
- Electrical Components
Unless you want to spend time and money getting someone to come and fix your used hot tub, we highly recommend looking for one that is in pristine working condition. For sellers, we recommend having your hot tub repaired and serviced before selling to get the highest dollar.
A hot tub’s trade-in value can be impacted by a few additional upgrades as well, including
- Upgraded stereo systems
- Saltwater or ozone purification system
- Wireless or app-based control system
- Unique plumbing or jets
When you purchased a hot tub used, there are plenty of costs that you will have to incur outside of the physical model itself. If you don’t want to take all of these costs on, it is important to negotiate with the buyer to split the burden.
Here are some of the additional costs you might expect to incur when purchasing a Hot Tub used:
Most hot tubs use a 220-240v electrical connection, meaning they will be hard-wired into the owner’s home.
If you purchase one of these hard-wired hot tub models, you will need to have it disconnected from the owner’s home before transporting it.
Disconnecting the electrical wiring is a job only fit for a licensed electrician.
There are plenty of reasons why, which have to do with safety and liability.
We recommend trying to get the current owner to take on the burden of this cost, as most electricians will charge anywhere from $150-200 for a service like this one.
Depending on the setup or location of the seller’s backyard, the removal and transportation of your newly purchased hot tub may be a bit tricky. While it may be as easy as finding a few buddies to help you load it into the back of your truck, there might be some instances where the involvement of a specialized dolly, forklift, or crane truck is needed.
Delivery is very similar to removal. Depending on the location, the transportation distance, and the nature of the job, you may end up spending anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Typically, hot tub transportation professionals will charge based on the distance between the pickup and delivery locations.
Now that your hot tub is in your backyard, you must find the right place to install the electrical hookups. Similar to the disconnection process, you will likely need to hire a licensed electrician to come to your house and run a 220v/50Amp line to get your spa up and running.
This service typically takes a few hours if the hot tub is within fifty feet of the electrical hookup, meaning you can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $1,200 for this type of service.
While sanitization isn’t a cost that you must include in the overall price, we highly recommend including it. Hot tubs are very intimate and using one after someone has just used it is similar to using someone’s toilet after they just used it. You probably wouldn’t buy a used toilet unless you knew it was sanitized to death. The same goes for a hot tub.
Once your hot tub is hooked up and ready to go, we recommend purging and sanitizing it with a purging product that you can find at your local supply store.
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Things To Look For When Buying a Used Hot Tub
The first thing that you want to look for when buying a hot tub used is whether it runs or not. If the spa you want to buy isn’t running properly, it might be a silly purchase. Sellers will often drain a hot tub and empty the water out of it, giving you their word that everything is in working condition. If that is the scenario you find yourself in, we would recommend avoiding it at all costs.
A seller might even have the best of intentions when selling a used tub, though depending on how many years old it is and how long it has been sitting around, it may have developed some issues that even the seller isn’t aware of.
Hot tubs that sit around without water can have corroded electrical components, dry and cracked seals, mold or mildew, or damaged plumbing lines, especially if the tub is exposed to harsh climates. It is important that you inquire to the seller about seeing the hot tub in perfect running condition — meaning you need to see it with the heater running, the pumps running, the jets on, the lights on, and the controls in working order.
You should also make sure that the seller turns on any additional features that you might want to know about, including the stereo system, waterfalls, etc.
Make sure to listen for odd noises while you’re at it. Bad bearings on jet pump motors often make grinding noises, which is a sure sign that the pump will fail soon.
You should ask to remove all of the panels around the spa while it is running so that you can inspect for any leaks. Begin by removing the panel that covers the side where the equipment is at. Make sure to check the heater and the base of the motor to see if you can spot any nearby leaks. If a leak has been present before, you will likely see stains at the base of the tub.
Also, look around the sides for any signs of past leakage. If you see any stains, ask the seller if he or she has had any past history with leaks. If the spa that you are looking at has foam insulation, you will be able to feel the foam to see if it is damp or wet, which will give you a good idea as to whether or not there is a leaking problem.
To inspect for corrosion, you will want to remove the spa cover to get a good look at the interior. Corrosion is typically pretty obvious, as it will sit just about the waterline. You will likely see it on exposed pieces of metal, including grab bars and handles.
You will also want to take this time to see if there are any fading, discolored, or disintegrating pillows or headrests. Disintegrating headrests or pillows are typically a sign of poor water care and treatment.
Poor water treatment may have also impacted some of the other internal components, such as the pumps, heaters, plumbing, and jets, which is one reason you may want to refrain from purchasing a spa if you see it has been impacted by corrosion.
Most all used hot tubs required new spa covers. When determining whether or not spa covers need replacement, we usually recommend looking at the weight.
A hot tub cover that has a foam core and a vinyl exterior should be lightweight and very easy to remove from the top of the spa.
If you notice that the hot tub cover is heavy and difficult to remove, it is likely because it is waterlogged. Due to the hot and steamy nature of hot tubs, covers typically get waterlogged after a few years unless the spa has a unique, high-quality cover.
Even so, the insulation value will typically decrease over time, which is another reason you may consider purchasing a new one.
Before you start searching high and low on the used market, you may want to look into the various spa brands within the hot tub industry. There are so many spas on the market, though not all of them come from well-known, premium brands.
Shopping for spas with premium brand name labels gives you the assurance that you are using a high-quality product and will increase the used tub value.
When looking for used spas, we highly recommend avoiding those that have wooden cabinets. While wood looks great, it is one of the least durable materials out there. In wetter climates especially, wood will deteriorate as time goes on.
You will also have to paint or restain wooden cabinetry every few years if you want to keep it in pristine condition, which is why we recommend looking for a cabinet that uses synthetic or composite materials instead.
Synthetic cabinetry and composite cabinetry do not require as much maintenance, meaning they will retain their looks far better and help maintain insulation over time.
Make sure to inspect the entirety of the shell for any signs of damage, including scratches, cracking, crazing (spider-web-style fractures), or blistering (delamination). This part of the inspection process is much better when the hot tub is drained, which is why it is best to save this part for last.
While there are a few cases where the damage might be minimal and easy to repair, we would recommend you walk away from any deal where you notice damage like what we mentioned above.
There are many different types of shells out there, though if you’re looking for the strongest type of shell around, then we recommend looking for fiberglass acrylic shells. As of today, there are not any stronger types of shells in the spa industry.
Should I Buy a Used Hot Tub?
If you choose to buy used, there is nothing out there that says you won’t be able to find a high-quality hot tub at a far lower cost than what you would spend purchasing one new. It’s the same for buying things like used furniture, clothing, appliances, or smartphones. If you’re looking to save a bundle of money and get access to total relaxation right away, buying used can be a great idea.
Of course, you may not get the latest and greatest spa with Bluetooth speakers of ultra-powerful jets, though you might be surprised as to what you stumble upon when you begin looking. A hot tub can retain its high-quality character if it is taken care of over the years.
Whether you find your used spa model through a website, friend, or dealership, you will end up spending far less than you would on a new model, which can balance out the few disadvantages of buying a hot tub new.
Disadvantages of Buying a Spa Used?
As with everything in life, there is a positive and negative. For starters, when it comes to buying used hot tubs, your overall selection will have a limit based on what people are selling at the time.
Yes, you may stumble upon an incredible deal when looking for a used spa, though your choices won’t be as versatile as they would be buying from a dealership.
It should also be noted that you won’t have the benefit of shipping or delivery service access that you get through a dealership either. To get your hot tub to your house and in your backyard without a scratch on it, you’ll need to use your own ingenuity. In the same way, you will also need to deal with the installation on your own too.
Of course, you could hire people to do all of this so that you never have to lift a finger, though that just means you’re spending a good deal of cash that you attempted to save by buying used.
Another thing to note is that used hot tubs do not come with warranties. All of them are sold to customers as-is, even the ones you find in spa stores. If your hot tub requires any maintenance beyond the regular spa chemicals, you will have to pay for it on your own.
Compared to new spas, a used model will probably have a bit more wear. Spas with wear have an increased risk of needing maintenance sooner than later, which is why can’t stress the importance of assessing the spa before you buy it so that you can have the best hot tub experience possible right out of the gate.
Should I Find A Hot Tub With A Warranty?
We often see sellers advertising on Craigslist that their spas are still under warranty. However, it is important to note that warranties will not transfer from one owner to the next. For buyers, warranties are essentially useless and should not be part of your consideration when you are searching for spas to buy online, even if the seller states that the spa is still protected under factory warranty.
Where Can I Buy A Hot Spa Used?
There are three main places that you can look for used spa models, including Craigslist, Newspapers, or local stores. Each of these places has advantages and disadvantages that are worth taking into consideration.
One of the best resources for buying just about anything used is Craigslist. You will constantly find listings in the hundreds, allowing you to find the perfect spa for your needs. Of course, the one negative thing about Craigslist is that there is no accountability. You get what you get and there’s not much you can do about it if it doesn’t work, which is why it is so important to do an assessment of the spa you want.
Plus, when you purchase through Craigslist, you won’t get all of the shipping, delivery, or installation benefits that you might get from a store.
Before Craigslist, people would go to the classifieds in the Newspaper to find interesting used items in their area. While most sellers aren’t as inclined to sell their used items through the newspapers as much as they used to be, it is still worth looking into.
Occasionally, you will find a gem that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
Spa Stores or Dealerships
We are major advocates here at Yarsharing for purchasing used spa models from spa stores or dealerships.
There are a few reasons why we think this is the best way to do it.
For starters, retail stores will generally give any used product a full inspection and run it through tests before putting it out on the selling floor.
Secondly, they will typically check the equipment area and replace any components that aren’t up to snuff.
Any issues with the spa will likely be fixed before they try and sell it to you.
Third, you can expect that they will handle the shipping and delivery of the spa. Most of the time, these stores include the delivery and installation in the price.
Lastly, they may have warranties available that cover the spas for a short period. You will need to inquire about that one though, as every store is different.
When all is said and done, a store is a business. The last thing they would want to do is sell you a lemon, as it would tarnish their reputation. Yes, you might pay a bit more than you would on Craigslist or through classifieds in the newspaper, though you will have peace of mind that you wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else.
Bottom Line – Is Buying Used Worth It?
Prices for brand new spas have seemingly skyrocketed in the past few years. As more and more manufacturers add premium designs to their spas, they, unfortunately, create exclusivity that pushes the everyday person away from the dream of hot tub ownership.
Luckily, there are so many ways to buy hot tubs beyond the ones you find at local spa stores. Of course, whenever you find the hot tub that you think is the right choice for you, make sure to ask questions and do your assessment so that you don’t get home with a lemon.
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A lawyer never retires. So I would just say that I am not as active as I used to be. Now I simply dedicate myself to fishing, my hobby, and my grandchildren. For Business Finance News I write about legal aspects of mortgage policies, mostly regarding the rights of policyholders. I also have articles about personal injuries.