It’s a lot easier to buy your boat than to sell it. I guess that’s why you see far more articles and books about buying a boat than about selling one. To sell your boat takes time, money, patience, and finding the right buyer. Having to sell your boat first, before upgrading to another boat, can add pressure and be frustrating. But, if you know the seven tips below, there’s a good chance your boat will sell faster than it otherwise would have.
7 Top Tips to Selling Your Used Boat:
1. Make your boat more saleable-take these six steps
Declutter your boat and let it shine. A clean boat sells.
Don’t lose interest. Buyers pick up on this. Staying interested in keeping up with repairs and how the boat looks is extremely important.
Fix what’s broken. Don’t expect buyers to fix things. If something breaks or looks worn, either repair or replace it. This shows the potential buyer that you still care about your boat. That energy rubs off onto the buyer.
Clean the engine room. No oil, grease, or paint-chipped parts. Unfortunately, this is the biggest deal breaker. It’s like walking into someplace that has mold on the walls, dirty bathrooms, and greasy carpets-a real turnoff!
Clean the bilge. Make sure it’s not full of dirt, leaves, oil, etc. A smelly bilge is another turnoff, especially for women buyers.
Remove personal items. You want the buyers to imagine or envision their own stuff on the boat. Also, any personal stuff you leave on the boat could, and will, be assumed by the potential buyers to be part of the sale.
2. Determine your boat’s best price
If you decide to sell your boat yourself, do your homework. Search the internet for boats similar to yours with the same features, model, and year. Look at used boat magazines. What are these boats selling for? What condition are they in? Where are they located? Are they being sold privately or through a yacht broker?
Yacht brokers can do more research through various websites and books such as ABOS™ Marine Blue Book, BUC® Used Boat Price Guide, and PowerBoat Guide. These books give them an idea of a boat’s current value. The websites they use can tell them what a particular boat sold for in the past. If, in your research, you see a comparable boat being sold via a yacht broker in your area, there’s a good chance that you should be pricing your boat similarly.
Once you have an idea of how much boats like yours are selling for, you can then make a logical decision on how much to sell yours for. Don’t get trapped into thinking that your boat is worth more than it really is; or, if you still owe money for your boat, that you can sell the boat for the loan balance. Timing is everything, and pricing your boat appropriately is what helps it be seen, then sold, promptly.
3. Take photographs
Boaters love looking at photographs of boats and their parts-the more, the better. Think about the types of photos you like looking at. Take a walk around your boat and take lots of photographs from different angles of the port, transom, starboard, stern, and bow. On sailboats, take photos of the companion way, mainsail, and mast. If you can get pictures of your boat from the water and/or pictures of your boat in the water away from docks, that will be even better.
Next, take inside photos. Before you do, make sure the inside of your boat is tidy and clean, and that everything you’re not selling with the boat is out of the way. In other words, if you are not selling that flat screen TV in your salon, don’t have it in your pictures. Take photos of the electronics, forward cabin, engine room, engines, heads, galley, salon, state rooms, v-berth, etc. You’ll also need photos of the helm, fly bridge, companion, and mate helm seats. If the boat is on the hard, take photos of the propellers, rudder, and/or keel.
Take overall photos, not just close-ups. Again, look at other boats for sale and notice which of their photos you like to look at-guaranteed, your potential buyers will like them also.
Where you place your ad will determine how much information goes into it. However, the more places you can place your ad, the better are your chances that it will be seen. There are several websites and forums that will let you advertise your boat for free. These include Craigslist.org, BoatBoss.com, and AdPost.com, to name a few. Other sites advertise no fee, but will actually charge you in the vicinity of $350 up front. So, make sure you read the fine print first before placing your boat ad online. Used boat magazines are still a good way to go, but don’t limit yourself to just them. They are harder to update with price changes, photographs, etc.
Your ad should include a full description of your boat, the number of hours on the engine and generator, as well as dates and notes on any major rebuilds. Is your boat fresh water or raw cool? You’ll want to reveal any weaknesses the boat may have, how long you’ve owned the boat, and, most importantly, why you’re selling it. It’s okay to say you’re moving up to a bigger boat, stepping down to a smaller one, or retiring from boating. At the end of this chapter you will find a table with a list of specifications you should include in your ad-use this as a worksheet for writing your ad.
Wherever it is, put a “for sale” sign on your boat so others around will know you’re selling.
Last, but not least, create a sales brochure for your boat and keep copies handy.
5. Time your sale
Most boats sell between March and September, with a lull in late August and early September. During April through June, people are looking, especially, for purchase by the July 4th holiday. November quiets down again. If at all possible, have your boat in its natural environment (the water) for the best show. On average, it takes a good three to six months to sell a boat. However, some boats have been known to sit for years. It depends on how well you priced your boat to sell, how clean it is, and how well it’s advertised.
6. Decide whether to use a broker
If you don’t have time to do the research to write and place ads, create and put up signs, take calls and make appointments, show your boat, or sell your boat, a broker is the best way to go. A broker can do all the running around for you, i.e., place the ads, qualify the buyer, show your boat, etc. A broker has access to other brokers; better websites on which to place ads than non-brokers have, such as YachtWorld.com; and the used boat books mentioned in Tip 2 above.
Most boat brokers charge a 10 percent commission, though some charge less. Most brokers truly earn their commissions.
7. Be careful about upkeep and use during the selling process
Maintain your boat insurance until you close the deal.
Keep the area around the portholes clean, the batteries acid free, and no mold or mildew showing anywhere. If you’re demonstrating the boat, take off the plastic. Let the potential new owners feel the wind in their faces.
Don’t use your boat after you’ve signed a purchase and sale agreement (P&S) and/or have a deposit from the buyer.
If your boat is old and/or hasn’t had been surveyed recently, contact an accredited marine surveyor and have it done. Either way, have a copy of the latest marine survey for your boat available for review by potential buyers.
Have receipts on hand for big-ticket items you’ve bought and repairs you’ve done, or the name and contact information of the service center that did your repairs, in case your potential buyer or the marine surveyor asks to see them.
As mentioned in Tip 4, here is a list that you may want to put into a table and can use as a worksheet for developing effective text for advertisements and brochures about your boat.
Type of boat
Year built/year first used
Additional Specifications and Information
LOA (Length overall)
Engine HP (horse power)
Fresh water tanks