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Sell My Boat

Sell My Boat: 10 tips to get the best price, quickly and easily.

The chance of selling your boat for the highest price, quickly,and without significant complication, can be significantly improved through a process of preparation. Here are a few tips which, if followed, will improve your chance of a quick, easy sale at the right price.

1: Make the decision to sell your boat

Sell_My_Boat_DecisionPreparing to sell your boat starts with the emotionally charged decision to let it go. In some instances, this is easy. You may have found yourself in a position to move up to a bigger, or newer boat. Or it may be that your boat has reached the age when it requires more maintenance than you want to provide. But for some, selling a boat that has taken them on magical adventures, or entertained their family and friends, can be a difficult choice to make.

Regardless of how you got there, if you are going to be successful, you must be absolutely committed to selling your boat, and watching it sail out of your life. If you are uncertain, or wavering, you are not going to be prepared to handle offers for less money, offers contingent on repairs or other conditions, or the thought of spending money preparing the boat so that it will “show” better.

The successful sale of your boat may well hinge on how mentally and emotionally committed you are to making it happen. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to sell my boat?” When you know the answer, and are committed to it, you are ready to sell your boat.

2: Remove your personal possessions from your boat

Sell_My_Boat_Remove_StuffThis one is critical! Once you have committed to selling your boat, even if you are still using it occasionally, you must take ALL of your personal possessions off the boat. Put the things you feel you need when you are using the boat into easily transportable containers, and bring those to the boat when you want to use it, but load them up and take them away when you are done.

When a potential buyer comes to inspect and consider your boat they are thinking about their dreams. Will your boat be able to take them away to whatever imaginary place they have in mind? They want to visualize how your boat might fit into their dreams. But, their dreams do not include your stuff. As a matter of fact, your stuff may well burst the bubble of their dream.

Make it easy for potential buyers to envision themselves putting their stuff into the various storage areas on the boat. Allow them to imagine hanging their clothes in the hanging locker. Or putting their dishes, glasses and silverware into THEIR new boat. Help them to imagine owning your boat, and making it their own. Many boat buying decisions are very personal ones, based on dreams and desires. Don’t insert yourself into a buyers dream. Give them every opportunity to insert your boat into theirs.

3: Remove your boat spares and maintenance items

Sell_My_Boat_Remove_Spare_PartsEven if you plan to sell your spares, extra oil, filters, and some tools with the boat, take them off and store them in suitable containers ashore. Leave them in a dock box, or a marina storage area, or take them home, but get them off the boat. As with your personal possessions, potential buyers want to image where they will place their spares and tools. They want to image themselves organizing their new boat exactly as they want it. Give them that opportunity. Let them imagine their new boat EXACTLY as THEY want. Let them imagine owning the boat.

4: Make sure everything works on the boat you’re selling

Sell_My_Boat_Test_Manual_Bilge_PumpIf you are trying to sell your boat quickly, and get the best (highest) price, go through the entire boat and test, or operate, everything. Turn on all electronics, and ensure they are working correctly. Run all pumps, operate manual bilge pumps, check float switches for debris which could stop proper operation. Ensure that all hatches, doors, cabinets and lockers open and close, securely. Plug something into every electrical outlet, and be certain every one is operational. In short, do a complete and thorough inspection of the vessel, and repair anything that isn’t 100%.

On larger vessels it may even be worth hiring a professional, and having them do a complete inspection. Once that is complete have a dockside professional, or a qualified boatyard, repair or replace anything that is not working. In some instances, when very old electronics are not operational it may make sense to simply remove the item and allow the new owner to make a choice about which brand and type of electronics to replace it with. (assuming the removal does not leave a big ugly hole)

The vast majority of boats for sale will be surveyed, and potential owners use inoperable equipment, broken or missing items and things like torn sails or broken fittings to negotiate lower prices. These negotiation can slow a sale, reduce the price and sometimes stop the sale completely. Leave your potential buyer with nothing to prevent him from thinking your boat is his dream boat. And nothing to use as leverage for a lower price. You will dramatically increase your chances of selling your boat quickly, and at the best price. Experience tells us that the cost of repairs is often less than the reduction in price the buyer will ask for. And even a short list of things that need repair can turn an interested buyer away completely.

5: Clean the interior of your boat, including all storage areas

Sell_My_Boat_Clean_InteriorEvery area inside your boat that you can see or touch should be cleaned. Storage spaces in particular deserve a good clean-up as potential buyers often run their hand through a storage space as they imagine what they will put in there, and how it will serve them as they sail away into their dream. Don’t forget the sail lockers and cockpit storage!

Once again, create a blank canvas on which the potential buyer can paint his dream.

6: Eliminate all odors on your boat for sale

Sell_My_Boat_Remove_OdorsOur boats are a breeding ground for unpleasant odors. We have heads which use seawater to flush, and may even store waste for later removal. We have bilges which almost always have a small accumulation which the bilge pump doesn’t remove. We store maintenance items and tools, which would typically be relegated to a garage, right inside the boat! And our fresh water often sits in the storage tank too long. Not to mention the diesel engine under the stairs. (Would you store an old diesel in your home? No? Why not? Because it smells bad!)

First impressions count, and if the very first impression of the inside of your boat is a bad smell, the most beautiful interior fabrics will not change that negative impression. Don’t just cover up the smells, find the cause and eradicate it!

7: Have the boat you’re selling professionally cleaned

Sell_My_Boat_Professional_CleaningRealtors will often tell you that “Curb Appeal” is the most important aspect of selling a home. It’s no different with selling a boat. The first impression frequently makes a huge difference in how a potential buyers perceives your boat as they work toward their buying decision.

The hull and deck should be professionally cleaned, polished and waxed. (protected – most current protective finishes are not actually wax any more) Remove any protective covers, and have your professional clean under them. Open any on-deck storage and have them clean inside. They should use appropriate cleansers to remove stains and polished to restore luster as needed.

If your boat doesn’t sell after a month or so, it should be washed again, and put on a regular schedule to keep it fresh.

8: Don’t forget the brightwork!

Sell_My_Boat_Varnishing_BrightworkBrightwork is exposed metal and varnished woodwork, and it’s like the jewelry on our boats.  And just like fine jewelry, it should sparkle and shine, to catch the eye of your boat’s new suitor.

The marine environment is hard on our boats, and particularly hard on the brightwork, especially in sunny locations like St. Petersburg, Florida, where I live. The sun can do more damage than the salt and the wind blowing dust and dirt on-board. 

So, take the time to shine things up, or ask your detailer to do it, but for the best chance of sell your boat be sure to pay special attention to the brightwork.

9: Repair or replace old canvas on your boat

Sell_My_Boat_Repair_Torn_CanvasOnce your boat is clean it’s time to take a hard look at your canvas. Keep in mind that we use canvas to protect our  boat, and ourselves, from the environment, but canvas is a form of sacrificial protection. By covering sails, brightwork and running rigging with canvas we are essentially letting the sun and elements eat up the canvas, instead of whatever we are protecting. But that means that our canvas is deteriorating from the moment we put it on the boat. As a result, some “wear” is expected, but we need to balance that against our desire for great “Curb Appeal.”

At the very least, your canvas should not have any rips, or tears. Snaps, velcro and other fasteners should all be in working order. If the stitching is coming undone, it’s pretty economical to have canvas re-stitched. If you have canvas on the boat, be sure it works, and make it look the best it can.

Additionally, it’s worthwhile to point out that if your canvas is in particularly bad shape, or is missing, it speaks to the potential buyer about how you maintain the entire boat, and can be cause for serious concern. You want your potential buyer to believe that you have been keeping EVERY aspect of “their new boat” in perfect condition.

10: List your boat for sale with a Yacht Broker

Sell_My_Boat_Hire_A_Yacht_Broker_2This should probably be #1, instead of #10. When you list your boat with a qualified Yacht Broker they will almost certainly suggest the previous 9 tips. But they may also help you find the easiest and most affordable ways to accomplish these tips as well.

When you say “Sell my boat,” they immediately go to work on your behalf. Their first order of business is to help you prepare the boat to be shown. And that’s what this whole article is about.

But keep in mind that a Yacht Broker can put your listing in front of a much larger audience. And, they may even know someone who is actively looking for a boat like yours.  They will also act as your representative throughout the process, and are experts at negotiating the best deal for you, and making all of the legal requirements simpler.  They are your professional guide from start to finish.

“Sell my boat?” A great Yacht Broker is the best answer!