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Five Tips on How to Sell Your Boat Thumbnail

Five Tips on How to Sell Your Boat

It’s time to move on. Yes, you’ve had lots of good times together. Some of your best memories, in fact. Sure, there was the occasional hiccup when things didn’t go right, but you were always together through thick and thin.

But your boat isn’t your spouse, and the simple economic fact is holding onto your boat for too long is costing your wallet, dearly. Plus, there may be a better boat just around the corner.

Selling your boat may seem like an emotional and arduous endeavor. The five tips laid out in this post can help you chart a course of action to minimize the time your boat sits on the market and maximize your boat’s selling value.

1. Make A Sales Plan

Your first step is to determine whether or not you will try to sell the boat yourself or if you will employ the services of a boat broker or dealer. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Sometimes, though, the decision will be made for you: smaller, trailerable boats are too small for consideration with a broker, requiring you to take all of the necessary steps yourself.

If you choose to sell your boat yourself, be prepared for the amount of work heading your way. The list seems endless: from qualifying potential buyers, to staging and shooting your boat, to attending showings, to posting and updating advertisements. Of course, the main benefit is saving on the fee to employ a broker, but be mindful of the hidden costs you may incur. These include additional maintenance and upkeep while you juggle your time between work and selling your boat.

A broker can take care of all of the minutiae for you. For a fee, of course. The industry standard is 10% of the selling price, but this rate may be negotiable. A broker also offers the benefit of being in the thick of the marine market day in and day out, thus having a pulse on the buyer base and pricing trends. This can help you set better expectations for a reasonable selling price and speed up your selling timeline. 

2. Price It Properly 

If you were looking for a new boat, where would you go first? The likely answer is online listings from brokerages and other marketplaces. Where better to start, then, when you want to sell your boat? By researching the listings (like those on Yachtworld, BoatTrader, and Boats.com) and prices comparable to your current boat, you get a better sense of the current market. Make a list of similar boats for sale, making a note to determine which features match your boat and which do not. Look at the boats’ total engine hours, bottom paint, recent overhauls, etc.

General pricing guides exist, as well. The two most popular services are BUC and NADA and can be considered the Kelley Blue Book of boating. However, boat values can differ, markedly, from the estimates published in these two guides due to differences in maintenance and upkeep, overhauls and features, and local considerations. Note, though, that banks will include these valuation estimates in their calculation of the boat’s value, so they are still a pricing consideration. 

Finally, try to take your emotion out of the process. No one needs a boat. You likely bought your vessel as a reward for your hard work and to create a better experience and set of memories for your family. Remember that one time you all slept under the stars and listened to the rocking of the waves? The hard answer is that potential buyers don’t care about that; they are concerned with performance, upkeep, and engine life. Try to think the same way when pricing your boat.

3. Prepare Your Boat for Sale

It may seem like common sense, but make sure your boat is clean and pristine before any shootings, stagings, or showings. Do a deep cleaning, both of the exterior of the boat as well as the interior. Consider hiring a professional detailer to make your boat pop, particularly ahead of a video shoot or important showing.

Don’t forget to remove your personal items and declutter your boat. Buyers want to imagine their life on the boat, not see a reflection of yours when touring the cabin. Further, completely removing all nonessential equipment and items makes the boat look bigger.

Does your boat need a few minutes to cycle through a whirring of the port engine before you are on your way? We’ve all been there, but these seemingly small mechanical quirks will scare away potential buyers. Get all of these little oddities and issues fixed before seriously showing your boat.

4. Advertise Your Boat

While your personal items won’t draw the eye of a buyer, certain small touches, like decorative pillows, centerpieces, table settings, and fresh bedding will. Knowing exactly what to include and how to highlight may seem confusing, but an experienced boat broker who has been through hundreds of walkthroughs can help you best stage your boat.

Make sure you include high-quality photos and videos of your boat on your listing. Boats listed with video sell up to 20 percent faster than those listed without. Further, avoid shooting videos in bad lighting, busy backgrounds, or, gasp, with your boat on a trailer. You want a video highlighting a smooth ride on the open water. It’s important you lead with a “hero” shot, as well. A high-quality, side-angle photo of your boat on the water creates a strong first impression.

Make the process easy for potential buyers by making sure you have copies of title, registration, and Coast Guard documentation, and highlight this in your listing. This will let buyers know you are serious about a sale and diligent with your boat. Your listing should also include all of the best features of, and recent upgrades to, your vessel.

5. Show Your Boat 

After you’ve completed all the above, you can now start to show your boat to potential buyers. In a COVID-19 world, virtual tours have picked up considerably, though sea trials remain an integral part of the puzzle. Practice your sales pitch in advance and know answers to common questions, such as the boat’s condition and key features.

This also may seem obvious but it’s worth stating: Placing your boat where the most potential buyers can see it will dramatically increase your chances at making a timely sale. For trailerable boats, consider high-traffic areas, or even highway frontage. For larger boats, marinas or the broker or dealer’s office are an ideal choice. Note that if you take your boat out on the weekend, it has a lower chance of being seen by potential buyers cruising during their downtime.

Here are a few more last-minute tips: Start the engines and warm them up an hour before a showing. Balky starts can happen, even for sound engines, and will turn off a buyer. You can also apply spray-on furniture wax to give your boat another pop; this can be wiped off quickly, and easily, afterward. Finally, removing canvases, lightening up on fuel and water, and stowing all but the safety gear helps the boat plane better, handle more nimbly, and reach a higher top-end speed.

Financial Planning with Harbor Crest Wealth Advisors

All adventures eventually come to an end. Don’t let the process of selling your boat get you down. Following the five tips laid out in this post will minimize your selling timeline and maximize your boat’s selling value. If you would like additional advice on how to manage the financial investment you made into your family’s boating lifestyle, sign up for our newsletter.