How to sell
a sailboat.
         Please send any comments to me.

This page updated: June 2014
      




Preparation and Location section
Pricing section
Broker or not ? section
Advertising section
Showing the boat section
Closing the deal section





Chris Caswell's "How To Sell Your Boat"
Chris Caswell's "Selling Your Boat"
eHow's "How to Sell Your Sailboat"
SailNet - Gregg Nestor's "Selling Your Own Sailboat"
Des Ryan Share's "Selling your boat for the best outcome"
Lenny Rudow's "How to Sell Your Boat for the Highest Price"
Chris Caswell's "Sell Your Boat for More"





Preparation and Location

Corinthian's "Getting Your Boat Ready to Sell"
James Wells' "9 ways to boost your home's appeal for less than $75"

To do:

From Tim L. on Cruising World message board:
Re: Best Location To Sell Boat:

Boats (or any other product) further away from the customer, all else being equal, sell for less money. Search yachtworld.com for your boat; where most of them are is where you should go to sell yours. That's where they are popular.

From staceyneil on Cruising World message board:
Move the boat where it is near other like boats. We traveled to a few places where we could see 3-4 boats within say a 6-hour drive, so we only had to buy 1 plane ticket (i.e. the Chesapeake, or Long Island, NY, or NC, or Florida). We were much more hesitant to look at boats in remote locations where we'd have to take a special trip to go see it.

From "The Dollars and Sense of Sailboat Ownership" by Jeff Spranger (on Amazon):
Before selling:







Pricing

Chris Caswell's "Best Bet Blue Books"
"What's She Worth?" article in 6/2001 issue of Practical Sailor.
Chris Caswell's "Pricing to Sell"

Set a realistic asking price.








Broker or not ?

From Gary Elder:
Many sellers have no clue about how much their boat is worth in today's market.
Many sellers have no clue about how to price their boat relative to it's real market value.
Many sellers have no clue about how to market their boat.
Many sellers have no clue how clean, a clean boat really is.
Many sellers have no clue about what "possible defects" to disclose to a buyer.
Many sellers have no clue how expensive it can be to "sell-it-themselves".
Many sellers have no clue how to find a really good broker.

The answer to most of these questions can be found easily, once one finds a really good broker. My perception of a really good broker is, someone who has several years experience earning his/her entire income selling used sailboats. This is not someone who retired and thought it would be fun to sell boats for a while. This is not someone who is a boat-bum or a grounded cruiser who sits around waiting for a few easy sales to find him. This person is a career professional boat sales person whose career and good income is dependent on successfully selling used sailboats.

A really good broker will have access to current listings of boats that are similar to yours, and he will happily give you copies of those listings and their prices.

A really good broker will have access to verifiable documentation of recent sales of boats that are similar to yours, and he will happily show you copies of those sales, including the actual selling price. If he won't show you those copies, it's time to look for another broker - period.

Any decent broker will have access to a "boat multiple listing service". How he uses that service is one area that separates the really good brokers from the mediocre. A really good broker knows that simply determining value and then picking an asking price from thin air can be foolish. Our really good broker knows that each boat attracts buyers who have a mind-set of how much money they want to spend, that those buyers have a price range in mind, and that they won't bother responding to ads that are very far outside of their personal price window. This window can vary greatly, based on boat value, class of boat, age of boat, etc. Our really good broker will know where these windows are for your boat, and help you price your boat such that the high end of your boat's value is near the bottom half of the buyers price window. Doing that will leave some money in the buyer's budget to pay for survey, haul-out, upgrades, etc. If the boat is priced too high, the buyer won't call, and if it's priced too low, he still won't call. He will call on boats that are priced within his price window - if they are priced properly.

Our really good broker will know where to spend advertising money effectively to market your particular boat, while many mediocre brokers either don't advertise or simply use the less than effective "shot-gun" method. Most folks who buy sailboats in the 30 - 45 ft range seem to be married couples, so we decorate most of the interior for the wife - set the table, put towels in the head, a few dishes in the galley, and a mild sachet in the salon. Maybe even a couple of small pillows on the settee. We even put a cheap Captain's hat in the nav station (the wife sees it and visualizes her husband sitting there, competently plotting their course). The helm station is often the husband's domain, and it is spotlessly clean and polished.

How clean is your boat? My perception of clean is that it begins with removing everything from the boat that isn't going to stay with the boat when it sells. To me, re-doing all the varnish is part of making a boat clean - fresh varnish does wonders to impress that perfect buyer. Removing all that loose oxidation from the old gel coat is part of making a boat clean too. Keeping the bottom clean is part of "clean" as well - a clean bottom will impress the buyer when he looks at the waterline, and at sea trial time, the boat will perform better.

Most boats on the used market that I've looked at over the years are filthy. Often there is years worth of crud in the little crevices and corners that every galley has; same for the head. Engine rooms often have black oil splattered on the bulkheads, storage lockers often have all sorts of crud in their corners, and bilges - well if they are not bright and squeaky clean, they are dirty. If you want to impress a buyer, and help sell your boat, paint the inside of every locker, engine room, and bilge bright white.

If you want to get a good price for your boat, and not create a negotiation nightmare after the survey, disclose every possible defect you can think of - or fix them. If the boat needs new sheets and halyards, change 'em. It's cheap and does wonders to help with the first impression. If the boat needs a new water heater, install one, it will go a long way towards impressing the buyer. If the bad water heater shows up at survey ... well, you get the idea. If a broker suggests you hide a defect, look for a new broker.

Many times sellers think they can get a better bottom-line price for their boat by selling it themselves. Well, maybe. Yes, if you successfully sell your boat yourself, you won't pay a commission. Yes, there are folks who do succeed in selling their boat without a broker's help. One of the first issues that many sellers don't seem to understand is that there can be serious legal issues to deal with - and you will be on your own to resolve them. Nuff said.

Another issue is that many folks who would buy a for-sale-by-owner boat have unrealistic concepts of what the price should be. First they often take 10% off the value, "because the seller isn't paying commission", then they try to compare the seller's boat with the lowest-priced listings they can find, then they "low-ball" that number. This often results in a seller with an unrealistically high perception of what his boat is worth and a buyer who has an unrealistically low perception of what he should pay for that boat. It can be really difficult to get them to agree on a price.

Many sellers find that after a year of trying to sell without a broker, it's time to pay for a haul out, re-do all the initial work that was done at the beginning, pay another year's insurance bill, dockage bills, etc, etc. And for most of that year, the boat probably didn't really look sharp. Yep, it's a years worth of boat ownership costs, plus the cost of trying to keep the boat looking sellable.

My perception of the bottom line of how to sell a boat quickly, and for the best price, is to find a really good broker, put the boat at his dock, and do what he/she advises you to do. But first, clean, clean, clean. I'm sure there are exceptions to all this, and some folks will disagree, but if your plan is to sell your boat as opposed to trying to sell your boat, this is an approach that works.

This is all based on my own experience with selling my last three sailboats, and talking to a large number of wannabe sellers and buyers. The last two boats sold for top dollar in less than six weeks and had less than $100 of survey items. The first one took about two months, and had no survey items.

Check the contract: does the broker's commission get adjusted down if the final sale price gets adjusted down after the survey ?

Check your broker's responsiveness before committing:
have a friend email the broker asking some question about some listed boat, and see if they get a prompt and accurate answer.

From Linda Campbell on Cruising World message board:
My boat is listed for sale, but I won't use a broker.

I know they are only trying to make a living, but so am I. I'm not going to shell out $20K (10%) for some advertising and paperwork. I can show the boat myself. Yes, YachtWorld.com is popular, but only to buyers. Sellers cannot advertise there without being listed by a broker. They should have a "For Sale By Owner" category. I think brokers may be suffering from internet advertising, because now sellers have greater exposure.

More from Linda Campbell on Cruising World message board:
Yacht Brokers don't negotiate that 10% commission.

I listed my boat in Yacht World under the section "looking for a broker" ... as that is all they will let you do as a seller. I was contacted by several brokers, and I responded to each ... telling them that I can show it myself, and all I needed was advertizing. I suggested a negotiated commission. Nobody wrote back. Case closed. One very nice broker I talked to claimed that HE didn't get that much out of a commission, and was struggling to make a living. But the money is going SOMEWHERE besides my bank account.
From Bernie on Cruising World message board:
I run a brokerage firm, and 75% of my fees are based on the amount of work done, and remember that nothing in life is set in stone, except death ...

From Trevor on Cruising World message board:
Try an "open listing" deal.

I sold my Formosa 51 in less than 2 months on the internet (but as it turns out, not independently). I placed a dozen or so ads on the "freebie" sites and talked to a few brokers. Although most brokers say they won't do this, it's not a bad deal for them since they aren't obligated to advertise - but they will if you have a marketable boat ... I listed the boat with a broker in an "open listing" which allows the broker to collect commission if he/she refers the actual buyer, but allows me to sell the boat myself without paying ANY commission. Sort of an all-or-nothing arrangement you would think. As it turned out, I ended up showing the boat to several people based on my personal ads. However, the 1 person to be referred by the broker made an offer. The offer was within 6% of my asking price, so I countered closer. When I held my ground the broker caved on his portion of his commission in order to get the deal. Leverage! I was able to sell the boat through a broker by paying less than 10% and the broker was able to get paid for selling the boat without spending the effort to show it; he just advertised for me and handled the paperwork and was paid. Fair deal all around. The broker is located 2 states away and I've never met him.

From Paul Martin on alt.sailing.asa newsgroup:
... If you don't feel up to putting a serious effort into pushing the sale through, turn it over to a serious broker with an exclusive for 60 days and make sure he understands that if he doesn't sell it within that time, you will pull the exclusive. This should give him incentive to push for a sale. Remember, even used car salesmen don't make any money if they don't make a sale. You may not enjoy the process of convincing someone they should buy your boat and buy it NOW, and close the deal, but that is what you're paying a salesman for. ...

From BJV on Cruising World message board:
Re: Use a broker or not?

Just sold my boat and did not use a broker but did it myself, albeit it was on a $15K boat. Can't help on establishing prices, but can advise on advertizing. I listed the boat strictly on the net via boatsearch (available through Sailnet.com) and also Boat trader online. Both have reasonable rates and the boat search site offers a flat rate one time payment to list the boat indefinitely. Got lots of hits/replys by listing only with these two sites.

Selling yourself means you save brokers fees. But recognize that this comes at a price, your time. You will have to send emails, pics, meet potential buyers and show your boat. All this takes time and effort and if you have a hectic schedule then this might not be for you. Conversely if you have the time, who better knows your boat than you, but make sure you have a hard skin as some buyers will verbally abuse your boat in hopes of striking a better deal.

My limited advice is that if you are patient and have time available to show the boat, try it yourself, if not then get a good broker. Remember there is nothing which states that you can't go to a broker later.

From staceyneil on Cruising World message board:
We also sold the last boat ourselves, but have used brokers to BUY our last 2 boats. We sold our Tartan for $21k, but I know that some people DO sell pricier boats "FSBO".

Advantages to using a broker:

- If you get a motivated one, they will actively "shop" the listing around, send it to other brokers they know who might have interested buyers, etc. They also have access to listing on Yachtworld.com, where MANY boat shoppers look. As a FSBO seller you can't list it there. However, yachtworld.com has a sister site http://www.boats.com, which is nearly identical. It is also mostly brokerage boats but you can put a private listing there too. It is not expensive and we got 5-6 calls from there. More about that below. Brokers also have a big net that's private to them where they can access every single brokerage boat on the market ... so your boat will be visible to all other brokers with possible clients.

- The broker will not only handle the phone calls (which can be annoying) but will also show the boat for you. You don't need to be there.

- The broker will handle all the closing procedures ... i.e. the first sale agreement contract when an offer's made, then revise it if the price is negotiated after survey, then final closing documents. Fee: the seller I believe pays 10% of the final price. IF your "selling" broker finds the buyer himself, he keeps the whole thing. IF the buyer has their own broker, the two decide how to split the fee up fairly, based on how much work each one did, how far they had to travel to show the boat, etc. (Atleast this is my understanding of it...)

- When we bought the last boat, we hired a broker to act as our "buyer broker" like when you are looking for a house. She found listings for us (although in this internet age we pretty much found them all before she did!) She then called the selling broker and got full details for us, set up viewings, and handled all the negotiations and paperwork when we made an offer and purchased. Which brings up the problem that if you sell it yourself, you may be eliminating a whole field of buyers who don't do the looking themselves, but hire a buyer broker to bring them listings. Most buyer brokers do not search FSBO listings, only other brokerage listings. And if a buyer with a broker is interested in your boat, what will happen about the broker's fee? I haev seen some FSBO listings that state: NO BROKERS. (When we looked at a FSBO boat in Florida, we told our broker about it but it was understood that she would have nothing to do with it if we decided to make an offer on this particular boat ...) That is one way to go. But then your only customer pool are those people doing the searching on their own. I guess it depends on the market for the particular boat: are most buyers for that make / price range searching themselves or hiring brokers?

RE: survey. I don't know why you would pay for one yourself. The first person to make an offer on the boat is going to have it surveyed at THEIR expense. You should set the price based on your personal knowledge of the condition. It's your boat, you must have some idea! Remember that most people are going to offer less than you ask anyway, and then expect to get money taken off for things they find wrong (there's always SOMETHING) at survey. However, if you decide to use a broker they can definitely help you set the asking price. I don't know if they'd hire a surveyor: I kinda doubt it. They'd probably just inspect it themselves.

Selling it FSBO: First of all, set up a good web site. (Personally I recommend doing this EVEN IF YOU USE A BROKER ... their listings are often pretty crappy.) Ours was a relatively small and amateur site, but it generated a ton of interest. People want to see LOTS of GOOD photos, a good specification sheet, equipment lists, and so on. If you have it all on a thorough web site you don't have to be mailing/faxing out photocopied lists all the time, you can just give folks the URL for the site. Any place you advertise, your ad can be shorter (i.e. cheaper) because you can say, "See details at http://www.whatever.com". Then, put ads wherever your market looks: CW magazine, BlueWater Sailor, Latitude 38, Soundings, and online at Boats.com and others. We spent about $80 on advertising and realized the full asking price of our boat. BTW CW line ads are pretty cheap ...

One other thing, if you decide to use a broker, be SURE to find one that SPECIALIZES in or at least has a lot of experience, with your genre of boat. When we were looking we came across several listings at smaller, local brokerages where mostly they were selling powerboats or cats or something, and then there was a listing for a cruiser and often they were WOEFULLY inadequate and bad listings. For example, a lovely Sparkman & Stephens cruiser made in Italy. The broker had MIS-SPELLED the make/model of the boat, and had not said anything at all about it being a S&S design. How many more calls would they have gotten if it had been properly marketed ? We didn't buy it but I am sure it went for far less than it could have if the broker had placed a better listing, taken the time to research the boat, or known a little more about it.

From Erik Hammarlund on Cruising World message board:
Just sold mine, and I used a broker. The broker will help you set the value of the boat. That's their job, and part of what you pay them for. Of course, in today's market the value will be less than what you probably think it is. Surveyors on the other hand don't constantly monitor the market. Also, they usually aim high (as per the owner's hope, to make the boat more insurable). You can always guess but it may never sell.

There's not necessarily that much to be lost by going solo IF you meet the following criteria:

- You live near the boat (you have to show it, sometimes on short notice).

- You can keep the boat in a nice place (it has to look good).

- You've got money to blow on ads until it sells.

- You're good at estimating the value.

- You have connections/friends/etc who will steer you potential buyers.

- You have time to write a good ad and modify it as necessary.

- You have time to show a potential buyer the boat, knowing they're not interested but hoping they will be later.

- You have time to show a potential buyer the boat without knowing whether or not they're interested (and to do so politely).

- You don't get disappointed easily.

- All of the above commitments can be met all the time, even when its inconvenient, you're sick, etc etc etc.

I went with a broker and it was worth it. ...

From "The Dollars and Sense of Sailboat Ownership" by Jeff Spranger (on Amazon):
Make a reasonable effort to sell it yourself; advertise in local newspapers, marinas, etc. If it doesn't sell, engage a broker, but keep trying to sell it yourself (being careful to avoid buyers who contacted the broker first).

From Paul Blais on Cruisers Forum:
Boat brokers are like realtors. You'll find most of the boats are sold by a small percentage of brokers. With realtors that number is 10% of the realtors sell 90% of the properties. It's one of those professions where you may not work all that hard and sell just a few a year. Folks that work hard sell more. I want a broker that works hard.

As with realtors you'll generally find the people that sell the most work real hard and treat people right. Referrals are pretty hard to beat. Talk with people that have bought or sold boats with brokers in your area and you should be able to separate out the good from the bad. You also want a broker that will treat your buyer right too. You would not buy a boat from a slim ball so don't hire one to sell your boat.

Meet them, talk to them. Don't hire anyone you don't feel comfortable with. Ask them what they know about boats. You should interview them like you would any other professional you might hire. There are enough of them certainly on the Chesapeake that you don't have to settle for anyone you don't like. There are great ones all over the bay.

Read all contracts and clarify how long you are giving them to sell the boat before you can consider dumping them. Ask what happens if you sell the boat. Ask what they will do to advertise your boat and how will they handle prospective buyers.

You can make a list of a lot of questions. A good broker should answer them all and help you set a realistic price expectation. They ought to work hard to help put a deal together that sells your boat and gets you a fair price.







Advertising

The web page listing the boat should have:

Put for-sale signs on the boat. Make sure they're visible from the dock.



From Ernesto on BoaterEd:
I was successful selling the boat promptly and at a fair price. While 75% of that was probably just pure LUCK, I did work hard to get the boat sold, and in this market it probably wouldn't have sold otherwise. Here is how I went about selling the boat, this is just one person's experience but I hope it helps! By no means am I presenting myself as an "expert" as I've only sold one boat in my life. For what it's worth:

1. WORK at advertising the boat, and be willing to spend some money in doing it, but spend it smartly. Think about the fact that you'll save the 10% commission from a broker. In my case I budgeted $2k for advertising and went through almost all of it. You may also try to advertise it exclusively in free sites like BoaterEd.com and Craigslist for a month before you spend any money for other ads.

2. This one is common sense ... but ... Have the boat in excellent/pristine condition, I actually invested money fixing a few things before going on the market. Not big things but cosmetic issues that could have given a buyer pause. If you're marketing the boat as 'pristine', 'like new', 'cream puff' or 'in excellent shape', then big hairline cracks, burnt isinglass, worn carpet and other cosmetic things aren't very expensive to fix and will not distract buyers. I spent about $1.5k fixing some things to make sure the boat looked like new. It's impossible to know if I got any of that money back, but I'm convinced that it helped with the sale.

3. Do a GREAT write-up! Make sure to point out everything that was special, unique about the boat, any upgrades, and write a good advertisement for it, making sure you are doing your best to present your boat as unique in this tough market. There're many boats out there, what is it that makes yours unique? This is an easy one to get an advantage on, competing against boats represented by brokers who know NOTHING about them. I even advertised the fact that all the service items had already been done so the boat was truly ready to go. This included paying the marina $700 to pull and service the outdrives, I also serviced everything on the genset (anode, impeller, oil/filter, spark plugs etc) ... Also, make a point of any FREE items that you are going to be including with the sale (in my case I even advertised the full tank of gas). Fenders, lines, flares, etc., all these things can add up and if you are including them make sure the prospective buyer knows. Make a point of any sweat equity you've put into the boat!

4. Detail the heck out of the boat. Seriously, grab some Q-tips for the hard to reach places, and spend a weekend making the boat look like new. If you can't wash it or wax it, rub or spray it with WD-40 or CRC for a great shine (don't forget to detail the engine room, many people judge a boat's condition mainly on the engine room's condition). Oh, and clean out your stuff before you take the pictures. Clutter really detracts. We left only the decorations that really improved the appearance of the boat ... This was not hard for us as we always keep the boat very organized.

5. PICTURE PICTURES PICTURES, take the BEST possible pictures you can take right after you've detailed the boat! The more pictures the better, highlighting the boat's better features. If there's a nice detail (grab handle, upholstery logo, woodwork joint, etc) that you love about the boat, make sure to take a picture of it. In the boat I sold, the bow rail lights were unique, so not only did I mention them, I waited until nighttime and took a pictured that captured the effect. If you've recently upgraded something, before-and-after pictures may help to convey the significance of the improvement. Include at least one good running shot of the boat, peole like to see the boat in action. In my listing I had two good running shots, one at displacement speed and one on plane.

6. Host your MAIN ad in a place like BoaterEd, with ALL OF the information on the boat and tons of pictures, with an answer for ANYTHING that you could think anyone may ask you, so that anyone who responds to one of your ads with questions or asking for more pictures, you can just direct to this ad. The ad here is free and without a limit on the number or words or photos! You can still see my ad here, hopefully you'll note the effort put into photographing the boat in a very attractive manner, and all the features highlighted in the process (teak platform, rail lights, screen door, etc.): http://www.boatered.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=107492

You'll get a lot of inquiries, so it's a lot easier directing someone to a thorough listing like this than to be addressing individual questions from a bunch of people all the time.

7. Keep your Craigslist ads active, it's a pain but you need to do it. "Some people" who don't really follow the rules would suggest that you write different ads so you can put them in different markets, but of course I "cannot" advice that you do so. I just bought my new Tiara through Craigslist, and one of the Cruisers my friend sold was sold through Craigslist. Yes, it will increase your spam, but it's also a viable selling tool. My Craigslist ads were very brief, with a link to my very thorough Boatered.com ad. I've also known people that sell boats through Ebay, though I've never tried it.

8. Then, pay to advertise your boat in a couple of places like boats.com, iboats.com, usedboats.com and boattraderonline.com. Do spend the money to 'feature' your ad in those places, particularly in iboats.com where the 'featured ad' option is a one-time expense instead of a monthly upgrade. Based on how it went for me (amount of hits on my ad in each place), I'd only do iboats.com and boats.com if I had to do it again. Because my boat was a Canadian boat popular up there, I also bought some ads in some Canadian classifieds, so make sure to know if there's a particular market for your boat that you can explore.

9. Really very important: remember your boat is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it, and your boat's probably worth a little less than you think! :-( I started advertising at over 10% of my "rock bottom price". This was a mistake. I got few hits in the first month. It won't matter how clean it is if it's priced so high that people won't even bother to come see it. I changed my asking price to just $3k over what I thought was my "bottom", and the hits/requests for info started flowing consistently. So I'd say, advertise just a bit above what you are willing to sell. Buyers will come to you, fall in love with the boat, before they realize that you're not willing to come as far down as they thought. I actually turned down two offers, and then the person who had made the first offer called me and we worked a deal right there on the phone, for about 2-3% less than my original "rock bottom price". He basically asked me what it would take to get the deal done right there. They loved the boat, their kids liked it too, and they didn't want to lose it. Notice I was willing to turn some offers down, but ONLY because at that point I would have rather kept the boat, as I owed more than I was offered and I wanted to get at least a bit of cash out of the sale. In this market, if you turn down an offer, do it only after you consider the real possibility that you may end up keeping the boat.

10. Do all the research to know exactly how the THREE blue books price your boat. Keep in mind blue books are all over the place. You can get NADA and BUC online (the latter is tricky to get but can be done). For ABOS, try to find a connection with a dealer who's willing to give you the ABOS printout. In my case, I sold for about exactly NADA price including all the options (NADA w/o options was scary!), or just below ABOS price. Also get acquainted with every single similar model boat up for sale in the major web sites within a couple years of yours. Look at their asking prices, and be competitive with them. Look for things that make your boat better than the others. In most cases when someone told me "I'm also looking at one in so-so place" I already knew which boat he/she was talking about. I had a long write-up that I sent people in price negotiations, detailing blue book values (my interpretation as seller, very different from what my interpretation would be as buyer) for the boat, and how it compared with similar boats on the market in a price/features/condition perspective.

11. When you get your showing, be prompt, don't be in a hurry, answer all questions honestly and have that boat sparkling clean! Show your pride in ownership and be willing to let the prospective buyer look everywhere in the boat and take his time. My wife and I were scrubbing the cockpit of our shrink-wrapped boat in 10 degree weather in late December, for our first showing, since people who had wrapped the boat had stepped all over the seats and cockpit and made a mess. We made sure to be there early for the showing to connect the boat and charge the batteries.

12. Be truthful and honest. This may be controversial as some people may be afraid to lose a sale, but my very honest behaviour and willingness to be forthcoming with information helped me build a lot of trust with the person who bought our boat. In fact, without being asked, I told them about cosmetic hairline cracks around the swim platform that he had no way of discovering before closing considering the way that the boat was wrapped. I'd rather have him buy the boat with all the information than to have arguments and misunderstandings a couple of months later upon unwrapping.

The trust built made contract negotiations and the closing process a lot easier. For example, the buyer trusted me to "escrow" some money until sea trial a few months later, instead of getting a third party involved. That is actually worth some actual interest money right there. There's just no way to overstate what building a trusting relationship with a potential buyer is worth. This buyer actually told me that he'd rather wait until April or May to buy a boat (instead of January in MN), but that he didn't want to miss out on a chance to buy a boat from an "owner like me".

I think many people do a lot of these things, but I've seen many that just don't do a great job with their write-ups or pictures. In a tough market, this is what can distinguish your boat from all the others out there. A lot of buyers aren't knowledgeable enough to recognize two boats are really the same, the only difference being that one is just much better staged and photographed.

In my case, my buyer found it right here on BoaterEd. Most credible buyers otherwise came through iboats.com, for some reason. My BoaterEd.com thread got quite a few thousand hits, I'm assuming a lot of them coming through links from some of my other ads.

Of course, some people attribute my sale to the fact that in the listing there was a picture of my wife on the bow with a bikini ... I refuse to believe it's that simple ... But hey, it can't hurt.

Good luck with your sale! That's probably what it really comes down to!



Places to advertise:
American Boat Listing (boats for sale by owners; ??? for $190)
BoatsFSBO.com
Boatsville ($5/month for basic)
BoatTrader (free for simple ad)
Boat-World.com
BoatU.S. classified ads
craigslist
By-The-Sea.com (no fee)
Florida mariner, 800-388-9307 (40 words and a picture for 2 issues for $32)
SailboatOwners.com classifieds
SailNet's BoatSearch (free)
Southwinds magazine, 877-372-7245 (40 words for 1 month print and web for $15)
UsedBoats.com ($40 ad fee)



From Captain Fergus on World-Cruising mailing list:
I used UsedBoats.com. There was a nominal fee but it covered the ads until the boat was sold. I had hundreds of enquiries from all over the world.

From Nancy B. on World-Cruising mailing list:
I sold our boat on escapeartist.com. They list all kinds of commercial and personal craft and it's free, with lots of photos. Easy to use and it worked for some other cruisers I told about it.

Also, don't forget craigslist.com for your city ...

From Sonny Mannuccia on World-Cruising mailing list:
We used (ABL) American Boat Listing and was a waste of money; good sales pitch. Try putting it on all the free web sites, google it and you'll find a list. Sold my 1973 P-36 on Sailnet.







Showing the boat

From BillT on Cruising World message board:
Further hints on selling a boat. ...

There are a number of clichés in the industry and they all apply. For example, a gallon of paint in the can is only worth about $25, but applied $1,000. Keep the decks clean and the interior spotless. The prospective buyer should likewise see a boat ready to move on to.

Unfortunately there are a number of salespeople in the business, who will take a listing at a price suggested by the seller, just to get the listing. When you accept the seller's price, the seller gets the mistaken idea that the salesperson agrees with them on the asking price. ... It sits and sits and it may never sell. A total waste of time for everybody, the seller, salesperson, prospective buyers. It would have been much better not to list the boat in the first place. If it is overpriced the other salespeople in the office will know and won't show the boat. The Brokerages know it is over priced and won't show the boat. The seller thinks the salesperson hasn't tried hard enough to sell the boat and therefore another angry seller bad-mouthing the industry. The seller certainly has every right to be upset! To start with the salesperson let the seller down by not showing him/her what had to be done to sell the boat. By not producing a comparison market analysis which would have shown the seller what he/she should be asking for the boat.

... It is a fact there are people who pass themselves off as salespeople who figure an ad in the paper and a sign on the boat is enough. May I suggest if you decide to sell your boat be sure to interview the salesperson, ask questions, ask for references. See if they have any written testimonials. The salesperson should be selling you a complete service of what he/she is going to do to sell your boat. If you are buying a boat ask the salesperson if he/she has personally inspected the boat.

When showing a boat to a potential buyer:







Closing the deal

Sail-World's "Boat buying scams and the Red Flags to watch for"







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