|How to sell
||Please send any comments to me.
This page updated: June 2014
Preparation and Location section
Broker or not ? 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"
- Move the boat to a place convenient for buyers and storage and repairs.
- Clean and repair the boat.
- Remove anything you don't want to sell with the boat.
- Inventory the boat and equipment.
- Choose a broker familiar with your type of boat, in your price range.
- Ask the broker exactly how the boat will be advertised.
- Draw up a contract you want to use.
- Charge $100 or more for a test-sail, to weed out freeloaders ?
(But not legal to charge in USA, unless you have a Captain's license.)
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
- If there are major blisters, doing a major blister-repair job may be
worthwhile. Many buyers will immediately reject boats with blisters.
- Repair of major delamination probably will be worthwhile.
- Replacement of dead engine probably will be worthwhile.
- Cosmetic work such as painting topsides may be worthwhile.
- Do not replace or add electronics, sails, sailhandling hardware.
- General cleanup and removing clutter is mandatory.
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.
From Bernie on Cruising World message board:
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.
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
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.
The web page listing the boat should have:
- Accurate year, model and price information (many don't).
- Lots of interior and exterior photo's.
- Lots of specifications: LOA, LWL, beam, draft,
displacement, ballast, SA/D ratio, D/L ratio,
deck material, standing headroom in cabin, keel type,
- Email and phone contact information.
- Be honest about what doesn't work.
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.):
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
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)
Boatsville ($5/month for basic)
BoatTrader (free for simple ad)
BoatU.S. classified ads
By-The-Sea.com (no fee)
Florida mariner, 800-388-9307 (40 words and a picture for 2 issues for $32)
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:
- Open all hatches and ports and interior doors 15 minutes ahead of time,
to cool off the boat and get rid of smells and moisture.
- Stay out of the buyer's way (in fact, get off the boat entirely), but be available to answer
questions or demonstrate items. Don't argue with the buyer.
Closing the deal
Sail-World's "Boat buying scams and the Red Flags to watch for"