How to Sell a Boat

How to Sell a Boat

by Sam Owens on November 7, 2017

Your family is growing and its time to upsize, or any one of a hundred other reasons to sell your boat. Take a step back in time remembering what attracted your attention that boat. My first guess is cleanliness, second is equipment and third is price. Let's start with the shine factor.


It’s time to pull out the cleaning supplies and make the interior and exterior look as close to new as possible. A weekend of work will be rewarded with more views, a higher price and a quicker sale. Make sure you open every hatch and storage location as buyers will check these areas and be turned off if they see a chain locker full of dirt. Mildew is challenging on a boat, don’t forget about hard to reach areas that hold dampness. By the way, unload all the extra stuff you are storing aboard. If you don’t have the energy or time to complete this cleaning process I’d suggest hiring a Detailing company. Most Marinas and Dealerships have a few they will recommend. Pricing varies based on size but you should regain most of this expense in the form of a higher final sales price.


Repairs and maintenance are next. Any broken equipment, switch, light etc will make the buyer wonder what else may have been neglected. Don’t forget dings on the hull and prop, as it’s the little things buyers will question. Make sure you provide copies of yearly servicing such as oil, batteries, belts, filters etc. These help put to rest any concerns from buyers. You are selling a used boat and buyers understand that but make sure you put your best foot forward. First impressions are everything!


Now you’re ready to market the boat, but what route do you choose, Broker or FSBO(For Sale By Owner)? You will need to ask yourself some basic questions when making this choice. Are you comfortable negotiating with others?  Everyone has limits so answer this question honestly. Do you have access to your competition? Knowing the price, location and equipment of other similar boats give you a big advantage in pricing. Would a Broker be interested in listing your boat? They charge a commission and typically look at a minimum price point. Do you owe more than you can get in a sales price? Saving the commission could make the difference of coming out of pocket. These answers will help drive your decision.


Photos are next, one of my pet peeves. Snoop around online at boat sites and I guarantee you will find boat pictures showing the canvas cover on them. What are the Sellers thinking…doesn’t my cover look great! You think…what are they hiding, and we're talking the feature picture, not one of the three they uploaded.  Remember what I said about putting your best foot forward. I’m guessing you have some favorite photos of your boating adventures. Why not use that picture as the feature photo. You're not just selling a boat but the adventure it will provide the buyer. Take a look at our Boatdipity site and my blog on How to photograph your boat. We have some great suggestion on this topic.


So now you have your boat looking so good you considering keeping it. That’s when you know its ready to market! Hopefully your efforts and research end with a happy buyer that continues to create new adventures on the water. Don’t forget to check out when it comes to selling your boat.