How Do I Sell My Boat Quickly?

There’s no doubt that when it’s time to sell your boat the best way to do it is quickly. Over my 30+ years experience I have seen boat sellers and brokers commit the same mistakes over and over again. The bottom line is that their boats sit on the marketplace for 6 months getting dirty, deteriorating mechanically, costing the owners a fortune and most importantly becoming stagnant. The end result is that stagnant boats, ones that are on the market more than 60 days, sell for less!

Over the years I have made almost every mistake there is in boat sales. Learn from my experience. The following are some key points on how to sell your boat quickly. Some are obvious, some are painful. However if you do what I suggest you will sell your boat faster and for more dollars than other comparable boat on the market. You ask “this is too obvious why doesn’t everyone do it?” They don’t. Be thankful. It’s your opportunity.

  1. Price it right. Price it right. Price it right.
    • Go on line and check all of the internet sites. Yachtworld, BoatTrader, etc. etc. Print a copy of all the comparable boats to yours. Note the total number. Note any key features others boats have or don’t have. Also look at other boats engine hours, does it have a trailer, bottom paint, etc., etc. This is all very important. You need to compare apples to apples. (Example – bottom painted trailerable boats sell for less.) Note the locations where the boats are listed. (Example – Florida boats sell for less – heat, sun, wind, salt and year round use.)
    • Call a few brokers that have boats that are comparable to yours. Tell them who you are and what you have. Most brokers should be very cooperative. Ask them why the boat they have listed hasn’t sold. Ask them what they think it would take to sell their boat. Ask them what they think your boat is worth. Ask them if they were going to trade it what they would give you for it.
    • Check the pricing guides BUC and NADA, but don’t put much faith in what they say. Most of these, in my opinion, are totally inaccurate but they are what the banks base your boats loan value on. So although inaccurate they are still something to consider.
    • Now sit down. Look at all the data you’ve collected. Calculate what it truly costs to hold on to your boat for a few more months. Be honest with yourself! (Note: what you owe on your boat has nothing to do with its retail value.) Don’t worry about putting “wiggle room” in your number. You won’t have to worry about “room to negotiate” if nobody calls. Now price your boat to be the next one to sell. I know it’s painful but I don’t remember any seller ever telling me “wow, I sold my boat to cheap!”
  2. Prepare you boat to sell quickly.
    • Because you priced your boat aggressively a lot of buyers are going to come looking. Positive first impressions are vital. This may seem obvious but then how come most boats for sale are not properly prepared to sell? I can’t believe how many sellers have dirty, smelly boats that are mechanically wanting on the market. What a waste of time! Make sure your boat is waxed, clean and shiny. Carpets, engine, cushions, everything. If you don’t have the time to hire a detailing company. There is no doubt that this will be the best money you ever spent.
    • Make sure everything works properly. No jury rigged systems. Make sure the boat runs well. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen sellers get to the goal line and fumble with a boat that just wouldn’t run right. Some people just won’t listen.) Make sure your boat doesn’t smell. Clean the bilge. Pump out the holding tank. Don’t use some artificial fragrance to mask the smell. It won’t work. Worse case use and ozoneator. (Call me for details.)
    • Get your personal junk off the boat. Everything. If you don’t plan to sell it with the boat remove it. Cluttered boats don’t show well.
    • Consider having your boat and engines surveyed. Make this survey available to serious buyers upon request. A survey will not only point out the items that need to be corrected but also will help a potential buyer decide on whether your boat is worth making an offer on. The internet is a powerful tool. Internet buyers can’t touch, feel or see your boat. A professional survey conducted by a SAMS or NAMBS surveyor will add credibility to your listing and separate you from the pack.
  3. Exposure
    • Place your boat where the most potential buyers can see it and get easy access. Don’t leave it in your backyard or marina where you can use it on a nice sunny weekend day. That’s when the buyers are out too and guess what? They won’t be able to see your boat because it’s out on the water.
    • Trailerable boats – Highway frontage. Place your boat where 1000’s of cars go buy it a day. You can’t get better advertising.
    • Yachts – move the boat to the brokers or dealers office. This makes it easy for the sales people to show your boat. (Make sure their location is not on some remote “backwater” where you need a GPS to find it!)
  4. Pick an aggressive dealer or broker that’s going to work for you.
    • Why? Because selling your own boat is a full time job. A job you don’t want unless you have to. Do you really want to arrange the advertising, handle all of the showings and sea trials and deal with the negotiations? Do you have the time and connections to handle the financing, surveys, repairs, insurance and eventual settlement? Do you want to take a trade? Take my word for it; you don’t want to deal with all of this! Spend your time where it’s more affective. Your own job and family.
    • Now some tips on picking the right sales organization:
      • Check with your boating buddies. See what they think about the different local dealers and their experiences. You can also check out some of the boating forums such as HullTruth and Tidalfish to view what other boaters have experienced with local dealers and brokers.
      • Make sure you get the right salesperson in the organization. You want one who is hungry and experienced. Try to figure this out before you call. (Getting stuck with a “dud” can be a catastrophe!) Again ask your friends about their experiences.
      • Make sure their location will give your boat plenty of exposure. A highway site or active marina is best.
      • Ask them about their affiliation and experience with the big used boat internet sites such as Yachtworld, and Boattrader. All of these are potentially good websites to list your boat.
      • Check out their print advertising. Although not as effective as it used to be its still part of the package.
      • Ask them to do the pricing research. Even if you have already done it. Make sure they tell you what they can sell your boat for quickly, not just the number you’d like to hear. Ask them how they came up with this appraisal number. Remember a boat priced wrong is a waste of your time and money!
      • Make sure your dealer/broker can and will take trades. Most potential buyers have a boat to get rid of. If your dealer won’t accept a trade on your boat your selling options will be severely limited.
      • Make sure that your boat is “special” to them. If your just one of 100+ other listings with one of the “mega” dealers your boat will get lost in the pile.
      • Make sure the dealer will prepare a quality listing. Look at his current listings online. Make sure they use plenty of pictures and an accurate and appealing description.
      • Ask them if they have experience with overseas sales. Right now unfortunately, the dollar is at an all time low. Due to our weak dollar foreigners are snatching up boats in the US because they are a relative bargain.
      • Consider bonusing the individual salesperson who sells your boat.
      • Consider giving the dealer an aggressive net to work from. The more potential income the hungrier they’ll be.
  5. Sell it yourself
    • Not your best choice, but if your boat is older or needs a little love you may have to do it yourself. Brokers and dealers typically can’t be bothered with low dollar boats. Not enough commission. Try placing your boat on EBay or Craig’s list. I have had great luck with these sites. The key to success on these sites is to describe your boat honestly, use plenty of pictures, and communicate promptly. If using EBay, set the reserve, as low as you can stand. Another idea, find a place to stick it on the side of the road in a well traveled spot. You’ll be surprised as to how many calls you’ll get.
  6. Wholesale
    • Not always the best option, but an option. Sometimes it’s just better to “punt”, whether you’re getting out of boating or trading up. Don’t expect retail but, you might be surprised how much you get and how fast you get it. This option might seem the most painful but if you add up all the costs of holding on to your boat for 6 months + (average recent sales duration for brokered boats) the wholesale figure might seem like a bargain!

The Easy Way

If you don’t want to be bothered with all of this, just call us. We’ll do it all for you. – 410-643-9966

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