Seven Tips to Help You Sell Your Boat

Experienced yacht brokers share their top tips for selling a used boat in today's marketplace.
View of moored boat on lake for sale, Toronto, Canada
Selling a used boat can be a full-time job. Hiring a certified yacht broker makes the entire selling process a lot easier and less stressful. bruno135_406/

Has the time come to sell your boat? In today’s market, it takes a heck of lot more than simply hanging a “For Sale” sign from the lifelines and waiting for the phone to ring. To learn a few tricks of the trade, we polled some of the top certified yacht brokers at houses from coast to coast around the US. Here’s some free advice that the pros regularly give to clients who are seriously looking to sell.

1. Scour the boat

Clean everything—bilge, sole, upholstery, cabinets, lockers, the shore-power cord, and under the sink in the head. Everything. If your boat is spotless, the buyer will think you’re detail oriented and that all the systems have been well maintained. If the boat is a mess, a prospective buyer might think you also neglected to change the oil in the engine. Remember the last time you went to a boat show? It’s time to make your boat show-ready, even if it’s not in a show.

2. De-clutter

Your personal items on the boat may mean a lot to you, but they only make your boat look smaller and cluttered to a buyer. Empty all hanging lockers, drawers and cabinets. It may seem unnecessary to you, but a buyer will glance at a hanging locker full of foul-weather gear and think: Where am I going to put my foul-weather gear?


3. The Comfort Factor

It’s a thing for a buyer, especially for a couple or a family. Make sure all of your cushions are in place, and periodically open all of the ports and hatches to get some air in there. It’s got to feel and smell fresh belowdecks. Remember, you only get one shot at making a first impression, and musty accommodations aren’t the impression you want to make.

4. Make It Internet-Friendly

A strong internet presentation is critical, so make sure your boat is as enticing as possible to those online shoppers. You should provide a complete history of the boat and its upgrades; a detailed inventory of everything, including sails, electronics, and major systems; and photos that allow internet tire kickers/prospective buyers to enjoy a photographic walkthrough of the entire boat. Most brokerage houses today will handle the technical side of this for you and advertise it to their digital audience, which is where most boat shoppers start their search.

5. Spend Wisely

It’s a good idea to get the boat surveyed so you can learn about and fix any potential problems before the boat goes on the market. If the bottom or the topsides need a paint job, do it. If you’re painting the hull, use only white or dark-blue paint. However, one broker recommended not spending money on electronics upgrades. You’ll only get a small part of that investment back, if any at all.


6. Price It Right

If you want to sell your boat in this market, you’ve got to get in, get aggressive, and get out. That means you may have to price it below the lowest priced comparable boat on the market (by at least five percent)—yes, even if you know that your boat has better equipment, fewer engine hours, and the like. A quick sale means less pain. And remember, once you’re no longer the seller, you can take advantage of the same situation as a buyer if you’re considering another boat.

7. Close The Deal

Selling a used boat can be a full-time job. If you plan to do it yourself, be prepared for appointment no-shows and comments such as “It’s exactly what I want, but maybe next year” or “It’s exactly what I want, but I’d offer half the price.” When talking to prospective buyers, listen equally to both the husband and the wife, and always respond to their questions honestly. If you’re not up to the challenge, and face it, most of us are not, hiring a certified yacht broker makes the entire selling process a lot easier and less stressful—letting you focus on the fun things, like shopping for that next perfect boat.