5 Tips for Selling a Motor Yacht or Sailboat
1. We Buy with Our Eyes!
While it may sound obvious it is important to make your boat look as good as possible. You already know that we only get one chance at a first impression so you should d everything reasonable to have it “standing tall” before you go to market.
- Remove personal effects, extra boating gear and spare parts unless you can organize and stow properly below deck with tidy and labeled boxes
- Declutter closets, hanging lockers, drawers. Storage looks bigger when it is not filled
- Empty the lazarette, engine room, under seat stowage areas
After removing all the gear and personal items, the next step is proper detailing. If you want to get top dollar bring the exterior gelcoat and painted surfaces up to par. For some this may already look appropriate. For most it will at minimum require a polish and other a 2,3, or 4-step process. Like most things in life, you will get what you pay for. Ask your broker and your neighbors for recommendations and when in doubt, pay more! Often times when detailing people get too hung up on what they are paying instead of what the are getting. More people wash their boats more than they service it so if a boat doesn’t look great you can assume it doesn’t run great either. Spend more and get more.
- Detail, detail and detail. Hire the best detailers for thorough deep-cleaning
- Polish all brightwork, remove all window spots or streaking(wax if needed)
- Clean or replace shore cords, dock lines, fenders
- Eliminate any odors / source
- Descale engine room and clean bilges
- Shampoo carpets, oil cabinets
2. Service and Repair
Good quality service centers or technicians are hard to find. Asking your broker or neighbors is imperative to get the right company for the job. This is a referral based industry and finding people that do the proper work and stand behind the job is critical. It will also save you a lot of frustration if the job gets done right the first time. While having every last item working is not imperative to selling your boat it sure helps! The problems will be found out during inspections anyway so taking care of the issues in advance just speeds up the closing process.
- Engine(s) must operate at proper RPM and temperature, hoses, belts, zincs, active leaks
- Gauges and electronics must all operate properly
- All safety related items must be addressed such as thru-hull sea cocks and fire extinguishing equipment, bilge pumps, navigation lights
An oil service may be considered inappropriate. If you are due for an oil change and are going to continue using the boat then by all means service it. Fresh oil doesn’t allow for an oil analysis though
and may disrupt a sale if a buyer or broker considers that an issue is being hidden. Additionally, a seller should be cautious about painting in the engine room. Properly done rust abatement is just maintenance but if painting is done prior to sale it could be masking a problem or leaks.
Sometimes it isn’t practical to repair or replace or remove broken equipment prior to sale. If that is the case you should disclose up front with your broker, or any potential buyers, at least before you agree on a selling price.
3. Location, Location, Location!
We’ve all heard that location is the single most important thing to look for when purchasing a home. Have you thought that it may be an important element when selling a boat?
Today all prominent dealerships and brokerages have offices in the same complex / marina much like the auto malls where buyers have the advantage of being able to shop a number of options within close proximity. It makes sense to make it as easy for a buyer. For a seller your boat will get much more attention if it is on a known “sales dock” rather than just sitting in a slip like everyone else’s boat. Additionally, your boat will more get shown more often if it is on a sales dock as the brokers of the marina typically work together.
Having your boat represented at a boat show should also be a consideration. Any boat show can produce a buyer that may not have been considering a boat such as yours but simply got aboard because of the ease of seeing it. They may not have called or walked in to a broker’s office to see your boat yet getting aboard was all it took to fall in love!
4. Experience Counts
Of course, great photography, detailed listings, good web presence, and professional videos are all important and can’t be over looked. They are all expected in marketing and will be done to some degree by all brokers.
Most brokers will keep a working database of owners and prospective buyers to introduce your boat to as well. And since this a referral dependent business the best asset your broker can have is experience. Top broker’s clients appreciate them and are the brokers best source of business. Having a broker who is familiar with the overall market, your specific boat, and your boats’ competition is crucial. Likewise, the relationship your broker has with other brokers is imperative. Having a solid broker, who has done hundreds, if not thousands of deals, will make your sale go smoother. A broker who has worked with hundreds, if not thousands of other brokers will help your boat sell faster. Do you want one broker working for your boat sale or an army?
5. Price it Right
Is it smarter to justify a higher than average asking price or make excuses for a tired boat? I’m not suggesting over-pricing your boat, yet I would reason that the vast majority of buyers would rather pay much more for a nice boat than a boat in need of servicing and detailing. Trying to bring a boat back to its former glory is time consuming and expensive. Providing that your boat is “standing tall” you can justify put a proud price on it. If it isn’t as nice as the competition it will cost much more than the money it will take to “bring it around”. Nice boats bring market appropriate numbers and rougher boats are hard to sell and the sale number will reflect that.