Important Steps and Pointers for Selling Your Boat

May 28, 2014 | Bluewater Perspective, Magazine, News | 0 comments

As the adage goes, “the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it.” Although it may seem simple to swab the deck and stick a ‘For Sale’ sign on the bow, in reality there are many steps to ensuring you can make a sale in a timely fashion for the price you desire. Here’s how to prepare for what will hopefully be one of your “happiest days”.


Price it Right

The number one key to selling a boat quickly is to price it right. An overestimated valuation will virtually guarantee your listing will languish on the market for a lengthy period. In order to reach a fair asking price that will grab a potential buyer’s interest, you have to think like a buyer. Search for comparable boats through as many online resources as possible and avoid comparing boats with more features than yours, as that will lead to overpricing. Contact the brokers or sellers of comparable vessels to ask how long their boat has been for sale. This could provide an indicator of whether or not their boat is priced competitively. Ultimately, you have to take your emotions out of the process if you want to sell your boat quickly.


You need to get your listing in front of as many qualified buyers as possible. At first you may not see the value in contracting a listing agent, but after a couple of weekends dealing with “tire kickers” and no-shows -or worse yet, not receiving any leads at all- you might rapidly change your tune. A sales professional can quickly and accurately assess your boat’s fair market value through research and first-hand knowledge. You may ask them for a marketing plan tailored for your boat that includes MLS listings along with print advertising and digital promotions. In addition, ask them to prepare a comparative market analysis for you and ask each for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask how they handle closings, escrow funds or negotiate potential trade-ins. Your comfort and confidence throughout the entire transaction is important, and a little footwork in the beginning will pay off big in the end. When choosing a professional, they should be familiar with the type of vessel you are selling and also exude a sense of ambition and passion for working with you. A true professional will help steer you through the entire process from listing to closing, all in a courteous manner.

San Juan Pilings

Bad Photo:

San Juan 48 Hidden by Dock Pilings


Good Photo:

San Juan 48 on Open Water

Prep, Prep, Prep

First impressions are everything. Before photographing or showing the boat, thoroughly clean her inside and out. Check every compartment for dirt or grime that might offend a buyer. If there is anything not working or that needs attention, take care of it! You may also consider hiring a marine technician or surveyor to do an inspection and make certain everything is ship-shape. When you feel you have completely cleaned and staged your boat for a successful sale, make certain you reenter the buyer state of mind. Tour the boat as if you were preparing to put an offer on her, and if something does not pass your scrutiny test, correct it.

Shutter, Click.

Keep in mind the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This has never been more true than in today’s high paced, short attention span marketplace. When photographing the exterior, it is ideal to have the boat in open water, not at the dock. Pilings, other boats and even buildings in the background can easily obscure your vessel’s profile. Within the interior, it is often advisable to use a wide angle lens, as it will help in making the more confined spaces of your boat seem larger. Clean surfaces and counters always help make an area appear more spacious and inviting, if there are any items or clutter you were unable to remove during your cleaning and detailing of the interior, be certain these are stowed during your photography session. These tips may seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how many sellers break some, or all, of these cardinal principles.

A Quick Guide to Turn-Key Preperation

Exterior: Curb Appeal

  • Detail the exterior, all surfaces must be clean and shiny
  • Brighten any teak with a fresh coat of varnish or Cetol
  • Clean all windows, port lights and hatches both inside and out, caulk if necessary
  • Ensure enclosures and canvas are in good condition
  • Clean dirty shore power cords
  • If the vessel is out of the water, ensure it has fresh bottom paint, new zincs and available power – buyers can’t view your boat if there is no functioning lighting.
  • For winter showings, consider keeping the boat in the water and out of the snow. Sales opportunities can be lost if your boat is iced in or blocked by other boats in storage.

Bad Photo:

The Cluttered Interior of a Pearson Sailboat

Full Bean Engine Room

Good Photo:

Engine Room of 25 Year Old Viking Still Sparkles

Interior: Clear the Clutter

  • Always empty garbage
  • Add air fresheners to rooms, lockers, drawers and bilge
  • Clean out all appliances and cabinets
  • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas
  • Ensure all light fixtures operate
  • Clean and clear all surfaces, floors, counter tops and lockers
  • Remove or replace worn rugs and carpets
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors
  • Pump out the holding tank and shower sump
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks
  • Hang fresh towels
  • Replace worn out bedding and pillows, or use coverlets

Mechanical: Easy Fixes

  • Fix any leaks, inspect and tighten hose clamps
  • Clean the bilge until it is spotless and free of both mold and oil
  • Check fuel/water separators – these are one of the first items visitors see in the engine room
  • Ensure all electrical connections are intact
  • Ensure all gauges and alarms function
  • Prepare all oil and filter change records