Selling your boat isn’t easy, especially if you have never done it before.
However, today, I’m going to share with you the, tips, and tricks I’ve learned over the years as a former dealer and current marketer in the boating industry, so you can avoid the common stumbles and get your boat sold faster.
You might also want to read: Boat Price Trends for 2023-2024
- How Much Should I Sell My Boat For?
- When is the Best Time To Sell a Boat?
- Selling Your Boat Fast
- Using a Yacht Broker/Boat Broker
- How to Prepare Your Boat for Sale
- What Is The Best Way To Sell A Boat?
- The Best Place To Sell A Boat
- Which websites are free to sell boats?
- Selling Your Boat Online (Quick Reference Guide)
- How to Show Your Boat to Potential Buyers
- What Paperwork Is Needed To Sell My Boat?
- Navigating Negotiations
How Much Should I Sell My Boat For?
The first and likely most important question when selling a boat is: “How much can I sell my boat for?”.
Technically, there are two answers to this question, because:
- There is the price you want to start negotiations at (Your asking price)
- And the price you wish to end at (Your “Final” or “Last” price).
Both are important because, as we mentioned above, even if you are realistic about the value of your boat,
a high asking price could turn people off immediately by signaling that you’re not serious about selling your boat.
How To Price My Boat To Sell:
- The Best Method: Search for similar boats on Sportfishtrader and Boattrader, as well as Facebook Marketplace. Compare and contrast the boats you find against yours, and price your boat according to the best matches. (Dealer or Broker boats will typically be priced higher than private sellers)
- Check the NADA Boat Guide for an estimate of your boat’s value, but keep in mind that a book value does not always take into account the current market nor does it know the specific popularity of certain boats in your region.
- Take your boat to a local dealer or business that buys boats for cash and see what they offer. This number will definitely NOT be what the boat is worth (it will always be worth much more), but it gives you a great starting point to work up from as you perform step 1 of this section.
Tip: Keep seasonality in mind, as boats may sell for higher prices in the spring/summer and lower prices in the late fall or winter.
When is the Best Time To Sell a Boat?
The best time to sell a boat is typically between mid-winter and early summer, specifically from February to June. This is when demand increases as the boating season approaches, and potential buyers are looking to purchase boats for the spring and summer months.
- Boating Season: As the boating season approaches, potential buyers are looking to purchase boats for the spring and summer months. This increased demand can lead to quicker sales and potentially higher prices.
- Supply and Demand: During this time, some boat owners pull their listings off the market to use their boats during the boating season, which decreases the supply of boats on the market. With a lower supply and an increase in demand, buyers may feel pressure to purchase, resulting in a faster sale for listings available on the market.
- Off-Season Costs: Buyers prefer not to make their purchase before winter and then have to foot the bill for off-season storage costs. Therefore, sales tend to increase as the winter ends.
Selling Your Boat Fast
Most people reading this article are probably just asking, “How can I just sell my boat fast”. So, let’s get directly to discussing six easy ways you could use to get your boat sold quickly, even in a difficult market:
|Ensure your boat is in top condition.||Description|
|Sell to a dealer for cash||Likely, the fastest way to sell your used boat is to sell it to a dealer for cash. Businesses like webuyboats.com, sellusyourboat.net, and AmericanBoatBrokers.com specialize in buying boats directly from the owner for cash. This option obviously saves time and effort because you’re not dealing with the public; however, you are guaranteed not to get the full value for your boat because the dealer needs a margin to resell it for a profit.|
|Price your boat fairly.||A clean, well-maintained boat is more likely to sell quickly because it looks better in pictures and builds confidence in buyers that the boat was properly maintained. Invest time in preparing your boat for sale by cleaning it thoroughly, fixing any broken or malfunctioning equipment, and removing clutter.|
|Advertise on multiple platforms.||It can be easy to assume that how you value your boat personally is how the market does, but it doesn’t! Avoid overpricing your boat because not only do people filter online searches by price, but if your asking price is too high some people will believe you’re so unrealistic they won’t even call in the first place. It’s ok to have an asking price higher than your final price, but keep it within reason.|
|Clear any liens||Before selling your boat, make sure all liens are paid off. This will make the transaction process smoother and more appealing to potential buyers to know the boat is free and clear.|
|Be responsive and flexible.||Increase your boat’s visibility by advertising on various classified websites, local newspapers, and online forums. This will help you reach a wider audience and improve your chances of finding a buyer quickly. Yes, it will also attract less desirable offers, but with every up there is a down, right?|
|Be responsive and flexible||It can be easy to assume that how you value your boat personally is how the market does, but it doesn’t! Avoid overpricing your boat because not only do people filter online searches by price, but if your asking price is too high, some people will believe you’re so unrealistic they won’t even call in the first place. It’s ok to have an asking price higher than your final price, but keep it within reason.|
Make no mistake, if you need to sell fast, or if you need to sell it only for cash, you are going to lose out on a lot of value!
Using a Yacht Broker/Boat Broker
If what we have discussed about selling your boat so far is already overwhelming, you might want to consider using a broker.
Although legally, no one has to use a boat broker to sell any boat, a boat broker tends to become more appealing to those dealing with higher-ticket items where more can go wrong, and a lot of money can be lost.
More expensive boats also tend to have owners who value their time more than a commission, so if you fit into that category, it’s another reason to consider a broker.
All that being said, using a broker also can have some potential drawbacks (Just being honest), which we’ll briefly discuss below:
Benefits of Using a Broker
- Expertise: Yacht brokers are knowledgeable about the current market for your boat and can help you set a competitive price saving you hours of time researching yourself.
- Marketing: Brokers have access to marketing tools and broker/client networks that you simply cannot get into. This ensures your boat is advertised effectively to reach the right audience faster.
- Negotiations: Brokers are experienced negotiators working on your behalf to secure the best possible deal. you will not always see eye to eye, especially if they tell you it’s best to take less, but a good broker is there to help.
- Paperwork: The paperwork isn’t thick, but if it’s done incorrectly, it can cause major legal trouble down the road. Hiring a broker helps avoid these pitfalls and keeps you protected if the buyer changes their mind later or if something breaks on the boat after the sale.
- Legal: Bigger brokerages will have attorneys that will be there for you during and after the sale at no additional cost.
- Commission: Brokers usually charge a commission, typically a percentage of the sale price, which will cut into the money you get for your boat.
- Limited Control: When working with a broker, you may have less control over the selling process, as they take the lead on negotiations and marketing efforts.
- Hiring the wrong broker: Hiring a bad broker can and does happen: You could end up with a broker who pushes you to take less money so they can close the deal and get a quicker commission, or you could end up with a broker who doesn’t properly advertise your boat in which case it just ends up sitting. It is always best to ask a friend who has worked with a broker for a referral.
Ultimately, the decision to use a yacht broker or boat broker depends on your personal preferences, budget, and how much you value your time.
How to Prepare Your Boat for Sale
If you are not going to wholesale your boat to a dealer, then it’s time to start the sales process.
Properly preparing a boat for sale can significantly impact the time it takes to find a buyer as well as how much money you eventually get from that buyer.
Here’s how to get your boat ready for photos, videos, and showings with potential buyers:
- Clean your boat thoroughly: Wash every inch of your boat, inside and out. Clean hidden areas, like storage compartments, fish boxes, and especially bilge compartments! Clean things you never think to clean, like battery terminals, wiring, and scuffs on the nonskid (Magic erasers work great for that). How clean your boat looks is a reflection of how well you maintained it (In perception, anyway).
- Hire A Detailer: I know you don’t want to spend the money, but I can’t recommend enough that you hire a professional detailer to clean the boat. Detailers typically have experience cleaning boats for dealers and brokers, so they know EXACTLY how a boat should be presented for sale.
- Remove clutter: Eliminate any extra gear that might make the boat seem smaller or less organized. Items like life jackets and safety equipment can go with the sale, but just put that in the listing details and store them off the boat until it’s sold.
- Fix any broken or malfunctioning equipment: Ensure everything on your boat functions properly, especially the engines, to attract buyers willing to pay top dollar. No one cares about a radio unit because they might be replacing it anyway, but they don’t want to replace an outboard!
What Is The Best Way To Sell A Boat?
After spending five years selling smaller boats as a licensed dealer in Florida and another five years working for professional brokers who sell multi-million dollar vessels, the best way to sell a boat is by creating listings online and via social media.
Websites, forums, and social media are the only way I would advertise a boat in 2023 and beyond, and the reasons are simple:
- You don’t need to be an expert to create listings.
- Your listings and posts span the globe.
- The public can easily share your posts with family and friends.
- It’s relatively inexpensive to create ads online.
- You can even do everything from a Smartphone.
You might be interested in reading: “Why My Boat Isn’t Selling.”
The Best Place To Sell A Boat
When it comes to selling a boat, the internet provides a plethora of platforms that can help you reach a wide audience of potential buyers. Here are the top 10 websites that have proven to be effective for boat sellers:
|Boat Trader||A favorite among many boat sellers due to its wide reach and user-friendly interface.|
|boats.com||Known for having extensive boat listings, it’s a great place to list your boat and reach a global audience.|
|YachtWorld||Ideal for selling yachts and larger vessels. Note: You will need to list through a broker for exposure.|
|Craigslist||A popular choice for local listings, it can be a good option if you’re looking to sell your boat in your local community.|
|Boatcrazy||As the name suggests, this platform is all about boats and offers a dedicated audience of boat enthusiasts.|
|Boatexportusa.com||Specializes in exporting boats, making it a great choice if your target buyers are overseas.|
|Facebook Marketplace||With the vast user base of Facebook, listing your boat here can give it a lot of exposure.|
|iBoats||Offers a wide range of listings and is a popular choice among boat sellers.|
|SportfishTrader||If you’re selling a sportfishing boat, this platform could be the perfect fit.|
|eBay||Known for its auction-style listings, it can be a great place to sell your boat if you’re looking for a quick sale.|
Each of these websites offers various features and options for listing your boat for sale. Some may charge fees for listing your boat, while others offer free listings. It’s essential to research each platform to determine which one best suits your needs and budget. Happy selling!
Tip: Boats.com, BoatTrader, and Yacht World are all owned by the same entity, and they work closely with dealers and brokers. This means that your listings can easily be buried behind professionals with massive budgets who pay for the featured placements. (Yacht World is strictly for Boat Brokers).
How Much Is It To List My Boat on these wesbsites?
On average, websites such as Sportfishtrader or Boattrader charge the general public anywhere between $60 and $200 dollars for a listing. Listing prices on websites like Boattrader are calculated by run time and the number of photos you get where, as Sportfishtrader is a fixed price for a fixed run time.
Which websites are free to sell boats?
There are several websites where you can list your boat for sale for free. Some of the best options I found include:
- Boat.com – Offers free boat listings for everyone, including private individuals and dealers.
- Facebook Marketplace – Allows you to list your boat for sale and reach a wide audience of potential buyers on the platform.
- Craigslist – A popular classifieds website where you can post your boat for sale in the appropriate category.
- Boaters Free Marketplace – A Facebook group created for boaters to post boating-related items for sale or trade, free of charge.
While these websites do offer free listings, it’s essential to research each platform to determine which one best suits your needs because creating boat listings takes time.
Keep in mind that some websites may have limitations or restrictions on free listings, and you may need to consider paid listings for better exposure and features.
Selling Your Boat Online (Quick Reference Guide)
If you are selling your boat online privately, we created a quick reference guide table that lists out the process step by step from start to finish:
|1||Choose multiple websites to list your boat for maximum exposure|
|2||Take interior and exterior shots of your clean and well-lit boat|
|3||Write a detailed description, highlighting key features, upgrades, and maintenance history|
|4||Research comparable boats and set a reasonable asking price above your lowest acceptable price|
|5||Respond professionally and promptly to inquiries from potential buyers|
|6||Arrange showings, sea trials, and surveys for interested buyers|
|7||Discuss price and terms of the sale with the buyer|
|8||Finalize required paperwork, and transfer the title and registration|
Tip: Shortly after posting a boat, you will likely be contacted by people with lowball cash offers. These are usually dealers or professionals that are looking to buy your boat at a low price and then flip it to someone else for more money, but they will often try to disguise themselves as regular buyers and pitch that your boat just isn’t that valuable. They have to because if they told you what they were doing, it would confirm your boat was worth more, right?! Don’t take these offers personally, and unless you are open to a quick lowball cash offer, don’t take them seriously (It’s not a reflection of the actual value of your boat).
How to Show Your Boat to Potential Buyers
When a prospective buyer contacts you, be prepared to show them the boat and take them for a sea trial. Have documents confirming legal ownership and maintenance records on hand, and be honest about your boat’s condition. If you reach an agreement, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork to complete the transaction smoothly and quickly.
By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well on your way to selling your boat and enjoying your new one!
What Paperwork Is Needed To Sell My Boat?
There isn’t a lot of paperwork needed to sell a boat in most states, but if you’re missing what you do need, you are going to end up with a major headache!
The specific documents required may vary depending on your location and the type of boat you’re selling, but here’s a general list of paperwork you should prepare:
Paperwork You Need To Sell A Boat
|Title:||The boat’s title is the primary document proving legal ownership. You’ll need to sign it over to the buyer upon the completion of the sale.|
|Bill of Sale:||A bill of sale is a legal document that outlines the details of the transaction, including the sale price, buyer and seller information, and a description of the boat. Both parties should sign this document, and it’s a good idea to have it notarized for added security.|
|Maintenance Records:||Providing a comprehensive record of your boat’s maintenance history can help build trust with potential buyers and demonstrate that you’ve taken good care of the boat. Include receipts for repairs, routine maintenance, and any upgrades or modifications.|
|Warranty Information:||If your boat is still under warranty, provide the warranty information and any relevant paperwork to the buyer. This will give them peace of mind and potentially add value to the sale.|
|Registration and Licenses:||In many locations, boats must be registered with the appropriate authorities. Provide the buyer with a copy of the current registration, and inform them of any necessary steps to transfer the registration to their name. Additionally, if your boat requires specific licenses or permits, include these documents in the sale.|
|Insurance Information:||If your boat is insured, provide a copy of the insurance policy to the buyer. They may want to review the coverage and possibly continue with the same insurer.|
|Manuals and User Guides:||If you have the original manuals and user guides for your boat, its equipment, and any electronics, include these with the sale. These resources can be helpful for the new owner to better understand their boat and its features.|
Handling price negotiations with potential buyers can be a challenging aspect of selling your boat. It’s essential to strike a balance between being flexible and holding firm on your asking price. Here are some tips to help you navigate negotiations successfully:
- Know Your Boat’s Value: By now, you should be well versed in the value of your boat, and this is going to help you get to a price that sells the boat without being taken advantage of.
- Set a Realistic Asking Price: One of the biggest mistakes a boat owner can make is assuming that because they love their boat more than money, everyone else will. Set a price that moves the boat before something else breaks!
- Be Open to Offers: While it’s important to know the value of your boat, be open to reasonable offers from potential buyers. Professional dealers have a saying: “Your first money is usually your best money.” This is based on the fact that, more often than not, the first offer you thought was too low ends up being your best, but you got stuck waiting for a better offer that never showed up. The best way to lose money on a sale is to have a boat sitting for months and months with no sale.
- Know When to Hold Firm: If you receive an offer that’s significantly below your asking price, don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Politely explain your reasoning for the asking price and have facts, then be prepared to walk away from the negotiation if the buyer isn’t willing to meet your terms.
- Consider Additional Incentives: If you’re close to reaching an agreement but still have some sticking points, consider offering additional incentives, such as including accessories or offering to cover certain costs associated with the sale.
- Put Everything in Writing: Once you and the buyer have agreed on a price, put the terms in writing and have both parties sign the document. This will provide a clear record of the agreement and help prevent any misunderstandings during the final stages of the sale.
Is it hard to sell a used boat?
Yes, selling a boat can be difficult due to multiple factors: You have to have a boat that’s in good condition, you have to have the right market demand, then you have to have the right pricing strategy.
Do boats ever increase in value?
Yes, in recent years, due to low availability created by the supply chain, some boats are selling for more than their owners paid for them brand new.
Do boats have Carfax?
No, boats do not have Carfax or a Carfax equivalent. There are incident history reports for boats, but because damage and accidents are rarely reported to insurance companies unless they are serious, they are nowhere near as reliable as Carfax is with vehicles.
Can I sell my boat without a broker?
Yes, you can sell your boat without a broker, but as boats get bigger and more expensive, the process becomes more complicated, and this is where hiring a broker becomes advantageous.
Does Boat Trader take a percentage?
No, although Boat Trader listings are fairly expensive, they do not take a percentage of your sale.
What is the best form of payment to accept when selling a boat?
Cash is always the most secure option to ensure you aren’t the victim of any scams, however, the next best options are ACH/Wire transfers for large transactions and Venmo, Cash App, or Pay Pal for smaller boat sales.
Can I get a free appraisal for my boat?
Yes, there are boat appraisal services that offer free appraisals for your boat. These services can give you an estimate of your boat’s value based on the information you provide about its make, model, and condition.
In conclusion, selling your boat can be a rewarding experience when armed with the right knowledge and strategies. This comprehensive guide has covered crucial aspects of the process, from pricing and advertising to documentation and negotiation.
By following these tips and being well-prepared, you can navigate the boat-selling journey with confidence, ensuring a smooth and successful transaction that allows you to move on to your next boating adventure.