Trading up or cashing out, if you’ve decided to sell your boat, proper staging is critical to getting your desired price. To make your boat appear better than the others on the market, you should spend the time to thoroughly prepare your boat for sale and show that your boat is well-maintained and free of any issues for potential buyers. Here are some tips on getting the best possible price for your used boat.
Give the Exterior a Good Cleaning
Just as when selling a house, first impressions are everything when you are trying to attract buyers. A clean boat is a sure sign that the owners have taken good care of the boat. Thoroughly clean and wax the exterior and set up a maintenance plan for a clean appearance while the boat is on the market. If possible, apply a fresh coat of varnish and clean and oil the teak. Repair or replace damaged enclosures and canvas. Clean out debris in hatch bindings and scuppers. And hoist new flags and pennants. Tattered rags are a sure sign of a neglected boat.
Make Sure the Interior Shows Well
As a rule, if it’s not included in the sale, get it off the boat. A tidy and neutrally styled boat interior is more inviting for buyers and will help showcase cabin features and amenities. Eliminate unnecessary personal belongings and clutter to make your boat cabin feel more spacious and ready for quick possession. Shampoo the carpet and have the drapes and bunk covers cleaned. Invest a few dollars in replacing worn-out accessories. Clean out drawers and stowage bins. Pump out the shower sump to eliminate the sour water smell. Clean up any mildew issues and keep the inside of the cabin smelling fresh and feeling dry with moisture absorbers and scented air fresheners.
Tune-Up the Engine(s)
Engines are seen as the most expensive and problem-prone parts of a boat. Make sure your engine(s) run well and show well. Change oil and fuel filters. Older gasoline engines should have clean carburetors that are set to a proper idle. Clean out the raw-water strainers. Make sure that bilge pumps are working properly.
Cosmetically, the bilge should be spotless. Use oil-absorb pads under the machinery. Clean, prime and paint the engines and generator. Replace worried-looking hoses and clamps. Finally, have the boat fueled and ready for a thorough sea trial on short notice.
Show that You Were an Organized, Conscientious Owner
A potential buyer will have more confidence in the underlying condition of the boat if he/she sees that the prior owner was meticulous in caring for the boat. Gather all paperwork for mechanical, electrical and electronics systems together and present them in a binder. Have maintenance records handy and readable. Prepare a list of spare parts and extra equipment, such as props, shafts and filters. Let your obsessive side show a bit.
Consider Hiring a Surveyor for a Pre-Sale Marine Survey
Nobody likes surprises when buying a boat. Mechanical issues that come up for the first time during a buyer’s survey might very well ruin a sale opportunity. Do all of the gauges work properly? Why is the port engine running hotter than the starboard? By hiring your own surveyor to uncover potential problems, you’ll have the option of fixing or addressing them with the potential buyer before they cost you the sale.
Why List the Boat with a Broker?
Most brokers will charge a 10% commission for selling a used boat. In exchange for that commission they will help to stage the boat, provide professional advice, advertise your listing and handle most of the paperwork involved in the sale. Like a realtor, a boat broker represents the seller’s interest, not the buyer’s.
If you decide to save the commission and sell the boat yourself, you will be responsible for all of the above. The paperwork and forms are available on line, as are many advertising resources. But you’ll be responsible for staging the boat and keeping it in selling condition. Since most boat shopping occurs on weekends, expect to be tied down during your time off. Also, you may simply dislike negotiating, so this should factor heavily into your decision.