We coming up to that time of year again where people think about buying a boat….your boat. You’ve had your fun but now you want to trade up or you’ve decided that boating just isn’t in the schedule anymore. She’s been go to you so now it’s time for her to be good to her next owner. Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but as a boat owner this will be your key to selling your boat faster and obtaining the best offers. Here’s a few other tips and tricks of the trade to getting your boat SOLD.
1. Make her SHINE!
It’s only part of the human trait to draw conclusions based off visual evidence . Ratty docklines = you can’t take care of the essentials, rusty brown water in the bilge = not a very good boat keeper, dirty black gunk on an engine dipstick = possible engine problems. When a possible buyer see the condition of a floating eyesore there’s 2 conclusions that will come to mind: automatically assume that maintenance is equally shoddy on all the systems and the other is immediately thinking of making a low ball offer. Where real estate is “location, location,location,” boats are “looks, looks, looks.” For the outside, take the time and have the hull waxed, polish all metal, make sure the teak isn’t gray and other surfaces are removed from all stains. Spending a little bit for looks will return in a better resale value. Just like your house, the inside of your boat should have a good “spring cleaning,” of walls wiped down, carpets cleaned, kitchen all wiped down with a good deep clean of the fridge and stove/oven, remove any orders (pets, smoking, mildew, etc.), and don’t forget that the bilge will need to be cleaned out too.
The old joke is that a boat is a hole in the water, but the truth is that we throw junk, not money, into it. If you were to open every compartment on your boat, there’s no doubt you’ll find useless items everywhere. Empty WD-40 cans, bent shackles, gaskets that fit nothing, all the stuff that needed to be tossed but instead took up permanent residence. This could be where that “smell” you can’t seem to get rid of is coming from. As you clean out each compartment, put a fresh coat of paint in there. Cleaned out lockers show plenty of room to the buyer.
Take all your personal gear off the boat, because you want potential buyers to start thinking about your boat as their boat. Not only will this get rid of personal attachments, but it will also make the boat seem quite a bit larger.This is also the time to remove anything that doesn’t go with the sale. Too many million-dollar sales have been queered at the eleventh hour by the question of who gets the $100 barometer. Don’t pillage the boat, but take anything with a personal sentiment and leave the rest. Tip: Take the toaster and blender from the galley. They date the boat, make the counters look crowded and are probably dirty, too.
4. Fix Her Up
No boat larger than a dinghy sells without a survey these days, so it’s better to fix things before that point. Now is the time to cure that erratic windshield wiper, because Murphy’s Law says a buyer is going to flip that one particular switch. Sure, you lived with it, but the buyer only sees an example of poor maintenance. Make sure the fire extinguishers are current, the life jackets legal, and the flares within their expiration dates. When it comes to the canvas on board, if yours is worn or tired, you have three choices: Remove it, repair it or replace it. To cut your replacement costs, remove anything that isn’t necessary to the sale. A bimini top is expected, so either repair the frozen snaps or, if the top is marginal, replace it. This shouldn’t have to be said but make sure the engines start promptly. Don’t loose the sale because the battery was drained and the engines wouldn’t fire. Tune the engines and charge the batteries, because you want to impress the buyer with engines that fire instantly. If you had the engines or gear rebuilt professionally, get the receipts and make them available. You need to prove that your engines or generator have a certain number of hours, or that the air conditioning was rebuilt on this date. This is to reassure the buyer.
5. Share Her History
Sure, a boat can sell on its own, but, with a little work, you can add immensely to the sale price. Some of the smartest buyers I’ve seen have assembled a notebook providing all the details of the boat’s history: upgrades, inventory, systems. Some have included tear sheets from positive magazine reviews of their make and model of boat; others have listed voyages taken. This is, plain and simple, a selling tool. Tip: You might include some ads for similar boats—that are more expensive, of course! It goes without saying.The same thing applies to photography. I’m always astounded, in this age of digital cameras, that so many brokerage photos look like they were shot with a Polaroid from the ’60s. Get good, well-lit photos of every area of your boat, from saloon, to cabins, to heads. This means the engine room, cockpit, foredeck and, if there is one, the flybridge. Get detailed shots of the electrical panel and electronics, and don’t forget the tender, too.
6. Price Her Right
Most people don’t realize it, but there are, of course, three prices: the seller’s price, the buyer’s price and the fair market value. Your starting point should be the market value, because owners invariably overvalue their boats. See what similar boats with similar equipment are selling for, and then price yours aggressively. You don’t want to be on the market for months. You can’t do anything about the buyer’s idea of the price, but if he or she makes an offer fairly close to what you’re asking, grab the money and run.
After you get her looking good and listed on the market, sit back and enjoy the process of the sale.