All joking aside, it is possible to sell the boat by yourself and while maybe not making a profit, it is my hope you’ll stay even. The re-sale industry for boats is huge, most first time buyers will buy a pre-owned boat. Now if you you’re reading this because you’re thinking about buying a boat then click here instead.
There are tons of magazines that have boats for sale and tons of web sites as well. I Googled ‘boats for sale’ and came up with well over 12 million sites. Can you believe that? That’s a lot of boats and a lot of competition!
If you’re one of the readers who’ve really dug into this blog, then you know my day job is sales. I think I use the same approach to selling a boat that I use when working in the real world.
Step One: Know your market.
You need to know what other sellers of similar boats in your boating area are asking for and getting for their boats. One thing you’ll discover (and it hold true in my day job) is what a seller tells you they got and what they really got can be two different numbers.
Quite often in fizzbo boat selling it can become very difficult for both a buyer and seller to arrive at a price. Value is more a perceived thing, unless a lender is involved and maybe insurance, which can compound the process.
So as a boat seller you probably fall into one of two categories 1) I love my beautiful boat and want to sell her so I can by my next even more beautiful boat. Or 2) I hate this #@*!% boat and can’t wait to get rid of the money pit! No matter where you fall, your best bet is to become emotionally detached. This has to become a business transaction where emotion never comes into play.
So, how do you figure out what to ask? Look to the competition. Pick-up copies of local magazines, spend time on-line and walking the docks. On weekends brokers generally have ‘open boat’ similar to ‘open house’ in real estate, go and look. Take a hard look, keep notes and think about how your boat stacks up against the competition. You can also check the BUC numbers (you can Google BUC for contact information).
It’s hard to arrive at a price. You could have two boats that are the same size, age, manufacturer and location but find two different prices. Why, condition.
As I’ve said in other articles. When we looked for Whisper, our Newport 30; we saw tons of crap. A boat, like a house, is only worth what a seller is willing to sell for and a buyer is willing to pay. The first step is be realistic, if you can’t figure out a price you might consider paying a broker to figure out a price range for you. Then know too, they will keep in touch with you hoping for you to finally list with them. You might want to consider an ‘open’ listing. You pay them if they sell it and don’t if you sell it.
Step two: Get ready for the buyers.
Gather all the manuals for your boat and its equipment. If you have a maintenance log all the better! If you can, compile everything in a nice looking binder or decorative box. We keep a running log of all the repairs, upgrades, replacements and maintenance we do on our boats. We know that a prospective buyer will want to know what we’ve done. I’ll tell you, a worn, old log book showing regular oil changes, fuel filter changes, date of new running rigging, etc. goes a long ways.
Never try to hide a problem. If you know something a buyer would want to know, be straight up with them. Most times these issues can be resolved but if you wait for them to find it on a survey; you may just kill the deal.
Don’t list something as new if it isn’t. Two year old canvas isn’t new, it’s newer. If you’ve used it, even once don’t call it new. If it is new, leave it in the box it came in.
Be ready to answer questions about your boat. The more you know about it, including the manufacturer, the more the buyer will trust you. Be ready to talk about costs, maintenance, fuel, dock fees, insurance.
Step three: Stage your boat.
I know from experience in my sales that buyers make their buying decision within 3 seconds of the door. Anything they think, do or say after that is only to confirm their first feelings.
You have to catch them before they step foot aboard. How? Clean up everything. If there are green lines of slime running down the topsides and spider webs and debris in the cockpit how well do you think you’ll do compared to the pristine boat just down the dock?
Haul off everything that doesn’t go with the boat. Then haul off everything that does and box it up. You can give it to the buyer when they take delivery.
You want them to feel welcome. You want them to envision their stuff onboard. They can’t do that if every nook and cranny is filled to overflowing with your stuff.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that ‘normal wear and tear’ will be ok. Buyers today are very savvy and know what your competition is. You have to beat the competition.
Once you have all the gear out, haul in the cleaning supplies. Crank up your favorite tunes and clean away. Start in the bow and work aft, inside and out. Remember, this will bring you a faster sale and better price. Hum to the music and think of the money you’re making!
If you’ve curtains hanging take them down and clean them. You can soak them in a bucket, rinse them out and then hang to drip on the lifelines and put them back up before they are completely dry if you need to. Clean the cushions. Remove any mold or mildew. Oil the teak, clean the fiberglass and polish the topsides. You might want to consider using a product like poly glow click here to see that article. If you’ve really mummy-fied running rigging think about at least soaking it in a cleaner. I had a surveyor once tell me to wash it in the dishwasher! So if it’s not all worn out clean it up. Wash the sails, canvas, windows everything.
Don’t leave dead fire extinguishers, expired flares, ripped PFD’s, dead batteries, burned out running lights, full head holding tanks or rat droppings hanging around the boat.
When we splashed our boat for the survey, I had a moment of panic. I was sitting in the saloon, the surveyor is in the lazerette and I see a sparkling on the sole around the bilge cover. Puzzled, on a strange boat that I know nothing about, I leaned down to lift the bilge cover. To my horror I find a water filled bilge that is starting to over flow into the saloon. I tried to sound calm as I told the surveyor we were ‘taking on water’. They asked if I knew where the bilge pump switch was, which of course I didn’t. Thankfully, our surveyor was quite calm and collected and manually pumped out the bilge from the cockpit. A lesser buyer would have walked. All because the stuffing box nut needed to be tightened up.
This next step is one that won’t be something everyone will want to do. Have a survey done. Often a surveyor will do pre-market survey. This will pinpoint things you need to work on. Like the stuffing box nut….
When the buyers finally step aboard, you want everything to work. The engine needs to fire right up. The head need to flush and the instruments need to function. Don’t leave any stone unturned before you begin marketing. It’s easier to fix a problem now than wait until you’re trying to work with an emotionally charged buyer. At which point you could loose that sale and have to start over.
I was always amazed by what I saw when we were looking for our current boat. Dark, dank holes in the water with rusty coffee cans full of rusty tools in the galley lockers, foul heads, mold and mildew and dirty dishes piled on top of molding sail bags. A veritable garden growing 3-4 feet long on the bottom of a boat who’s topsides were verdant with neglect.
If your boat looks as if she was rode hard and put away wet, then you deserve to loose money on her. Get up off your duff and clean her up! Once that’s done, come back for part two of this two part series.
Happy scrubbing and think of the money that’s coming. Please remember to help out if you can.
2 Comments posted on "How to sell your boat- the Ninja Secretes"
How to for sale by owner your boat part 2 on October 29th, 2007 at 5:27 pm #
[…] and I, it was worth the effort. Best wishes and happy fishing for the buyer. Missed part one? Click here. Read More Post a […]
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