Top 10 things to Prepare Your Boat for Sale

Selling a used vessel is not unlike selling a home. Presentation is everything, both online and upon close personal inspection. Most buyers are only interested in clean, well maintained boats…AND they still expect to get a good deal to boot! To get the best price in a reasonable amount of time, consider the following when putting your boat on the market:

Remove excess clutter from the boat. A “well lived in” appearance” will not maximize your return! Have any remaining gear neatly stowed and organized. This costs you nothing!

When was your last engine service? If it’s been a year or more, consider a professional check-up, routine service and oil change. Most engine surveys include oil sampling, and dirty oil is likely to have high contaminant levels. Red flags on oil samples can throw a perfectly good deal into turmoil. Transmissions are often overlooked. Be sure zincs are not wasted, and that fluid levels are within limits, including battery water.

Repair any obvious deficiencies now, so they don’t cause problems later. If repairs are impractical, be prepared to make allowances for them. It is reasonable for a buyer to expect that listed equipment is in working condition. However, repairing outdated or worn-out equipment is often a waste of money. Discuss with your Broker. A repair credit toward a new item may be more enticing to a buyer.

Once engine service and/or general repairs are complete, have the boat professionally detailed inside and out. Don’t look for the cheapest wax job! Generally you get what you pay for. Repair gelcoat damage if needed. Don’t forget the engine room, lazarettes, and bilges.

If it smells, it won’t sell! Make sure the holding tank is pumped and deodorizer added. There are natural enzyme sprays that can break down boat odors without undesirable side effects.

Shampoo or replace carpet that is dirty or worn. Old carpet holds odors. Fresh carpeting can make a boat look and smell new again. Consider fresh varnish on wood flooring.

Consider replacing canvas and eisenglass that is in poor condition. This is always expensive, and canvas shops are typically back-logged for weeks or months. Your detailing service may be able to clean canvas and recondition eisenglass with acceptable results…saving you a bundle!

Do a pre-sea trial if the boat has been sitting unused for a while. Getting towed in by Vessel Assist will not impress a perspective buyer! Check for ease of start up, excessive smoke or vibration, proper full throttle RPM without overheating and alarms going off. Exercise systems routinely on a regular basis.

How much is my boat worth? A good Yacht Broker should provide you with a comparative market analysis, (CMA) of current active listings and recent sold comparables. Overpriced boats sit on the market indefinitely, costing you much more in the long run! Also discuss the Broker’s sales experience, marketing plan, and general boating knowledge. Check online to see how their other listings are presented. Is there a comprehensive write-up with lots of quality photos? What you see is probably what you will get!

Keep the boat neat and clean, inside and out; but dont’ let it sit unused and neglected. Exercise engines and systems at least monthly to keep them in working order. By all means, continue to use and enjoy your boat until she sells. And scheduled washdowns are best…no more than two weeks apart.

The more things you do, the faster the boat will sell, and the better price you will get. Of course, all this can really add up. A professional Broker can offer opinions as to what improvements would be the most cost-effective, within your budget constraints…and can provide referrals for work. Remember, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!”

-Bob Sherman, YachtSource