Selling a boat can be an incredibly lengthy process. Here, we explain exactly how we do it and what you can expect when the time comes to sell yours.
How do you sell a boat? In order to successfully sell a boat, there are typically seven “stages” you must go through:
1.) Determination: Figure out why you are selling.
2.) Research: Figure out the value of comparable available boats for sale.
3.) Assessment: Assess the value of your boat.
4.) Appearance: Cleaning up and fixing your boat.
5.) Listing: Successfully listing the boat for sale.
6.) Negotiation: Agreeing on a price to let the boat go for.
7.) Delivery: Getting the boat out of your name and out of your possession.
This article will teach you exactly how to successfully sell your boat as fast as possible and for as much money as possible!
What Is The Best Place To Sell A Boat Online?
I’m sure we’ve all heard the popular saying: “The two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it, and the day you sell it!”.
Most of the time, if you take the correct necessary steps when it comes to selling your boat. You shouldn’t experience any issues and the whole process should be a pleasure.
Therefore, the ONLY best day of owning a boat is the day you buy it!
Before we explain the process of selling your boat and the best sites to list it on, it’s important to lay down the principles of selling a boat in order to make sure we execute the sale as best as possible.
We consider the boat sale process to have seven different stages: Determination, research, assessment, appearance, listing, negotiation and delivery.
Why Do I Need To Sell My Boat?
The first stage of selling your boat is the Determination phase.
This is the most overlooked step that most boat owners skip. This is the stage where you sit down and actually determine the reasons behind wanting to sell your boat.
Ask yourself: “WHY am I selling this boat?”.
Then ask yourself: “Do I NEED to sell, or do I WANT to sell?”.
If you NEED to sell, ask yourself this:
- How much money I need from the sale
- How quickly do I need to sell the boat
If you WANT to sell, ask yourself this:
- How emotionally attached am I to this boat, if any?
- What kind of shape is the boat currently in?
- How much work are we willing to put into it?
We think it’s very important to write all of these things out on paper in order to make things “real” and get the selling process started.
If you skip this step, selling your boat can turn into a 6 month, 1 year, 2 years or even longer experience! Not only does this delay the process, but your boat also loses value due to passing time and neglect of non-usage.
There are a few other questions you should ask yourself, however, these should get you thinking about what comes next.
When Should I Sell My Boat?
Statistics have shown the best time to sell a boat are the months of February through June.
Before you list your boat for sale, it’s important to first determine the value of the boat.
We all know that person who wants to sell their boat but lists it for a ridiculously high price that no one is willing to pay for.
It’s important to remember that a boat’s value is largely determined by what someone is willing to pay, when you are ready to sell. This brings us to the next stage of selling a boat:
You can start performing some base research by googling the exact year and model of your boat. You can look through the available listings while taking note of the quality and condition of those comparable boats on sale.
Remember, the value of the boat is determined by a range of specific conditions and situations that are not always in our favor.
The most influential factor to consider is the location of the boat. The location of the boat for sale determines how many available buyers there are around you as well as how “desirable” the boat is.
If you live near a lot of lakes, a ski boat, wake boat, bass boat or cubby cabin will be more desirable to potential buyers.
If you live near the ocean, an offshore center console will be more desirable.
The boating activities that can be done where you are will also play a role in determining the value of your boat.
How Do I Protect Myself When Selling A Boat?
Protecting yourself (and your wallet) is crucial when selling your boat.
It’s important to know this because if we look up the NADA guides suggested value rates of used boats, it can be deceiving as far as the actual value of a vessel.
For example… When we researched comparable prices for our 1985 Pursuit Tiara I/O conversion project that we completed a few months back, we noticed the suggested list price was way too high of almost $13K!
And we determined the actualy value someone would pay, was close to $9-10K!
So, if we went off of this number, you can see how we’d fall into the trap of thinking our boat is worth way more than it really is.
This brings us back to the value aspect of the:
Boat only being worth what someone is willing to pay for it when we are ready to sell!
We can finish the research stage by looking through a few of the most popular boat listing websites such as boat trader, boats.com, powerboatlistings.com, moreboats.com, eBay, and even craigslist!
Here, take into account all of the listing prices that are available and then compare these prices with the NADA guides suggested pricing. This should give you a better idea of what the value of your boat is (taking into account your location).
Having determined our pricing, we can now begin the assessment portion of the selling process.
This is where we assess the condition of our boat and see what we are working with. In other words, this is where we perform a full inspection on the boat.
How Long Does It Take To Sell A Boat?
Now that we’ve determined our pricing and have moved into the assessment phase, we need to inspect the boat.
The condition of the boat plays a big role in how long it takes to sell a boat.
If you’re unsure of how to inspect a boat, we have an excellent article that shows you How To Inspect A Boat Before Buying!
In this stage, we want to figure out what works on the boat and what doesn’t.
We’ll go through all the switches, testing lights, pumps, and the engine to see how the boat is doing.
We recommend you take note of all of your findings as this will play a huge part when we ultimately make the executive decision of fixing the things that aren’t working or selling the boat as-is.
Once you have a list of fixes, you will want to make a rough estimation of how much it would cost to fix everything yourself and decide whether you want to spend the money or not.
A general rule of thumb: if the cost to fix everything is NOT going to appreciate the boat in at least the same amount to the net sale price, it’s probably not worth doing.
In other words, if the boat is worth $10k as-is and costs approximately $3k to fix (but will still be worth $10-11k after it’s fixed), it is NOT worth fixing the boat.
However, if implementing all the fixes raises the value of the boat (or makes it easier to sell), say it would be worth $15 when done. Then it’s worth fixing.
At the end of the day, this is completely up to you, your boat and your specific situation.
Once you go through the assessment phase and compare your findings with what you found earlier when doing the pricing research, you will arrive at a realistic number that you can most likely get for the boat.
Before we go into the details of what you should list the boat for, we need to move into the appearance phase.
Do Boats Keep Their Value?
A well-maintained boat can mean the difference between getting a low or high amount for your vessel.
This is the beautification process where we go through the boat and clean it up as best as possible so that we can get some good pictures of it.
There are a few steps that we take and look out for when doing this…
Usually, we’ll remove anything that we don’t want to sell with the boat.
This can include special life vests, expensive anchors, good fenders, and whatever else we want to transfer over to our new boat (if you’re looking to buy a new one that is!).
Then we’ll remove any trash, miscellaneous bolts, screws, or anything that makes the boat look like an “unfinished project”.
At this point, we give the boat a really good cleaning. You can either detail the boat yourself, or hire someone else to detail the boat for you. It’s up top you!
Cleaning the boat will allow us to take some really great photos when it is freshly clean and shining! This will allow your boat to really stand out in the listing later on.
We typically get pictures of the engine, the boat, some interior and exterior photos. We like to show off the dash, controls, gauges and the switches.
If you have a cabin, a few shots from a few different angles are also recommended!
We also like to have photos of the boat while it is in the water! Bonus points if you can get a picture of the boat while it is on plane or pulling in fish. Pictures of the boat parked at the sandbar or on the beach are also great sellers.
These pictures are going to be what helps to sell the boat. We can take them and move into the listing phas
How Can I Sell My Boat Fast?
There are many ways to list the boat for sale.
There are a ton of websites to list the boat on. However, we first need to figure out how we want to go about it.
Do you want to pay to list the boat or are you trying to sell it without paying for listing space?
This is where many people contract a broker and have them do all of the listing for them (so they don’t have to deal with any of it). In this case, the broker typically takes a cut of the sale. Sometimes around 10% of the sale price!
You can also take the “paid” route without the broker! This is when you pay for listings on sites like boattrader.com, boats.com, eBay, or other online brokerages.
Yes, you will get a lot more visibility to your listing by listing on these sites, but they do have associated costs to list on them!
There is also the completely free route. This involves listing the boat on Craigslist, Facebook yard sale pages, or radio shows (like Biz Baz here in the keys where they advertise yard & garage sales).
Another effective strategy involves parking the boat on a heavily traveled road with a “For Sale” sign.
In our opinion, the quickest and best way to handle the listing is to do ALL of the free forms of listings along with one or two of the paid listings like boat trader or boats.com.
Following these steps will ensure that you receive the best exposure and opportunities to sell the boat in a timely manner.
We still need to talk about the price, the negotiation, and the delivery though…
Do You Have To Have A Title To Sell A Boat?
At this point it is mainly about setting the proper pricing, negotiating with buyers and having the title transferred over properly once the boat is sold.
Before we get into the final details, remember: After and only after you have the money in your account should you transfer the title.
NEVER sell a boat and transfer the title without having the money in the bank. If you get a check, make sure that you deposit that check and wait until the balance is cleared in your account.
When it comes to the selling price, based on all of the work we have done so far, we know what we want and need from the sale.
This is where we recommend you leave a little wiggle room in the listing price to allow for negotiation.
Usually, one or two grand is good enough as a few hundred bucks doesn’t leave us with much negotiating room!
For example, if all the comparable boats for sale are at $10k and we want $8k for our boat, then we can list for $9500 and have twice as many calls and sale opportunities as other listings since we beat them in terms of pricing.
Once you agree on a deal, it’s time to deliver the boat (which a lot of times happens right after a good test drive)!
At this point it’s time to get the title transferred over properly (only after you have the money in your account).
We’ll need to get the bill of sale written and signed by both parties and then get the title signed and handed over.
If you don’t have a title to the boat. It can still be sold, but it is a little trickier and the different hopes you will need to go through.
Will vary depending on the state that you live in and their local laws. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of getting a new title from the DMV by going through the “lost title” process.
Allowing you to still sell the boat, without the title, just with a little more work on your end.
Check Us Out!
Now that you know how to sell your boat. We’d like to invit you to Check out our YouTube channel where we show you step-by-step videos on all things boating!
And here are some other helpful articles packed full of information to help you with your boat!
How Much Can You Scrap A Boat For?
Flipping Boats For Profit: How To Make Money & Not Lose It!
How To Rent A Boat: Don’t Get Taken To The Cleaners! Know This!