The longer it takes to sell your boat the more you will pay in storage/berthing costs and in keeping her in tiptop condition.  You want to get the best price possible as quickly as possible so you don’t want to face a list of problems used to drive the price down just as you are hoping to close the sale.  Today’s buyer will often begin their search on the internet. They will have already have looked at many boats, compared prices, condition, and equipment. They will already be well informed and educated about a particular boat and you the seller should be equally prepared when presenting your boat for inspection. 

From experience, here is a list of 6 things to bear in mind when you decide to place your boat on the market:

1.Keeping Up Appearances

2. Size Matters

3. Freshly Baked Bread

4. All Systems Go

5. No Holding Back

6 Survey and Sell

Boat purchase is fraught with emotion so the above is a list of things that will help to ensure that a potential buyer doesn’t get turned off emotionally and accepts that she is worth every penny of the price you want.  (And having undertaken the above steps your boat will require minimal additional preparation for a Pre-purchase Survey once your buyer makes his/her decision.)

Keeping Up Appearances

Make sure your boat is clean and shiny. Have the topsides and deck compounded and waxed to bring out the shine. Polish the metal and add a fresh coat of varnish or oil to any woodwork, touch up any paint that needs it. Replace any worn carpet or faded curtains. Remove or replace any worn or old canvas. Replace old frayed dock lines and fenders, this will give the impression the boat is well cared for. Remove personal photos - you want the buyer to think of this as his boat not yours – but leave a couple of small photos of your happy family using the boat to show the fun you have had, and give the buyer a positive image. Remove those cute plaques with the funny sayings, they are a distraction and a buyer may not find them as funny as you do. Clean out the fridge and food lockers. Put baking soda in the food lockers and fridge to remove any odours. Make the boat look attractive and ready to use but not cluttered. If you cannot attend to your boat because you are out of the area hire someone to do it for you. This way you boat will always look good even for a prospective buyer who is just walking down the marina.                                     Back to list

Size Matters

Clean out all the lockers, remove all personal belongings. Leave just what you are selling with the boat and what is needed for normal operation. If you are still using the boat keep the personal belongings to a minimum. Now that the lockers are cleaned out giving them a good coat of fresh white paint will make them look even bigger.

Make sure the engine compartment is clean and orderly. Clean any oil or grime and touch up the paint on the engines. Place new oil absorbant pads under the engines. Clean and paint the bilges. Secure any loose or hanging wires and hoses. Clean the cooker and remove any extra appliances like blenders and toasters - such items add little value and make the galley look smaller and cluttered. Clean out the head compartments. This is one area you really want to shine - if the buyer’s wife walks into a smelly nasty head the sale may be over! Remove any soggy rolls of toilet paper from the corners of the lockers; clean all traces of mould and dirt.                        Back to list

Freshly Baked Bread?

While the smell of freshly baked bread is often cited as a selling point for house vendors, let's keep it practical. But do keep the holding tank cleaned out and add deodorant. If your head uses salt water for flushing, shut off the intake and flush several times with fresh water. Make sure the bilge is clean and fresh, flush out the shower sump and add one of those non-coloured toilet bowel cleaner tablets to your bilge. Air the boat out often, and make sure it is dry inside. Fix any deck leaks that may be allowing water in. Empty lockers do not smell but those filled with wet rope do! Clean up any mildew or mould.                         Back to list

All Systems Go

Before the buyer arrives turn everything on and make sure it works as it’s supposed to. Go down to the boat once a week or so and start the engines, run pumps, turn on lights, make a list of things that do not work and get them fixed. Check the batteries and make sure they hold a charge. Check all engine fluids. Fill the water tank. Turn on all the lights, blow the horn.

Pretend you’re a buyer yourself and test everything. Boats are complicated systems and it takes time to test every part but you know a buyer is going to hire me or one of my colleagues to do just that. He will want to have a list of what does not work when its time to sign the contract.

Have the boat fuelled and ready for a sea trial on a short notice. Fill the water tank and check for leaks. Make sure the hot water heater works. If you have raw water wash down and/or a bait tank, make sure all these systems are working and not leaking. Make sure all the engine gauges and tank level meters work. If you run out of fuel on a sea trial because the gauge wasn’t working you could lose the sale. Clean out sea strainers, and air filters. Change oil and fuel filters. Check the wipers. Make sure all the doors and drawers operate freely. Replace old hoses and hose clamps.

If selling a yacht make sure all the rigging and hardware operates smoothly, a little Silicone sprayed in the tracks and blocks can make a world of difference. in how this equipment operates.

If you are selling your boat with a trailer make sure it is in good operating condition and that all the lights work. Many buyers these days locate boats on the internet and want to take them home with them after looking at the boat. If you have a road worthy trailer you can expand the area for potential buyers by hundreds of miles.  Back to list

No Holding Back

If your boat lives in the water make sure she has been hauled for a basic bottom job. Clean,  paint/antifoul, fit new anodes, check the running gear make sure the props are in good condition and check the bearings. A clean hull will perform better giving better speeds and performance on a sea trial this especially true for yachts and high performance power boats.  Back to list

Survey and Sell

A pre-sale survey can sometimes give you an edge. In addition to highlighting those little defects that you have become accustomed to over the years a surveyor can provide suggestions for improving the appearance of the boat and you can show you already corrected any deficiencies. If there are any defects that could turn out to be deal breakers at least you will be aware of them in advance.  Remember, you remain the client to whom the surveyor is liable and your buyer is still strongly advised to have his/her own independant pre-purchase survey carried out which should affirm that the boat is as you are presenting it.                   Back to list