Selling a boat is a major decision. You may be interested in recouping your costs, generating cash for another purchase, or in some cases, turning a profit. No matter what, you’ll be interested in making as much money as possible, but if you price the boat too high, it’s not going to sell; these are the simple laws of economics.
How are you supposed to price a boat for sale appropriately?
STEP ONE: SET YOUR GOALS
First, understand your goals with selling the boat. Why are you selling the boat, and what do you hope to achieve?
Most people base their pricing decisions on one or more of the following:
- Profit/cash. You may be interested in getting the best price possible, even if it means taking longer to sell the vessel. Higher prices often lead to slower transaction speeds, and in some cases, may preclude the sale altogether.
- Speed of transaction. Other people are more interested in selling the boat as quickly as possible, in raising capital or get the sale over with. Lower-priced boats tend to sell much faster. Most people try to balance speed and profitability with their sale.
- Ease of transaction. Some sellers want to make the transaction as smooth and easy as possible. They’re willing to forgo some profitability and possibly some speed if it means getting rid of the boat without a hassle.
- New ownership. In some cases, you may also be concerned with the new owners. For example, if you’re selling a boat that once belonged to a loved one, you might want to ensure it goes to someone who can take proper care of it—even if it means selling for a lower price.
These are all dependent on your personal preferences, so consider them carefully before pricing your vessel.
STEP TWO: CALCULATE TYPICAL MARKET PRICES
When people sell a car, they usually consult Kelley Blue Book or a similar resource to find the “blue book” value of their vehicle. In other words, they want to know the estimated fair market price for the vehicle, considering its make, model, and condition.
Unfortunately, boats are much harder to price consistently than land vehicles. Two nearly identical boats from the same manufacturer might have very different prices just three years later, based on their operating condition.
Still, you can get a ballpark for the price range you should offer by looking to see what boats like yours have sold for in the recent past. Check popular online marketplaces for recent sale prices and use the average price you see as the basis for your calculations.
STEP THREE: EVALUATE THE CONDITION AND OTHER UNIQUE FACTORS
Next, you’ll need to evaluate the condition of your boat and other unique factors that might influence the sale price. A boat inspection is the best way to get started here, and you may be able to conduct one on your own.
Be sure to consider:
- Mechanical condition. Is the boat able to perform reliably? What does the engine look like? Does it start easily and handle well on the water? Does it make any strange noises? If there are any mechanical issues with the boat, you’ll need to lower the price to compensate—or invest the time and money necessary to make repairs.
- Superficial condition. Boats aren’t just about functionality. They’re also about flair. Most buyers don’t want a boat that looks rundown or shoddy, even if it runs well enough. Consider the superficial condition of your boat, including the image of the exterior, the condition of your internal assets (like seat cushions and canvases), and other cosmetic factors. Again, if your boat is in bad shape, you’ll need to reduce your asking price or make repairs.
- History of use. Your boat’s condition and sale price may also depend on how it’s been used in the past. For example, taking your boat out once a week will result in less wear and tear than taking it out daily. Operating a boat in saltwater will result in more internal degradation than operating it in freshwater.
- Current location/accessibility. Some markets are hotter than others. If you’re selling a boat in a remote, out-of-the-way location, you may not have as many interested buyers than if you live in a thriving coastal city.
- Onboard electronics. If you include the onboard electronics, you can include them in your sale price as well. However, you shouldn’t expect to fully recover your costs here, and you should understand that electronics tend to age quickly.
- Other accessories. Finally, consider your other included accessories. They may be able to boost your sale price slightly.
STEP FOUR: TIME AND POSITION THE SALE
Your price will be partially dependent on how and when you’re selling the vessel. For example, if you’re selling in spring, when people are excited to get out on the water, you can fetch a higher price than in fall, when people are lamenting putting their vessels away for the winter. You may also be able to get a higher price if you list your boat in the right place or target the right type of buyer.
STEP FIVE: PUT ON THE FINISHING TOUCHES
If you want to get a little more value out of your sale, you can sweeten the pot with these steps:
- Gather your maintenance records. Get your boat maintained or repaired and get copies of all your maintenance records.
- Give the boat a good wash and wax. It may be cosmetic, but it can make your boat look much more attractive.
- Take professional photos. If you’re listing your boat online, be sure to have professional photos taken so your boat can look its best.