I heard some statistic recently about how long most boaters keep their vessels, and it's not very long! I think it was someting like every four years that, on average, folks buy or sell their boats; in fact, it may have been less.
Believe it or not, it's easy to sell a boat! As many of you know, I work with a local broker, and before the recent Boat Show began, we predicted out of our twelve boats on display, which two would sell quickest. Of all the boats, these two were (1) the cleanest, and (2) reasonably priced. As it turned out, we were right. One sold for nearly $100,000 at the show, while we have shown and re-shown the other dozens of times in the week following to very interested buyers and expect a sale soon.
So often, getting a boat "clean" is simple, and cheap. One boat we had on display was really a lovely vessel, but unfortunately the owner hadn't cleaned and re-oiled the teak. Folks who looked at the boat were immediately "put off" thinking that he wasn't a good caretaker of the vessel, but that wasn't true . . . he just had run out of time, so he put more oil on dirty teak, and it was very dark and old-looking. Too bad. No sale.
Another boat was a popular, inexpensive model, but the upholstery was somewhat battered, the bilges were dirty, the boat had been neglected since the owner decided to sell. When compared with another boat of the same model, the differences were glaring. Sure, any buyer could easily do what was needed, but most buyers don't want a fixer- upper, they want to use and show off their new boat right away. No sale.
And there was the very-highly regarded boat with a very nice interior and great engines, in fact, a pretty good boat, but priced around $80,000 when the competition was at $70,000. And some cosmetic improvements were done in the darndest colors: who wants a boat with a brown cockpit? No sale.
Two of the boats were really nice. They were shown to, and appreciated by, many visitors. The price was a concern to many visitors, and we got no offers. Then, right after the show, the prices were lowered, but it was too late, the prospects are gone and, though not forgotten, have formed the opinion that they were "nice boats, but too expensive".
Here is a checklist of things to do to sell your boat quickly. Are they worth it? Decide for yourself: A boat prepared according to this checklist will invariably sell quicker, and for as much as 10-20% more than an "average" boat.
( ) Have a survey less than 12 months old, prepared by a reputable, thorough surveyor. Comply with any safety or structural deficiencies found by the surveyor, and make the survey available to prospects. If the boat is gasoline-fueled, and the engine(s) have more than 750 hours, get a compression test on each engine cylinder, and record the compression readings.
( ) Take care of the "little stuff"! Tighten loose screws, especially on hatches, handles, hinges. Tighten rails. Fix bulbs, lights, switches that don't work.
( ) Have the boat interior clean! ( ) Bilges clean and fresh ( ) Carpets vacuumed, or if necessary, steam cleaned ( ) Headliner clean (soapy sponge) ( ) Interior partitions clean (soapy sponge, teak oiled) ( ) Galley counters spotless ( ) Stove (especially oven) spotless ( ) Refrigerator clean ( ) Heads, especially nooks and crannies, clean ( ) Drawers and cabinets clean ( ) Engine(s) degreased, paint touched up where necessary ( ) Flybridge & seat lockers, cockpit hatch area clean
( ) Have the boat exterior bright! ( ) Fiberglass rubbed out, polished ( ) Natural teak, if any, cleaned (Te-Ka) ( ) Oiled Teak, if any, freshly cleaned, oiled and bright ( ) Varnished brightwork, if any, "up to snuff" ( ) Stainless & chrome polished & waxed ( ) Sails, if any, neatly stowed, inventoried, in good shape. ( ) Lines/fenders clean, unfrayed, and shipshape.
( ) Have the boat interior organized for showing ( ) Personal items off boat if possible ( ) Eliminate clutter! Take notes off walls, tidy up shelves or better yet, empty them. ( ) Make the boat look modern! Remove old floating cushions, old canvas pieces, and similar miscellaneous stuff. Get a new throw pillow or two. Get inexpensive but bright bedspreads or blankets ---even if you then exclude them from the sale. You want your boat to have maximum appeal to any prospective buyer's "first mate".
( ) Don't forget the dinghy! ( ) Dinghy clean and neat. Better no letters at all than having most of name worn off! Paint if necessary. ( ) Outboard clean. Make it look good!
( ) Don't forget the canvas! ( ) Replace bungees which have no stretch left. Only costs a few cents, and helps with the first impression. ( ) Replace missing snaps. ( ) Better no canvas than canvas in tatters. If the canvas is essential, get new canvas where necessary and "brag" about it in your listing --- and raise your price to cover cost.
( ) Price the boat right. Look at comparable boat listings and don't price yours at the top unless superlative. Ask yourself, honestly, "What would I pay for my boat today on the open market?", then ask only a little more. Watch the "price points". It's dumb, but a boat priced at $29,900 will attract more interest than a boat at $30,000! Price at less than survey "market" value.
Hiring out the work to comply with all of the above suggestions might cost $1,000. It is virtually a certainty that you will get offers at least that amount higher if you have followed these recommendations.
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