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Great Preparation Tips When Selling Your Boat

Great Preparation Tips When Selling Your Boat

From Pantaenius Sail & Motor Yacht Insurance

The day you wake up and realise it’s time for a new boat – maybe you want a bigger one or a smaller one, or a newer one or a faster one – the reason for your decision does not matter. But before your new boat arrives, you’ll have to sell the old one you have.

Here are the key tips to help you move the old one on.


The first impression is your buyer’s most important experience. People make their minds up quickly and often simply because of the first impression. When your buyer first sees frayed dock lines, or finds oil and stained services in the engine room, they are already of the opinion that you do not look after your boat. When the boat is dirty and a mess inside, the potential buyer will automatically think it’s poorly maintained. Even if he or she is still interested, the offer will likely be very low.

The broker will tell you that the first appearance is the most important, and if your boat is pristine and well-presented, it is already half sold. While the three most important words in real estate are “location, location, location,” they are “looks, looks, looks” for boats. Make sure you have tiptop external paintwork, polished gelcoat, and thick and shiny varnish. If you can’t DIY, then consider paying a pro. A small investment in maintenance can earn you thousands in resale value.

Don’t leave any space unattended! A serious buyer will open every locker and floorboard and so will absolutely find the space you forgot to attend to.


Remove everything inside cabinets or storage spaces that is not essential for the boat., especially grease cans, WD40, paint, and spare parts etc. Not only will this make your storage spaces look bigger, but it will most likely remove a cause of some of the old smells.


Remove all your personal gear – photos, clothes, toiletries. This helps you detach from your once-loved asset! It also helps in the declutter process. Also remove anything you want to keep. It’s always a bad look for an owner to start taking stuff off the boat during hand-over.


If something is broken or does not work, then fix it. Discerning buyers start looking harder at times like this. Make sure safety equipment is up to date and in good working order. It is not acceptable to find fire extinguishers and flares that went out of date in the 90’s! If your old electronics are not working properly, consider replacing them, or remove them if your budget does not allow replacement. Buyers often have a different opinion as to the value of electronics anyway so in this case, it’s just about removing any negatives.

If external canopies and covers are not in good condition, remove them, or replace them if your boat looks bare without the canopies.

Make sure the engines start and stop as they should, and always have them serviced. Batteries need to be in good condition so that engines and services are 100% operational.

For an older boat, consider steam cleaning the engine and engine space. Just remember that if you start this process, you will likely have to re-paint the engine and engine room as well. Be aware that if you do half the job here, it will be very obvious and just give the impression that you covered bad stuff up!

Any work you may have done, including engine rebuilds and significant parts replacements, should be supported by evidence with corresponding receipts. If your engine has been fully reconditioned, install a new hour meter and have this covered in the receipt for works completed. This way you don’t need to get into a lengthy explanation about engine hours with a buyer.


Some boats may have additional value associated with their history – winning a high-profile race or have been owned by someone famous. In any case, it’s always worth having the history documented.

Where you have spent considerable sums on renewing and replacing older components, or where you have altered and modernised or significantly improved the boat, have these properly documented again with invoices and receipts for all works. These documents will always help educate your buyer and assist in a hassle-free sale.

Your boat may have an identical or close sister ship, and if you have ads or sale information on these boats that evidence and support the value you are seeking, have this information included in your file to show any prospective purchaser. Nothing better than a recent comparable sale to justify your asking price.


Providing a survey is a positive and can assist in a fast sale, even if some buyers will still insist on having their own survey, as some can be suspicious about the independence of the one you may provide. If you’re not an experienced boater or your boat is older, an independent report from a surveyor can be helpful in identifying issues that you can easily fix prior to the sale.


This is always a contentious issue. Owners have an investment both financially and emotionally in their boat, some more than others. This will affect what they believe their pride and joy is worth. Buyers, more often than not, are looking for a deal and are likely to have looked far and wide to find and compare their new purchase. The fair sale price is somewhere in the middle. The best place to start is to compare like for like, and recent sales of sister ships or similar boats is a great place to start.

The above applies well to production boats while the sale of a one-off boat can be more complicated in terms of arriving at a fair sale price. In this case, look for similar boats with similar equipment at a similar age. Then look for condition and presentation, and again compare wherever possible.

If you list your boat at what you believe is a fair asking price, and it still remains for sale 12 months later, you have likely asked for too much. On the flip side, if you have three offers in the first week, then it is likely you have underpriced!

When assessing the fair price, ask a broker for advice. You don’t have to follow this advice 100%, but at least you can use the expert knowledge to help you determine what a fair asking price may be.


If you’re promoting your boat online or in a broker’s window, then be sure to have great quality images available. It’s worth taking time to show your loved asset in its best light. You may need to email images to a prospective buyer so be sure to have enough to show every feature, inside and out.

Consider presenting your boat like you would a house. You can set the galley up with a bowl of fruit, set the dinette up with plates and cutlery, and you can buy new bedding for the cabins. Display images of your favourite anchorage showing crystal clear water and dolphins can also help. In this process its horses for courses! If your boat is a caravan and likely to appeal to a buyer looking for the same, then dressing it up with homely features will help. However, if it’s a game fishing boat, setting the bale as suggested above is unlikely to assist!

Just always remember, less is more!

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