7 Top tips to sell your boat fast

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

As they always say the two best days in a boater’s life being the day they buy their boat and the day they sell it may still hold true. However, the better of those days could be the day you sell your boat, since that might be the first step in upgrading to a newer, better boat!

Here’s Gold Coast Boatz Top Tips to maximise the price and make your boat sell fast

1. Clean, Clean, Clean.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression! It’s a natural human trait: We draw conclusions based on visual evidence. When a potential buyer walks up to your boat and sees dirty and dull gel coat, it’s clear that you don’t take care of essentials. When the buyer looks into the bilge and sees rusty brown water, you obviously aren’t a good boat keeper. If he pulls an engine dipstick and sees dirty black gunk, well, what would you think about the engine condition?

I know when I see a boat that’s a floating dump two things come to mind. Firstly, I automatically assume that maintenance is equally shoddy on all the systems. And secondly, I immediately think about making a low-ball offer. Any boat broker will tell you that the first 30 seconds aboard are the most important, and if your buyer sees a sparkling boat, it’s already half sold. In real estate, the three most important words in a home are “location, location, location.” For boats, it’s “looks, looks, looks.”

On the outside, now is the time to wax the hull, polish the metal to a gleam and add a coat of fresh varnish. Teak decks shouldn’t be gray, and non-skid surfaces shouldn’t have stains, either. A small investment in maintenance can earn you thousands in resale value.

Inside, give your boat a good spring clean. If you have carpet, a shampoo will remove the dirt and stains that you don’t even notice anymore. Curtains and upholstery need cleaning, too, especially if you have pets or smokers aboard.

In the galley, it’s particularly important to clean the stove and oven to get rid of spills and crumbs from your last trip because many women look at the stove to see how well the boat is maintained and remember it is usually the wife that makes the final decision. Empty out the refrigerator, clean it thoroughly, and leave an open box of baking soda inside to remove the odour of that onion you forgot months ago.

Wipe down all cabinets and bulkheads using a household cleaner, and I guarantee you’ll be shocked by the colour of the cloth afterward. Tip: Leave sheets of scented fabric softener in drawers and lockers so they have the fragrance of fresh laundry when a buyer opens them.

And, yes—cleaning means the bilge, too. If it’s really grim, give it a good steam clean or pressure wash to bring it back to pristine.

If you don’t have the time then you can always use a professional detailer they range from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on the size and state of your particular boat but remember this is an investment to maximise the amount you can get for your boat, we have had instances where an owner spent $1500.00 on a detail and increased the sale price by over $7000.00.

2. Make Her Smell Good.

Cleaning is just a start, because your boat has to smell clean and fresh too. How many times have you stepped below into a funky aroma that combines oil, mildew, dirty bilge and a nasty head into a scent that is guaranteed to kill a sale. Pay particular attention to the head, where it needs to look and smell like the day the boat launched. Empty the holding tank, and add chemicals to neutralize any aroma. Make sure you leave ports or hatches open to air the boat thoroughly. Think about how inviting it feels when you’re looking at boats in a boat show, and make yours the same.

3. De-Junkify.

If you were to open every locker and drawer today on your vessel, you’d be astounded at the amount of useless stuff you have aboard: Empty WD-40 cans, bent shackles, gaskets that fit nothing, all the stuff that needed to be tossed but instead took up permanent residence. Why do we fill galley drawers with stray corks? No one ever needs corks. Archaeologists would have a field day aboard any modern boat.

Empty lockers look much larger, and you’ll find that many of the odours you’ve been fighting to get rid of emanate from the grungy stuff within. Clean the lockers, and the aroma goes as well. You want your buyer to think you have immense amounts of stowage space because, as you know, there is never enough.

4. De-Personalize.

Take all your personal gear off the boat, because you want potential buyers to start thinking about your boat as their boat. Personal photographs: Gone. Lipstick and shaving cream in the head: Gone. Not only will this get rid of personal attachments, but it will also make the boat seem quite a bit larger.

Don’t forget the hanging lockers while you’re getting your gear off. A locker full of someone else’s aromatic foul-weather jackets or boots isn’t conducive to a sale.

This is also the time to remove anything that doesn’t go with the sale. Too many sales have been halted at the eleventh hour by the question of who gets the $100 barometer. Don’t pillage the boat, but take anything with a personal sentiment and leave the rest. Tip: Take the toaster and electric jug from the galley. They date the boat, make the counters look crowded and are probably dirty too.

5. Fix Her Up.

I’ve always found it amusing that the only time everything works perfectly on my boats is when I put them up for sale. No boat larger than a dinghy sells without a survey these days, so it’s better to fix things before that point. Now is the time to fix that dodgy switch, because Murphy’s Law says a buyer is going to flip that one particular one. Sure, you lived with it, but the buyer only sees an example of poor maintenance. Make sure the fire extinguishers are current, the life jackets legal, and the flares within their expiration dates.

When it comes to the canvas on board, if yours is worn or tired, you have three choices: Remove it, repair it or replace it. To cut your replacement costs, remove anything that isn’t necessary to the sale. A bimini top is expected, so either repair the broken fasteners or, if the top is marginal, replace it.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but make sure the engines start promptly. Many sales have been lost because a battery was drained and the engine wouldn’t fire. Tune the engines and charge the batteries, because you want to impress the buyer with engines that fire instantly. Speaking of engines now would be the time to get them serviced if they are close to being due. Most engines require servicing every twelve months or 100 hours which ever comes first. Remember the purchaser will usually get a professional in to check them and you don’t want any surprises that could impact on your sale. If you had the engines or gear rebuilt professionally, get the receipts and make them available. You need to prove that your engines or generator have a certain number of hours, or that the air conditioning was serviced on this date. Again, this is reassuring to the buyer.

6. Share Her History.

Sure, a boat can sell on its own, but, with a little work, you can add many more dollars to the sale price. Some of the smartest sellers I’ve seen have assembled a folder providing all the details of the boat’s history: upgrades, inventory, systems. Some have included positive magazine reviews of their make and model of boat; others have listed voyages taken. This is, plain and simple, a selling tool. Tip: You might include some ads for similar boats—that are more expensive, of course! It goes without saying.

The same thing applies to photography. I’m always astounded, in this age of digital cameras, that so many brokerage photos look like they were shot with a Polaroid from the ’60s. Get good, well-lit photos of every area of your boat, from saloon, to cabins, to heads. This means the engine room, cockpit, foredeck and, if there is one, the fly bridge. Get detailed shots of the electrical panel and electronics, and don’t forget the tender, too. Also take photos of the faults being honest and upfront. If the buyer finds a problem, it’s perceived to be that they found a reason to ask for money off (And they will).  However, if you present the issue upfront, there is more of an assumption that this issue must already be factored into your price, which is exactly how you should frame it.

7. Price Her Right.

This is probably the most important, and the one thing most get wrong!

People don’t realize it, but there are, of course, three prices: the seller’s price, the buyer’s price and the fair market value. Your starting point should be the market value, because owners invariably overvalue their boats due to their emotional attachment to them and how much it has cost them over the years. If you pay to put new tyres on a $5000.00 car it’s still a $5000.00 car but its more appealing to more prospective buyers. See what similar boats with similar equipment are selling for, and then price yours accordingly. You don’t want to be on the market for months—you want to be on your new, or new to you, boat.

You can’t do anything about the buyer’s idea of the price, but if he or she makes an offer fairly close to what you’re asking, grab the money and run. You can make up any difference when you buy your next boat. Experienced yacht brokers shake their heads with tales of clients who held out for a few bucks more and lost a sale, only to have their boats languish for months longer on the market then sell for less than the original offer. No, you shouldn’t take a bath on your boat, but be smart about it. Buyers invariably ask why you are selling. Well, for money stupid! But you can't say that. Lifestyle changes are the best answer. Say you want to try cruising and can't do it in an open boat, your kids don't go with you anymore so you don't need a ski boat, you don't fish offshore anymore so a downsize is in order, whatever.

What’s Your Best Price?

I cringe every time I hear this, and you should too because it means you have just encountered someone (More than likely) who is ready to play hardball before ever bothering to look at your boat. Most of the people that drop this out of the gate are shopping for more boat than they can afford, that’s why it’s more important of a question than anything that might tell them if the boat is in good condition or not.

A bit of advice that isn’t sure fire for closing a deal, but it will save you time and money:  Don’t make it a habit to dignify this question with a discount. They haven’t seen to the boat, they haven’t run the boat and they haven’t even shaken your hand and introduced themselves. What have they done to deserve an upfront discount?  What I say when someone asks me this question upfront is this: “I am more than willing to negotiate a better price, but I can’t really do that until you have seen the boat.  What if you find something wrong that I missed?  What if something decides to break right now?  Then you would be asking me to knock the price down again off your already discounted amount wouldn’t you?”

Many people understand what’s fair and what’s not, so setting up that you are willing to negotiate your price but that you are just trying to keep it fair for everyone, usually weeds out the people who just can’t afford your boat vs those who are serious.

8. Enjoy.

This is a boat you’ve enjoyed, and now it’s time for her to go to a new owner so they can as well. This shouldn’t feel like going ten rounds with Mike Tyson. It should be a good time for both you and the purchaser. Anything with a high price tag that you’re selling or purchasing comes with some element of stress hopefully these tips help alleviate some of it for you

Remember: There is always someone out there who wants your boat.

After all, you did, didn’t you!

A bit about us.

Gold Coast Boatz is one of the premiere Gold Coast Boat Sales organisations we operate from the beautiful Queensland's Gold Coast. With over 15 years of Marine industry sales experience whether you're buying or selling we will provide you with first class personal service and professional advice.

Update 26/03/2020

50% Off

As the world struggles with limiting the health impacts of Covid-19, the economic damage is escalating. It is a time for all people to work together to ensure that at the end of the crisis we still have a functioning small business sector.  For the next 3 months we will offer all sellers a 50% discount on our existing commission fees. This will apply to any boats we list from today until 30th June 2020. Go to for more details. Stay healthy and stay safe Gold Coast Boatz

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