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How to Sell Your Used Boat

So, the time has come to put your boat on the market. Maybe you want to cash out of your investment to finance a bigger boat. Maybe youre downsizing. Maybe your company is moving you to a place with no boating. (Theres a name for that place: Hell.) No matter why youre planning to sell, here are some time-honored steps to take in order to get aquick sale for a goodprice.

Try to include a shot of your own boat underway. Avoid using brochure or web photos from the manufacturer they dont show a true picture of what youre selling, and buyers will know that. Doug Logan photo.

1. Good-quality digital photos are crucial, and the more, the better.

A poorly-focusedshot of a boat sitting on a trailer with a blue tarp over it will not excite anybody. If possible, use a shot of your boat underway. Some people use promotional photos from the boatbuilder; theyre better than nothing, but they can make a buyer suspicious that youre not showing them the realcondition of your own boatwhich is true, youre not.

Take shots of the boat in and out of the water, from the bow, stern, beam, and quarters. Show the bottom.Take multiple shots of the deck, cockpit, transom area, and accommodations belowdecks, focusing on different features. Take good shots of the engine or engines, helm station, electronics, and installed gear like bilge pumps, toilets, and anchors. Open lockers and take shots of the insides. Wait for good lighting for your photos. Use a flash when necessary (but bright natural light is better). You get the idea: If you were buying a boat instead of selling one, wouldnt you want to see all the details?

2. Clean your boatinside and out.

Before you take pictures,clean up your boat. A boat with shiny gelcoat,polishedaluminumand chromefittings, and a clean bilge will sell faster and for more money than one that looks dingy and dirty. If this were really obvious, there would be no photos of dingy and dirty boats for sale. Trust us;a single weekend of elbow-grease getting these things in order can make thousands of dollars of difference in the sale price of your boat.

Psychologically it can be difficult to spend time working on something youre planning to sell. But a weekend of elbow-grease restoring and shining your boats gelcoat can make an outsize difference in the selling price.

3. Remove your personal items from the boat.

Many sellers assume that because they love to see their fishing gear and crocheted pillows and kids toys and wet bathing suits hanging around the boat, then buyers will too. But theyre wrong. Buyers want to see nothing but clean surfaces, clean cushions, and empty stowage spacesso they can imagine where theyll be putting their own stuff. Those clever signs that have always made you laugh, like Buoys and Gulls over the door to the head, or the Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves? Take em down.

As homey as this galley looks, the photo would be better if it showed a clean sweep and no personal effects: Out with the paper towel roll, the nuts on the counter, the fruit, the dishes in the sink, and so on. If you were a buyer, you would want to imagine how things would be in your own galley. Doug Logan photo.

4. Be specific in your ad language and use builder specifications for all dimensions.

When it comes to writing your ad,leave out the buzz phrasesand be sure to use builder specifications for all dimensions. Usenames when it comes to add-ons and electronics. Not VHF radio, but Icom IC-M504 Marine VHF. Not bilge pump, but Rule 500 Submersible pump with float switch. Not low engine hours, but 420 engine hours. When theres a factor that should enhance the sale, state it simply: Fresh-water use only, or professionally maintained; full maintenance records. If you know something is going to be a problem, but its not something you plan to fix, state it up front; at least it wont be a shock to someone who comes to look at the boat. For moretips on how to write the most effective ads, read How to Write a Classified Ad for Your Boat.

This photo shows a clean bottom with the paint in good shape, well-tended running gear, newly-installed zincs, and a slightly bent trim tab. Bent tabs are common in used boats, and experienced buyers will know that. Usually its not a big deal, but a smart buyer will check the transom area where the tabs are mounted for signs of more serious impact. Also, thats almost certainly a metal rudder (one of a pair), probably bronze. Is there an epoxy barrier coat between those rudders and the copper antifouling paint? Doug Logan photo.

5.Set a realistic price.

From the very beginning, set a realistic price and be ready to back up and defend your number with facts. A good way to zero in on your listing priceis by doing some research in the NADA Guides. For step-by-step instructions on using the NADA Guides for both boats and engines, read Boat Prices with NADA Guides. And be aware ofsome of the search tricks and tacticsthat are particular to online boat-selling. For more on this, readMaking the Most of Online Price Range.

With three different packages to choose from, Boat Trader makes it easy to list your boat for sale for millions to see.

Following these best practices will ultimately speed up the sale of your boat, and probably net you more money in the sale.

If you decide to advertise and sell your boat through Boat Trader, youll be joiningthe biggest boat sales website in the U.S., withmillions of visitors and topGoogle rankings. Once youve decided what you want to say, setting up an ad is straightforward. Follow this link, and youll get to a page that looks like the image aboveshowing different package options for photos, ad run-time, search boost, and more. Just pick the package that works best for you, follow the prompts, fill in the blanks, and youll be all ready to sell your boat. With a clean, well-tended boat, plenty of good-quality photos, and thoughtful writing to attract buyers, you should be able to sell it in no time.

Good luck, and let us know how you do.

Editors Note: A previousversionof this article appeared on Boat Trader in October 2017.