How to Prepare to List and Sell Your Boat

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How to Prepare to List and Sell Your Boat

Imagine two boats for sale. 

On paper, they’re virtually identical. They’re the same make, model, and year. They’re similarly equipped with all the usual bells, whistles, and gear. And they’re priced within a few thousand dollars of one another.

One sells quickly, shortly after listing with a broker. The other sits languishing at the dock for weeks…months…or even years.

What makes the difference?

Why would a buyer choose one boat over the other?

The answer is simple – yet complex.

Gerald Zaltman, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Business School, says that 95 percent of our decision to make a purchase occurs in the subconscious mind – where we make lightning-fast mini-decisions based on the data we get from our senses. 

So how do you reach the subconscious mind of a potential buyer when getting your boat ready to sell? 

It all comes down to emotional appeal driven by sensory input.

What does your boat look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? How does it feel? What needs to be fixed or repaired? How does it make your potential buyer feel? Is it easy for a buyer to imagine the boat as theirs?

In other words, to get your boat ready to list and sell, you need to work to create and manage the sensory and emotional impressions that makes the buyer feel good about buying it. 

And remember, in yacht sales just like in life, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Here’s how to make sure your boat makes the kind of first impression that leads to a successful sale. 

First, create a plan.

It can be overwhelming to consider everything that needs to be done to get your boat ready to list for sale. A master checklist can help you reduce the feeling of stress and overwhelm, and guide you systematically through the tasks.

  • Create a page, a worksheet, or a spreadsheet for each area of your boat: decks, cockpit, lazarette, salon, heads, staterooms, pilothouse, hull, engine room, and so forth. 
  • Walk through each area of your boat with your list in hand, and take note of what needs to be done.
  • Based on your work list for each area, set priorities for each item as follows:
  1. Must-do, essential for operational, security, or safety reasons.
  2. Nice to do, would enhance the emotional appeal of the boat.
  3. Want to do, but not necessarily important to the overall look and feel of the boat.
  • Make a note of who is going to take care of each item: you, your crew, a hired contractor or other professional.
  • Set a deadline for the completion of each item on your list, and check it off as it gets done.

Checklist in hand, it’s time to get to work.

Make sure everything is in good working order.

Go through every single system in each area of the boat, from light switches, zippers on canvas, faucets, and stereo equipment to bow thrusters, main engines, and generators to make sure everything starts up and works right the first time.

  • Check mooring lines, ground tackle, davits, windlasses, winches, dinghies, outboards, electronics, depth sounders, GPS systems, and every other piece of mechanical, electric, or electronic equipment on your boat.
  • Make any necessary repairs before you show the boat. Fix or replace what you can easily fix or replace, and hire help for what you can’t do yourself.
  • Make sure your engine(s) are tuned and aligned and that your props and shafts are true, so potential buyers experience as smooth and quiet a ride as possible.
  • Although a survey is usually done in the final part of the sales process, consider doing it before listing your boat, so you have a comprehensive list of items to correct.
  • Before showing the boat or taking it out for a test run, top off the fuel, change the oil, check the batteries, empty and clean the holding tank, and make sure there’s plenty of fresh water in your tanks.

Enhance your boat’s “dock appeal.”

Go over the exterior of your boat with a critical eye. Clean, wax, and polish everything until it gleams.

  • Make any necessary cosmetic repairs. Fill in and professionally match any dings in the gelcoat, repair cracks in the caulking, remove stains on the deck.
  • Give any exterior brightwork a fresh coat or two of varnish.
  • Replace worn dock lines, frayed canvas, broken fasteners, degraded fenders, shabby  welcome mats, and other external accessories.
  • Remove or stow anything that makes the decks appear cluttered.
  • Clean windows, portholes, and portlights.
  • Polish all stainless, chrome, or brass, including hatch hinges, anchor housing, boarding ladders, tank caps, etc.

Make your boat interior inviting.

Image 0560: Make your yacht interior inviting for faster saleOnce your potential buyers step inside, they will actively begin to imagine what it would “feel” like to make this boat their own. Make it easy for them to feel at home.

  • Clear off, dust, and wipe down countertops, tabletops, shelves, and other flat surfaces.
  • De-clutter and remove personal items and anything that you’re not going to include in the sale.
  • Clean and polish the oven, stove, sink, and refrigerator/freezer.
  • Clean the carpet, upholstery, and drapes/curtains.
  • Wipe down bulkheads and headliner.
  • Open curtains, shades, or draperies to enhance the feeling of light and space.
  • Highlight the impression of roominess and storage potential by remove any non-essential items from cupboards and cabinets. Consider a fresh coat of white paint for cupboard interiors.
  • Make sure the boat smells fresh – cinnamon sticks, potpourri, a flower arrangement, or lemon peel can help.
  • Consider playing soft music while showing your boat to create a calm, inviting mood.

Clean the “hidden” spaces.

Once potential buyers begin opening hatches and exploring the guts of mechanical and technical spaces, they’re getting serious. Make sure everything below decks is clean, organized, and free of clutter.

  • Sweep and clean engine room spaces, paying attention to any obvious stains or spills.
  • Check bilges to make sure they are clean, dry, and odor-free. Consider a fresh coat of bilge paint.
  • Remove spare tools, boxes or buckets of cleaning or maintenance supplies, extra lines, or anything else that makes your below-decks spaces seem cluttered.

Partner with a qualified, professional broker.

Regardless of your reasons for selling your boat, you don’t have to do it alone. 

Working with a qualified, professional brokerage like InterMarine Boats, you’re partnered with a dedicated team of professionals who will walk with you through every step of the process from listing to sale.

  • First, one of our brokers will do an initial walk-through and visual inspection with you, resulting in a market study and value assessment to help strategize your boat sale.
  • Next, we’ll do a more in-depth component and mechanical inspection to help get your boat ready for an eventual buyer’s survey.
  • We’ll prepare a professional listing, that includes thoughtful pictures and thorough descriptions of your boat and its specifications.
  • We’ll work with your priorities and motivations to develop the best strategy to sell your boat fast.
  • Our aggressive marking strategy includes a custom website, print media, a strong online presence from multiple MLS sites, mail outs, email campaigns, and social media marketing through Facebook and Instagram. 

We have a strong customer base from our existing brokerage. But we also have a large and growing base of leads and prospects drawn from the 7 new boat lines we represent and stock, including Prestige Yachts.

Since 2012, we’ve been the certified Prestige Yachts dealer for Florida’s east coast, the Bahamas, and the Yucatán, and we’re proud to serve our loyal Prestige clients. Our brokerage currently features several quality pre-owned Prestige Yachts on consignment, in case you’re ready to trade up. 

2014 Prestige Yachts 500 Fly - The original favorite

2015 Prestige Yachts 550 Fly - Only one owner and Captain-kept

2015 Prestige Yachts 550 Fly - Tender included!

2016 Prestige Yachts 550S Coupe - Spotless yacht for those seeking a sportier profile

Regardless of your reasons for selling your boat, we’d be delighted to work with you.

Visit InterMarine Boats today at any of our 4 South Florida locations to schedule an introductory walk through of your boat. You may also email us, fill out the contact form, or call us directly at the yacht sales store nearest you.