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10 things to consider when selling a boat

Updated: Jan 5

Unlock valuable tips and strategies to optimise your selling experience and achieve the best possible outcomes.

selling a boat sydney at empire marina

Hopefully, you're selling your boat because you want to buy another boat. Selling a boat can be daunting and time-consuming process.

One of the biggest challenges in selling a boat is differentiating between the ‘fender-kickers’ and the genuine buyers. One of the first decisions that you will have to make is whether you wish to sell your boat privately or through a marine broker.

Marine brokers typically charge a fee which is it percentage of the sale price of the boat. For this fee they manage the whole process of sale on your behalf. Once you're made the decision to sell your boat you will want to reduce the ongoing cost of ownership as quickly as possible. Using a reputable marine broker is a cost-effective and time effective way of selling your boat.

Let's look at 10 key things to consider to get the most out of your boat sales process.

1. Appointing a marine broker

Marine brokers are experts in selling boats, they understand the market and they know how to attract buyers and how to close sales. They know how to navigate the process of buyers survey and how to resolve any issues that arise in the process. They have databases of boats and buyers and know what marketing channels work for particularly types of boats. They charge fees based on performance and can often assist in reducing your costs of ongoing ownership during the sales process as part of the fee. Empire Boat Sales, for example offers special berthing deals for brokerage clients which both provides increased exposure to the boat and reduced storage costs for the boat owner.

Reputable boat brokers are members of the Boating Industry Association and Marine Brokers Association. These brokers adhere to a code of practice and provide you with advice and assistance in helping you achieve a boat that meets your needs. The broker undertakes the PPSR checks, provides formalised sales contract documentation (which assists in purchaser boat finance applications) and co-ordinates the survey process conducted by the buyers on your behalf.

BIA member for selling a boat sydney

2. Setting the right price for your boat

Marine brokers understand the market. They know within a reasonably tight range how much a boat is worth, what it should be listed for and how much it should sell for. Human nature dictates that sellers often overestimate the value of the boat and buyers have unrealistic expectations of how much boat their money will buy.

The key factors that influence price are competition, popularity and market awareness of the brand and model, required rate of sale, response to inquiries and access for inspection. A marine broker’s portfolio of sales provides excellent guidance to market pricing along with research into current market competition.

Prospective sellers should have a sensible conversation with their broker about their realistic net return from the sale of the boat. From that point the price to market can be set and this may include a margin for negotiation depending on the required rate of sale.

3. Presenting the boat for sale

prepare your boat for sale

One of the keys to success in selling a boat is its presentation for both photographs and inspections. Boats need to sell the boating dream. Prospective purchasers need to be able to imagine how your boat will deliver their vision of the future boating lifestyle. As such, the boat should be decluttered and de-personalised so that it will appeal to the widest audience and be styled to enhance its feel.

It is important that purchasers feel that they could just let go of the lines and sail off into the sunset to start living their boating dream.

4. Where is the boat?

boat sales tips - where is your boat ?

The more readily accessible a boat is, the easier it will be to sell. Boats on moorings some distance from the brokerage office are much more difficult to service than boats on marinas outside the brokerage office. Likewise, boats presented at the brokers marina are on display to other boat owners within the marina and their friends, who are clearly a target audience.

A surprisingly large number of boats are sold within marinas to existing boat owners looking to trade up. The logistics of showing boats stored remotely from the broker and particularly on moorings substantially reduces the number of inspections that can realistically be undertaken on the vessel. Whereas, vessels displayed in brokerage berths adjoining the brokerage office are readily available for inspection consequently increasing the rate of sale.

5. Service history and documentation

Buying a complex product like a boat is about confidence. A boat that is well presented, is in good condition and provides detailed documented service history along with original operating manuals and specifications gives buyers confidence that the boat has been cared for. At the same time, providing this information to your broker enables the online and advertised specifications to be accurate and comprehensive giving the market further confidence in the quality of your boat.

boat sales sydney - boat service history

During the survey process the service history will assist the marine mechanic in understanding the level of maintenance that has been applied to the marine engines. Where service recommendations have been followed there is a greater chance of a positive outcome from the survey process.

6. Full disclosure is best.

boat sales sydney - boat servicing

Is your boat fully working?

Are there mechanical, electrical or other issues that will arise during survey or sea-trial? If these issues exist it is important to discuss these with your marine broker to work out a strategy going forward.

A decision can then be made as to whether the works are performed prior to sale or are disclosed as part of the sale.

Failure to disclose these issues will most likely lead to a sale falling over and a poor reputation for the vessel as the issue would have been uncovered by marine surveyor or marine mechanic who work for many purchasers and may be called upon to survey your boat again….

7. Sea trial policy when selling a boat

boat sales sydney- sea trial - yes or no?

Looking at boats can be fun.

There are no shortage of ‘fender-kickers’ who like to spend their time looking at boats without a genuine interest to buy.

Experienced marine brokers can usually identify these people and deal with them politely. There are some people who even seek demonstration of the vessel or ‘boat ride’ prior to making an offer to purchase. (this is quite a challenging process if you're looking to sell your boat privately)

Experienced marine brokers implement the sea trial policy where sea trials are only conducted following the acceptance of the offer to purchase in writing by the seller. Offers to purchase are typically subject to satisfactory survey outcomes and the sea trial forms part of that survey process. This protects the interests of the seller and at the same time insures genuine purchases are given the time and assistance required to give effect to the sale.

8. Be available to your broker

As the old saying goes, time is money. In this modern world purchasers expect responses to inquiries almost immediately. With web inquiry, email and mobile phones successful brokers don't just operate during normal business hours. Most inquiries by boat purchasers occur in the evenings and on weekends.

Commensurately negotiations in relation to boat sales often occur in the evenings and on weekends and the deals can happen quickly. As such, it is very important that you remain available to your broker.

If you are going away is also important to ensure that you have ready means of communication and the ability for to sign the documents on your behalf should a sale be achieved. This could, for instance, be in the form of a power of attorney given to your solicitor.

This will go along way to ensuring that you don't miss a sale.

boat sales sydney - empire marina bobbin head

If you are considering storing your boat on a marina you should check out our e-book “20 things to consider when choosing a marina”

9. When selling a boat - list with one boat broker

Inexperienced sellers are often tempted to list their boat with multiple brokers as they feel this will give them the greatest chance to sell the boat. In reality, the opposite is almost always true. Where a boat is listed with multiple brokers the online presence of the boat most often has inconsistent information, and the buyers perception of a multi advertised boat is that the seller is desperate.

list with one boat broker when selling your boat

From the broker's point of view, given that brokerage fees are performance-based, the broker is less likely to commit time and resources to the vessel where it could be sold from under him/her by another broker.

The best strategy is to do your research and choose the broker with whom you have the greatest confidence in meeting your needs.

10. Value for money

boat sales sydney - how much is selling a boat?

You get what you pay for.

Brokerage fees amongst reputable brokers are reasonably consistent across the market.

The key considerations are what is included.

  • Does the brokerage provide free or reduced marina berth fees as part of the package?

  • Are the Broker’s marina berths readily accessible for inspections and are the boats presented on public display?

  • Is the brokerage or marina a destination and are the boats for sale readily identifiable by prospective purchasers?

  • Does the marina within which the brokerage is located have the ability to haul out the vessel for survey requirements?

  • Which of the marketing costs are met by the broker and which are met by the seller?

  • What is the period of exclusivity?

  • It is worth considering all these issues when comparing brokerage fees so that your get the best overall sale outcome.

  • In selling your boat, like most things, it is worth paying for service, convenience and performance.

boat sales sydney at Empire Marina

Boat Brokerage Selection Checklist

Download our Boat Brokerage Checklist, which can be used as a guide for comparing brokerages when considering selling your boat.

Empire Marina for boat sales sydney

To Contact us:

Empire Boat Sales

Bobbin Head Road,

Ku-ring-gai chase National Park

Nth Turramurra NSW 2074

Ph: 02 9457 9011

We look forward to hearing from you!

selling a boat at Empire Marina Sydney - expert in boat sales


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