How to Maximize Your Boat’s Resale Value

Boat Resale Value

When it’s time to sell your boat, you obviously want the best possible price for it. Of course your boat will only sell for as much as a buyer is willing to pay for it, no matter what the listings say it’s worth.

Your job then is to make your boat as desirable as possible to convince buyers to pay what it’s worth, what you think it’s worth, or maybe even more than it’s worth! Here are some tips for maximizing the resale value of your boat.

Keep Maintenance Up to Date

The best way to maximize the value of your boat is to regularly clean and service it from the day you buy it. A boat that is mechanically sound needs to look good as well. Washing your boat after every use, and polishing and waxing it several times a year can keep it like new even after you’ve owned it for a decade or longer.

Similarly, a sterndrive or outboard motor that has been regularly serviced will look clean and perform like it needs to for maximum resell value. If you’ve cared for your boat since day one, you should have no problem setting and getting a good price when it comes time to sell it.

Plan Ahead

Getting the best value for your boat involves a solid sales strategy. People are more inclined to buy boats at the start of the boating season. Demand for boats is usually highest at the beginning of spring and summer, so make sure to plan for the best time of year to advertise your boat. When setting an asking price, start by looking up the NADA and BUC values. Also, check out local marinas and classified ads to see what the going prices are for similar boats in your area.

Even if you think your boat is worth more than what it’s valued at, setting an unreasonable asking price is setting yourself up for failure. Prospective buyers will likely scoff at your dollar amount if they see similar boats advertised for much less, so do your research before putting a sticker price on it.

Make Pre-Sale Shakedowns

Smart buyers will inspect every inch of your boat looking for any flaws they can use against you to bring down the price. It’s a lot easier to minimize haggling if the buyer can’t find any problems with your boat, so find and fix any issues before putting it up for sale. A good way to identify problems is to do a shakedown. Switch on every piece of equipment; check every bit of rigging; open every compartment; and give everything a thorough inspection.

Check everything from the oil and coolant levels to each and every light switch and lock. Make a list of anything that needs maintenance, repairing or replacing, and take care of it before you advertise.

Clean your Boat Thoroughly

First impressions are everything, so make sure your boat looks as immaculate as possible at first glance. Clean your boat thoroughly from bow to stern, and remove any traces of dirt. Scrub the entire the topside and hull.

Make sure any carpeting is spotless. If you have a galley, empty all the cupboards to make them look more spacious, and clean all the appliances. Empty and clean all compartments and live wells. Remove any water or oil from the bilge, then clean it with bilge cleaners and air it out to remove any bad smells. If you have holding tanks, empty those too. Clean and polish the engine, especially an outboard’s cowling and powerhead.
Mildew-covered vinyl seats are also a huge buyer deterrent, so wash them with vinyl cleaner to remove mold and mildew, or replace them entirely if they’re beyond cleaning.

Polish and Wax your Boat

Polishing and waxing your boat after cleaning it is the next logical step. Use polish to remove small blemishes and shine surfaces. Add a couple of coats of marine wax to captivate prospective buyers from the moment they first lay eyes on your prized vessel. Don’t forget to clean all metal rails, cleats and fittings with metal polish as well.

Inspect Canvas Enclosures and Bimini Tops

Worn out canvasses make a bad impression, and can turn-off potential buyers. Faded colors, rips and tears, and yellowed window panels are all eyesores that will turn potential buyers away. If the canvas is relatively new, you might be able to get away with just washing it, but otherwise you should replace it altogether. Canvassed enclosures and Bimini tops typically have a lifespan of about five years, so don’t compromise the resale value of your boat by keeping a worn canvas or top attached. If your boat doesn’t have a Bimini top or other kind of shade/weather protection canvas, now would be a good time to get one.

Service the Motor

After your outboard motor, sterndrive or inboard looks clean and tidy, make sure it runs as nice as it looks. Give the motor a thorough service, including changing the oil and lubricants and replacing any worn parts before even attempting to sell your boat.

Remove All Clutter

You might think personal items add a nice touch, but you want a prospective buyer to visualize the boat as if it were brand new. Remove all decor and personalization from your boat before showing it. Empty all compartments to make them appear as spacious as possible. When a potential buyer looks around, you want them to be able to picture what the boat would look like as theirs, not as yours!

Improve Perceived Value

Replacing old equipment or making upgrades will help make your boat a lot more appealing and thus, easier to sell. Invest in any upgrades, big and small, that will help you justify the asking price for your boat. For example, you may not recoup the entire cost of an upgrade for something like a new hydraulic steering system that adds a $1,700 value to the sale price. However, the attraction of hydraulic steering alone might persuade potential buyers to agree to your asking price, so the investment would be worth it.

Cosmetic or aesthetic improvements can also enhance a boat’s perceived value, which will improve your chances of a quick sale. LED lighting kits, for example, are an inexpensive upgrade that could make your boat stand out to a night owl buyer. One way to offset the cost of improvements is to purchase them several months to a year before you actually sell your boat. That way, you get to enjoy the upgrades you invested in for a season, and they’ll still be new and up-to date when it comes time to sell your boat.

Ensure Quality Workmanship 

If you do have repair work done or install any improvements prior to selling your boat, make sure the workmanship is perfect. For example, a badly installed teak deck tells prospective buyers that you don’t care too much about your boat, making them lose confidence in its overall upkeep and condition.

Keep in mind too that a boat is only as good as its owner, so make sure you have quality work done to reflect well on you as a legitimate seller.

Prepare for Demonstration Runs

Be ready for a prospective buyer to insist on a test ride. You might get the occasional fake buyer just looking for a free joyride, so use your judgment and only take out potential buyers you feel are serious. Keep demonstration runs short, and for your security, never take a prospective buyer out for a ride without a trusted confidant to accompany you on demo runs with strangers.

Keep Dockside Appeal in Mind

The location of the boat largely contributes to a potential buyer’s first impressions. A boat stored at a clean, secure marina or yacht club is more likely to sell than one moored at a musty old dock. Relocate your boat to a well-kept facility, even if it means spending more on fees. Also, think about how to position your boat before a prospect comes to view it. Know whether your boat looks better from the bow or the stern, and moor it accordingly so the buyer sees the best angle first.

Hire a Boat Broker

Typically a boat broker gets about 10% of the final selling price, but their commission can be worth it. A broker is likely to secure a higher dollar amount for your boat than what you would get on your own. Factor in the time and hassle a broker will save you in dealing with prospects, including screening qualified buyers and showing them around. Do your research and hire a reputable boat broker with a solid reputation through both online and word-of-mouth reviews. Local brokers worth their salt will use their vast marketing resources to get the best possible price, and their cut will be worth paying for if they broker the kind of deal you couldn’t pull off on your own.

Selling Your Boat

Buying a boat is a big investment, and so is reselling it. The more time and resources you invest into preparing your boat for a sale, the more you’ll maximize its value and the easier it’ll be to sell. And of course, the more money you’ll get back for it when it’s time to bid your boat farewell!



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