How to Get Top Dollar For Your Boat

When it’s time to sell your boat, of course you want to yield the best possible price. In today’s market boats are in high demand, but there are a lot of variables that can still influence how much a buyer is willing to pay. You want to be sure the boat is in top shape. You want gauge the market to assign an appropriate value and list it at a time where values are high. You need to be sure you’re available to meet buyers when you’ve captured their attention, and that you can convey how well you took care of the boat. You should have all the paperwork in order before, during and post-transaction. And you want to choose the most effective advertising to reach your target audience.

Top dollar
Don’t expect to sell for top dollar unless you’ve optimized the boat to best possible condition.

Prepare your boat for sale

A buyer is going to want you to hand over the keys to a cared for, well-maintained, seaworthy vessel.

Your boat should have pre-sale maintenance with a documented bill of health, be decluttered of personal items, cleaned, well-photographed and primed for a sea trial before you even list it. This checklist will ensure your boat is ready to earn you top dollar.

Check your boat’s real-time value and check out the competition

We recommend starting with a baseline value.

We recommend starting with a baseline value. You can use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guide for Boats tool. By inputting location, condition, optional accessories, engine and engine hours, this tool gives you a great starting point before factoring in things like aftermarket accessories and upgrades. Be sure to comb the local listings too: online marketplaces, flyers, newspaper ads, and of course our website. See what others are charging for comparable boats. Here are some more tips on how to value your boat for sale.

Time the sale accordingly

If netting the greatest profit is your goal, be willing to let go of your boat just ahead of high season.

While you might want to ride out the entire summer aboard your boat, while you’re hauling it out of the water, many boat buyers have also hung up their boat ownership dream until next year. Even in year-round boating regions, springtime is always the most popular time to sell your boat. In 2020 we saw Q2 boat sales up almost 75% from the year before. 2021 is showing even more records broken by dealers, with industry manufacturers and dealers showing net sales growth in the 40%-65% range. Need or want to turn that boat into cash now? Don’t fret— due to the overwhelming current demand, boat sales will be historically higher at any time of any recent previous year, and selling when there are fewer boats available might still be matched with this unprecedented demand. And if you need to sell it even sooner, you can always consider a Boats for Sale cash offer.

Close up of boat owner in cockpit of vessel outfitted with modern boating accessories and electronics
Bond with the buyer over a sea trial and pass on the passion you have for that boat.

Be sure you’ve got the right documentation

So even before you’ve shaken hands, the more documentation you can use to show your boat’s health and history, the better.

A well-organized file that includes the original manufacturer’s warranty documentation, owner’s manuals, maintenance reports, receipts for accessories, parts and upgrades will all de-risk the purchase for your buyer and prompt them to make you a competitive offer.

Be available to meet them at their convenience

Sharing the experience of being out on the water will foster camaraderie with the right buyer.

Boating is a lifestyle, and the relationship you have with your boat is emotional. When it’s time to sell your boat, set aside time where you can be ready and available to offer walkthroughs to customers while you have their attention. Whenever possible, offer a sea trial. In addition to their experiencing the balance, agility and ride that is unique to your boat, that bonding time can go a long way when it’s time to negotiate. 

Find the buyer where they’re searching

How are you advertising your boat for sale?  

How are you advertising your boat for sale? With a For Sale sign on its windshield as it’s out on a trailer in your driveway? Flyers up at the dock work too. Local newspapers. But those methods, and even online listing opportunities like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace aren’t customized for boat selling. That’s part of how we came to create Boats for Sale. Between the traditional sales tactics and the non-custom, monotonous online boat marketplace that also requires you to pay in order for your listing to be seen at all, there needed to be a better option. Our listings are free, easy to use, and are targeted directly to qualified buyers who come to us for a full-service online boat buying experience and an enjoyable, intuitive interface. Check it out for yourself and then once your boat is ready, start your listing right here.

By following all these boat seller best practices, you’re positioning yourself to get top dollar for your boat, and a feeling of pride and confidence that you’ve sent the boat off to its next owner in great shape, poised for new adventures.