Boat Buying/Selling Tips, Part 1 – Quimby's Cruising Guide

Boat Buying/Selling Tips, Part 1

If 2013 means a boat acquisition or sale for you, I’d like to share some tips that we’ve found helpful and useful for our brokerage clients over the years. We’ll look at this transaction from the both the seller’s and buyer’s side.

Many people don’t realize that in addition to our Yacht Charter Company, Sailing School and Power Boating School, Vic and I are also licensed Yacht Brokers. In nearly 30 years of assisting customers with buying and selling boats, we’ve seen almost everything. If you plan to sell your boat, here are some suggestions for you:

  • Recognize there are three prices: the seller’s price, the buyer’s, and the real price or fair market value. Circumstances may dictate other factors, but these three are always present.

  • Be sure to maintain the vessel while it’s for sale. It should be clean and inviting. Just because you want to sell the boat doesn’t mean you should forget about it. Consider hiring a professional detailer to get the boat in “show” condition.

  • Vessels in service are better to show and survey. Boats that are hauled out in the yard or shrink-wrapped will be more difficult to show. Therefore, they’ll be slow to sell. Having the boat in the water and “ready to go” makes a good impression.

  • Personal items and equipment not being sold with the boat should be removed from the vessel. Also, remove all clutter from the boat.

  • Non-working equipment is a liability. Fix it or have it removed from the vessel. Be honest with your broker about anything that’s not working properly.

  • All safety equipment should be serviceable, updated and certified as required. (Be sure to check those flares in the back of the locker!)

  • A competent captain is a must for sea trials. While the seller is responsible for providing the captain, the seller should not be the skipper. An independent and professional captain is your best option.

  • The vessel’s bilge should be clean. A nicely painted bilge is not necessary but is certainly a plus. A clean bilge will go a long way toward making the boat smell clean.

  • Be sure to treat all mildew, oil and head smells properly. A good-smelling boat will be much more welcoming to a potential buyer.

  • Don’t paint over everything, especially in the engine room. Even new paint will not cover up problems with the boat. Address the problem at the source.

  • If the engine(s) is/are claimed to be re-built, it must be logged and certified.

The seller should not be involved in the process, especially if he or she is personally attached to the vessel. Have a professional broker handle the sale.

If your plans for the year include a vessel purchase, here are some questions we ask prospective buyers who engage our services:

  • What is the budget range for your vessel?

  • What type of vessel are you looking for?

  • What boating experience do you have?

  • What are your mechanical and maintenance abilities?

  • Where do you plan to use your boat?

  • Do you prefer single or twin engine power? Gas or diesel?

  • What length or range of length are you seeking in your vessel?

  • How about accommodations: number of cabins and berths?

  • What are “must have” features on your vessel?

  • Do you have a design preference?

  • Is your financing in order, or do you wish the assistance of your broker?

By the way, there’s no such thing as a “deal” on a boat. You get what you pay for! Either you pay the money up front for a nice, clean vessel or you buy one that “needs work” and you write checks for the repairs later.

In Part II of our series, next month, we’ll discuss the benefits of using a yacht broker. We highly recommend a broker for sales and purchases of boats 30 feet or larger. Whether you’re buying or selling a vessel, a good broker can be a lifesaver and can save you both money and headaches.

This is another in a series of personal reflections about the boating life by Barb Hansen, co-founder and manager with husband, Vic Hansen, of Southwest Florida Yachts, N. Fort Myers, Fla. Southwest Florida Yachts charters luxury trawlers and sailing vessels. Southwest Florida Yachts Sales and Brokerage Services helps you find the ideal vessel for you to own. Florida Sailing & Cruising School provides live-aboard sail and power yacht instruction. Contact Barb Hansen at or phone 1-239-656-1339. © 2013. Southwest Florida Yachts. All rights reserved.

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