The process explained and some great advice on selling....
Whether you're looking to change your boat or it's simply time to sell your boat, we've put together a useful reminder of the process along with some top tips from some of the UK's top Boat Brokers.
Where can I sell my boat..?
We hear this question a lot at Boat Central, and our advice is to always use a professional Boat Broker. They will be able to attract the right buyer for your boat and manage the sales process on your behalf.
Many Boat Brokers in the UK belong to Associations such as the British Marine Boat Retailers and Brokers Association (BRBA), or the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents' (ABYA). These associations have strict codes of practive in place for their members.
A professional Boat Broker will have a good knowledge, a strong customer database of potential buyers and a proven track record in boat sales. It's a high value item that you're selling, and by developing a good relationship with your Boat Broker based on trust, communication and advice you'll get the best results.
If you are looking to purchase another boat, it's worth talking to Boat Brokers before you place your boat on the market as some could consider part-exchange on your existing boat.
You may already have an idea of the approximate value of your boat, but it's always wise to ask a Boat Broker for their professional opinion.
You might be surprised to hear that they have sold similar boats for a higher price than you were expecting. Alternatively, they may be able to correct any over ambitious expectations with examples of similar boats and their recent selling prices. Either way, it stands to reason that a Boat Broker will know far more about the boat market and what boat buyers are currently prepared to pay.
Your preferred timescale to achieve a sale is also an important consideration. The quickest sale and highest price rarely go hand-in-hand, and whilst higher prices can be achievable if you have the time to wait, it's worth remembering that your existing boat is still costing you money as it remains unsold.
Pricing can feel like a balancing act, but a Boat Broker will be able to advise on current supply and demand to help you make the right decision.
The valuation stage is a good time to let a Boat Broker know about any problems or issues with your boat as they can factor this into the valuation. A marine surveyor will pick up on any faults, but if a buyer is already aware of them and understands the valuation has been altered to reflect these issues, there's a far better chance the sale will proceed.
The Sales and Marketing Process
When you instruct a Boat Broker to sell your boat, they will begin by preparing a boat specification, which is basically the sales literature. This should list all the poignant selling features along with dimensions and include good quality images, videos or virtual tours. Boat Central customers say they make more enquiries for boats with good quality images so it's really important to get this right.
Your Boat Broker will also want to know about the ownership details of your boat and whether VAT has been paid. Most of us already have a "boat pack" that contains items such as the bills of sale, RCD certificates and VAT evidence, so it's good to have these at hand when further information is required. They will also find it useful to know about any manuals, servicing records and warranties that can be passed on to the new owner.
If you are not intending to buy another boat and plan to leave some "extras" on-board for the new owners, we'd suggest you don't include these until you reach the negotiation stage. Extra's such as safety or technical equipment can be useful negotiation tools.
Once the boat specification has been prepared, your Boat Broker will upload the details of your boat to the boat sales portals they use. If their offices allow, they will also display your boat and have copies of the boat specification available for customers.
Boat Brokers will have a database of potential buyers who they will contact by phone and email. This is the stage when they will be encouraging viewings.
In an ideal world a Boat Broker would conduct all viewings of your boat. It avoids you developing any kind of relationship with the prospective buyer that could be disruptive during negotiations. Buyers are more likely to engage with a Boat Broker and ask the questions they want to know on a viewing. Your Boat Broker will be able to provide the answers, give examples of other boats they have sold and state the reasons why the customer should consider yours. If you do conduct viewings yourself, we recommend you keep it polite, sell the lifestyle you've enjoyed on the boat and direct any of the viewers questions back to the Boat Broker.
Agreeing a Sale
With any high-value sale or purchase where negotiation is expected, the negotiation is often the toughest moment - which is why it's really important to have trust in your Boat Broker. They are in a difficult situation as they want to achieve the highest price for you, but they also don't want to lose a buyer who they feel could be the best buyer in the market for your boat. All too often negotiations can become personal between the buyer and seller, but don't shoot the person in the middle as they really are doing their best..!
When a mutually acceptable price has been agreed, you will need to provide the Boat Broker with all relevant documentation if you haven't already done so. Once they are in receipt of this they will draft a sales contract. The sales contract should incorporate all acceptance clauses, agreed inclusions, timescales, deposits, trials, surveys and completion details. It is normal practice for a deposit to be taken from the purchaser at this stage which should be held in the Boat Brokers dedicated client account.
Following the signing of the contract and payment of the deposit, a boat demonstration is then arranged (it not already done) and subsequently a survey is booked. When the results of the survey are received your Boat Broker will liaise with the purchaser and then report the findings to you. If there is anything adverse in the survey results they will advise how the purchaser wishes to proceed and explain what your best options are.
The process from accepting an offer to the clearing of funds will generally take between 7 and 28 days.
Your Boat Broker will collect the balance of the funds on your behalf and upon clearance, make any necessary disbursements before transferring the sales proceeds into your designated bank account.
A complete handover of the boat should be arranged on your behalf, and at this stage the Boat Broker will pass over all the title paperwork to the new owner.
How You Can Improve the Selling Potential
We work with many award winning Boat Brokers in the UK and here are some of their top tips for people looking to sell their boats.
1. Make a first impression with the exterior appearance of your boat. This could be replacing a ripped fender sock, or repairing a tear in the canvas. As the potential purchaser walks towards your boat, they're already forming an opinion.
2. Attend to all those niggles that only you know about such as; cover fasteners that take your fingers off, or the seal that comes away every time you open a hatch. Whilst these may seem trivial things, the buyer doesn't want to see the Boat Broker struggling with them on a viewing.
3. Most boats have what can only be described as a "smell of their own". A few well place air fresheners can help with this. Even better, if you're local to your boat and there's time for your Boat Broker to notify you of a viewing, quickly pop down, air the boat or pop the heating on for a while depending on the time of year.
4. Clear the surfaces, stow away any kit and remove the deck shoes that have past their "sell by date". A feeling of space gives the buyer the sense that they are getting a lot for their buck.
5. Boating is a lifestyle and we want to sell that lifestyle. A few simple tweaks such as plumped cushions in the saloon, a bottle of fizz in the galley, or an interesting book on a table will show the viewer that your boat provides that lifestyle.
6. Cabins with bare mattresses hold less appeal than cabins with neatly made beds. Cabins are often the compromise on boats, so if you can get them looking good you've halved the problem. Consider how Boat Brokers display cabins at boat shows and why there's always a "Please Do Not Sit" sign on the beds.
7. Heads compartments are often another compromise on a boat. It may sound odd, but many buyers will look at the toiletries on display before looking at the facilities. It's all about the towels, toiletries and air freshners.
8. Cleaning the outside of the boat regularly or employing a gardiennage/valet company to maintain a clean water line and a seagull free exterior will make your boat stand out from the rest, especially if you're selling during the winter months.
It doesn't have to cost to a lot of money, but with a little elbow grease and a few lifestyle touches, you'll give yourself the best chance of achieving the best sale.