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How to sell your yacht

The used boat market is a crowded place with a bewildering array of options. It encompasses everything from 16-foot runabouts costing little more than pocket change to vast one-off superyachts that have been so fastidiously cared for that they are almost indistinguishable from the day they were delivered. But whichever sector of the market your boat inhabits, selling it for the right price in the right time frame involves more than a grainy snap and an online listing. It involves getting yourself, your boat and your approach properly organised so you can find and engage the buyers who really matter.

Prepare your yacht with the buyer in mind

As any good broker will tell you, the potential buyers of your yacht are looking to commit to an idea; to a lifestyle; to an idyllic vision in their mind’s eye that buying a yacht might enable them to realise – and if you can feed this truth into the sales process, you will often achieve a much faster, more lucrative and more satisfying result. Job number one then is about preparing your yacht so that it taps into the buyer’s aspirations and eradicates any doubt…

Approach your yacht as though viewing it for the first time. Think about its merits and its flaws, consider how it compares to the competition and assess how you might make it more appealing to a potential buyer. Draw up an exhaustive list of any elements that make you stop and think; any elements that cause the slightest moment of doubt or hesitation. And then rather than sweeping them aside in the hope that the buyer won’t notice, be proactive and rigorous in rectifying them.

Clean it thoroughly, bring the servicing up to date and ensure that any safety and maintenance-related chores have been carried out. Then arrange, order and catalogue your receipts, compliance, registration and ownership documents in a dedicated folder. This is partly to show the potential buyer what your boat is all about and partly to give them the confidence that you’re the kind of meticulous owner whose boat is likely to serve them well.

We’ll give it the exposure it deserves

Before your yacht is photographed, you should take care to remove any personal belongings. They reduce the sense of scale, compromise the cleanliness and make a visitor to the boat feel like an imposter, when they ought to feel like they have walked into a place that was always conceived with them in mind. If you think about the way new yachts are exhibited during a show, the lessons are clear. Make it clean, bright and accessible. Make sure the beds are neat, the curtains are open and the cupboards are empty and invest in some fresh flowers and a bottle of wine so your boat feels like an active part of the lifestyle they aim to enjoy. Put it in an enviable position, which taps into the boat’s natural strengths, and photograph it on the kind of day that makes you want to reconsider selling it.

Stage-manage the viewings

When it comes to viewings, pick a day when the weather is good and, if it’s in a working marina, pick a day when activity is at its lightest. Position it on a pleasant pontoon and, if your boat is being sold with a mooring, make it welcoming. It is the buyer’s responsibility to ensure he is in possession of all the relevant facts, so the likelihood is that he will want a sea trial as well as a survey, but you still need to be in possession of the facts because you’re going to face questions…

To that end, have a service history file at your disposal. Make sure you know what repairs, if any, have been undertaken. Know what’s original and what’s been added and organise any receipts for the purchase and installation of upgrades. A written document affirming that your boat is free of financial encumbrance is very reassuring and, while you’re certainly not required to volunteer information about your boat’s shortcomings, neither should you misrepresent the facts if directly asked about an issue. It can certainly be a labour intensive-operation getting everything in order, but when a serious buyer steps on board, they’ll be eager to feel positive about your boat so you need to make sure you give them no reason to feel otherwise.

Have confidence in your price

Almost as many people undervalue what they have as overvalue it – partly because they’re not sales professionals and partly because they are keen to secure a rapid deal in order to reduce expenses or free up the finance for another boat. But it’s important to understand that ‘priced to sell’ doesn’t have to mean cheap. On the contrary, once your boat is ready to sell and you have a marketing package that properly voices its chief merits, you’re in a much better position to examine the market, find a suitable outlet and set realistic price. Our team are constantly in touch with the market, so will advise you on a strong market price.

Engage a professional

As a professional broker we will act as your agent, and we’ll use our knowledge to open up a range of markets, contacts and marketing platforms that you would not otherwise be able to access. In fact, while there are plenty of platforms that specialise in private boat sales, some media outlets are explicitly off limits to private sellers, preferring instead to deal with established professional brokers – so if we are appointed, the whole process will become much quicker, easier and better financially!

To make the most from your relationship with us, or indeed any other broker, we need to work closely together, to ensure that we are in possession of all the relevant facts. That will enable us to advise on appropriate pricing, to make recommendations on any improvements that might help your boat stand out from the crowd and to identify any media outlets that might work particularly well for your boat type. We will also be able to help with ownership certificates, surveys, rectification works, post-survey negotiations, contracts, deposit processes and safe transition of funds.

It’s common for an owner to want to oversee the process, but generally at the upper end of the market, where a yacht needs high-profile exposure within specialist outlets, plus the commercial know-how of a professional and real-time knowledge of the global markets, an experienced and well-connected broker is a tremendous asset.