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Everything You Need to Know About Owning a Boat (Part 5)

Well, you gave it your best shot.  You thought owning a boat would be as fun as everyone says it is but decided that boat ownership isn't for you.  Now you have this thing and you don't really know what to do to sell it, at least in a way that you retain your sanity and a bit of its value.  Selling a boat can be like selling a car, but it can also be like selling a house depending on the type of craft you own.  Selling a boat also costs money, something a lot of people wouldn't really expect.  The bigger the boat the more it will cost you.

If you have a small boat, maybe one with a trailer, you could probably put it in your driveway with a For Sale sign and you might find a buyer pretty easily.  Maybe a free ad on Craigslist is an option or an ad in the local BoatTrader magazine, or online site.  These things may work but you need to know how much your boat is worth in order to place the ad.  You can look at comparables on Craigslist, BoatTrader, eBay, and the others to find what your boat is actually worth.  Just like a car or house the condition really matters, the stuff inside it usually don't.  If you Are selling your PFDs, cooler, boat hooks, etc. they may entice a new boater but they don't really have value on the used market.  Things like stereos, radar, GPS, etc. may add a bit to the value of yours but if every boat out there is set up the same it really comes down to condition.  Does the fiberglass shine?  Is the wood in good shape?  Are there cracks in the fiberglass?  What condition are the sails or engine?  It may take a while to sort out the value if you have a special model and there aren't any others like it out there.  For example our neighbor has a 54' Savannah Yachts Express Cruiser which is one of only six ever built.  They don't come up for sale often so it's hard to value them.
A beautiful but very uncommon boat, this Savannah would be hard to value.
For a larger vessel you may look at a dealer or broker to sell it for you.  When you get to the world of the mega yacht it's common for a broker to sell it.  In fact the larger the vessel the more you want a broker to sell it to keep you from having to deal with people who just want to take a look and aren't serious about buying.  Boats are expensive and it's hard to know if the guy coming to take a look actually has the money to purchase.  Brokers can insulate you from this but of course they will take a fee.  Brokers and dealers will usually set up a percentage of the sale so it's in their best interest to sell high.  They make more money when you do.  The more expensive the yacht the better chance you have to negotiate the broker's percentage too.  I don't think anyone would be paying 5% on the sale of a $100 Million yacht.

You will probably have to allow the boat to be inspected by a certified Marine Surveyor once you receive a deposit or earnest money.  We talked a bit about that in Part 1 of this series so take a look there to know more.  This means making the boat available on land and/or in the water for the surveyor to check all systems and the structure.  The survey will be paid for by the buyer and if there is a sea-trial the fuel is paid for by you.  Sea-trials usually don't last long, they are a chance for the buyer to check out the boat and the surveyor to further test it.  This will usually include a full throttle run for a set amount of time to make sure the engine doesn't blow up.  For sailboats the sails will be unfurled and everything tested and inspected.
Survey from our purchase of Cygnet
After the survey and also after the sea-trial the buyer may try to renegotiate the price which is normal if the surveyor found issues that you hadn't disclosed or didn't know about.  Once the price is agreed upon you may do a cash deal on the spot with lower priced boats, but usually the higher priced ones will end up using an escrow account (sometimes the broker will have this and sometimes it is a separate company) and the funds will be transferred to you after the paperwork is signed.  It's not common for a seller to give any guarantees or warranty unless the seller is a manufacturer so once that boat is no longer yours the buyer is on their own.  We do know sellers who have helped buyers with repairs and maintenance after the sale but that's uncommon.

We don't like some of the cheesy boat sayings but this one is pretty true:  The two best days in a boat owner's life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it.

Next time on a very special Water We Thinking:  What kind of stuff do I need to boat?


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