Top 13 Boat Selling Tips

Dec 07, 2021

Port Annapolis



Rates are low, the Annapolis Boat Shows are coming-up and you’re drooling over all the new boat models being advertised. The only thing standing between you and a new boat is your old boat. Sell it quick and you’ll have more cash and more negotiating power at the dealership!

Here’s a list of pro-tips to help you close the deal on your own terms:

  1. Get Your Market Game On: You’ll need to advertise heavily. Place ads in the local boating ads, the big daily newspaper and, if it’s a large boat or one of limited availability that buyers will likely travel out of state to view, place ads in the pricier regional and national venues. Ads with high-quality images garner more potential buyers. Rent space at some highway-side lot where hundreds of passers-by can see it—more than in your driveway.
  1. Rev It Up: Start the engine and rev it up an hour before a prospect comes to check out your boat. A dead battery or balky start—even for an excellent engine—turns buyers off.
  1. Put Your Best Boat Forward: Looks are important. Spray-on furniture wax can be applied and wiped-off quick and easy. The gleam doesn’t last more than a day, but it’s perfect for that prospect who calls and says he’ll be over in an hour.
  1. Clean Up: It’s better to show empty stowage areas and emphasize how spacious they are then to have all your gear jammed in them to the point of overflowing. Remove your crap!
  1. It’s All in the Details: A professional detail job makes sense for a boat in pristine condition. If your boat rates “average” or “good,” focus solely on the more glaring blemishes. Compound-out rust stains bleeding from fittings, re-tape shredded boot stripe, de-grease the engine, clean the bilge, etc. If the cabin is musty, place air fresheners strategically throughout.
  1. Freshen Up: If clear curtains are scratched or clouded by age, remove them for the initial viewing.
  1. Top-to-Bottom: If the boat is bottom painted, apply a fresh coat. It makes the boat look sharper. Also spray paint outboard and stern drive skegs that have the paint worn-off.
  1. Sea Trial: With the canvas removed, all but safety gear stowed ashore, your boat will plane easier, handle more nimbly, and attain a faster top-end speed. Try to convince the buyer to limit ride-along friends and family to as few as possible, so the boat handles as responsively as possible and seems roomier.
  1. Paper Chase: Have all title, registration, extended warranty and, if available, service records on hand in a binder. It’s impressive, even if the buyer’s initial reaction to it seems ho-hum.
  1. Stay Grounded: Figure out your bottom–line price well in advance of meeting the first buyer. Consider the dollar costs of advertising, storage and maintenance while it’s for sale as well as the time costs involved in showing the boat.
  1. Give the Cold Shoulder: DO NOT reveal your best price over the phone to someone who hasn’t seen the boat. Before a buyer sees your boat, he doesn’t have any emotional investment. Besides, how do you know he can even afford it? Plus, buyers on the fence often have friends call as “new prospects” in an effort to trip you up.
  1. Get Paid: Cash is king. Checks are great—once they clear. So-called “Bank Checks” are not as good as gold. All these do is “certify” that the buyer has the check amount on account on the date of issue. They can be cancelled as easily as canceling a personal check. Do not sign the boat over until you know you can spend the buyer’s money.
  1. Looming Question: Buyers invariably ask why you are selling. Most likely, it’s because you need the money. But you can’t just say that (or that your tired of endless self-maintenance without the benefit of a warranty). Lifestyle changes are the best answer. Say you want to try cruising and can’t do it in an open boat, your kids don’t go with you anymore so you don’t need a ski boat, you don’t fish offshore anymore so a downsize is in order—whatever reason is feasible in your situation.


Good luck with the sale of your boat! The above suggestions should help make the process easier, quicker and, hopefully, more profitable. Also, before purchasing your next boat, take a look at our  post on choosing a boat dealer.

Post by Port Annapolis

On an impeccably landscaped 16-acre site, Port Annapolis Marina features over 250 deep-water slips in the shelter of Back Creek, conveniently located, just off the Severn River.

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