How To Sell A Sailboat Fast

How To Sell A Sailboat Fast | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Are you thinking about selling your sailboat? Well, most things about selling your boat are just common sense. This means that prepping your beloved boat for sale doesn't have to be painful. But because you're in a competitive market and you want to sell fast, you need to give your boat the best chance.

Your boat is probably one of the best things you've ever owned if not one of your best friends. You've had great fun with it and perhaps still love it to bits. Unfortunately, you've probably been hit by the "boat fever" and like most boat owners, you feel like it's the right time to let go and move on to something bigger, newer, shinier, or even faster. And whether you're selling your boat to fund your next nautical upgrade or want to recoup your investment and take a break from the water, it's of great importance that you understand how to make your sale quick and painless while still getting the best deal.

To sell your boat fast, you need prep it perfectly to attract potential buyers, set an attractive price, take immaculate on-the-water photos and videos, come up with an appropriate sale plan, market your boat to your target audience, have every documentation ready, offer in-person tours of your boat, and get help from a professional boat dealer. By doing all these, your boat will not only sell fast but you'll also mitigate the pain of finding the right buyer of the best deal.

So if you've been looking for how to sell a sailboat fast, you've come to the right place. Read on and find the tips to make your boat a fast seller.


Table of contents

Why You Need to Sell Your Boat Fast

Once you've decided to move on from your current boat, it would only make sense if it sells fast. Having your boat sit on the marketplace for too long means that the boat will get dirty and deteriorate mechanically. You'll also have to incur other costs such as docking fees and this may cost you a fortune.

When is the Best Time to Sell Your Boat?

Whether it's about selling a house, a car, or even a boat, it's become the norm to ask; "when is the best time to sell?" While it's generally said that the best time to sell a boat is between early spring and autumn, this is simply based on a market trend that most buyers would want to enjoy using the sailboat during summer.

Truth be told, there are times of the year when it's better to sell than others. However, the best time to sell is when you're ready to sell your boat. When you've decided to sell, the most important thing is to look for ways to sell quickly.

Choose the Right Price for Your Sailboat

Before getting into the actual selling process, it's important to know the real cost of your sailboat as it is. This will help you set an appropriate starting price. Remember, this can be a tricky process, so you have to be careful not to set a price that's too high to scare off potential buyers or too low diminish the value of your boat.

Normally, the cost of a pre-owned sailboat will be a little lower than the cost of a new boat. You should, therefore, find a way to determine the fair value of the boat. In short, do not set the price too high as you may have a hard time selling the boat. This would mean that the boat stays longer in the market and may fall into disrepair, thereby losing more value. On the contrary, you shouldn't set the price too low as you may lose out of the deal or run at a loss.

So how can you know if the price of your boat is the right one? Start by looking at the value of your boat online. There are various sites such as, BoatTrader, and YachtWorld. You can compare the values of similar boats that are on sale, their key features, engine hours, whether or not the sailboats are in working conditions. Look at the working condition of the boats, their aesthetics, and accessories.

You can also call boat brokers, especially those with boats that are similar to yours and get their perspectives. Ask them what would be the right price for your boat, why the boats haven't been bought, and what they think it would take to sell your boat.

In essence, you can use the above value guides to help determine an appropriate price for your boat. Make sure that you adjust the price based on the condition of your boat but have the minimum price that you're willing to accept. Again, make sure that buyers are aware that you're willing to negotiate so that they aren't instantly turned off by what you're asking.

Prepare Your Boat for Sale

We all tend to draw conclusions based on visual evidence. This is a natural human and it plays a significant role when selling your boat. Believe it or not, potential buyers may be quickly turned off if they walk up to your sailboat and the first thing they see is ratty dock lines. This is essentially why it's of great importance that you keep your sailboat clean, shiny, and in the best condition possible.

What would a potential buyer think about the boat if it resembles some sort of a floating caricature? In addition to automatically assuming that the boat's maintenance is shoddy, he'll most likely use that to make a low-ball offer and this is something that you don't want.

 To avoid this, make sure that your boat is sparkling clean and you'll be guaranteed that it's already half sold whenever a potential buyer checks it out. The interior should be crystal clean while you should polish the metal exterior to gleam, wax the hull, and give it a fresh coat of varnish. In essence, there shouldn't be any gray areas, stains, or non skid surfaces both on the inside and the outside.

When cleaning, don't just think about the hull and the deck. Go down to the details. The main idea is to make a positive first impression and this will only happen if your boat is impeccably clean.

Consider Hiring a Broker

As we noted earlier, hiring a boat broker can help you determine the best value for your sailboat. But they can do even more in ensuring that your sailboat sells a lot quicker. By hiring a boat broker, you won't have to worry about negotiating. He/she will represent your sale, offer tours, negotiate with potential buyers, and assure them that the sailboat is worth their money.

Again, a broker not only has extensive knowledge of the market but can also help you handle essential tasks such as preparing listings, paperwork, and is well aware of how the entire sale process works. But even with this, you still have to vet a broker and make sure that he/she is the right broker for you.

Get Prepped for Survey and Sea Trial

While many people may believe that having a survey and sea trial before you sell may be an unnecessary expense, it can make a huge difference between losing thousands of dollars on the selling price and earning even more. By carrying out a survey, you'll get a preview of what the buyer's survey is going to get. The survey will help you determine issues that may drive away potential buyers or lower the price of your boat so that you can fix them before the buyers' survey.

You should never ignore a pre-listing survey. It will help you determine and fix issues that might lower the price of your boat. As such, you should spend a few hundred dollars in hiring a professional boat surveyor and it will be worth it in the long run.

Take On-The-Water Boat Photos and Videos

You've now fixed your boat, cleaned it and now it's in tip-top shape. You now want to list it but you can do it without pictures and videos. While we all have smartphones with cameras, the best thing to do is to hire a professional photographer to capture eye-catching photos and videos of your sailboat.

Believe it or not, an eye-catching photo can be the difference between having a potential buyer clicking on your listing or ignoring it. Make sure that the location of your boat when the photos are taken is superb and there are no bad lighting scenarios. Remember, videos are a hot seller so make sure that you include some nice videos too.

Do not forget to get detailed shots of the deck, cockpit, and any other area that other sellers tend not to include. This will give you an upper hand if the market is highly competitive.

Where to Place Your Boat (Advertise the Boat)

Any potential buyer will only buy your boat if he/she knows that it's available for sale. When selling your boat, exposure is a fundamental part of it. Your sailboat is only going to sell fast if potential buyers can see it.

In years past, placing magazine and newspaper classified ads was probably the best way to sell your boat first but that's no longer the case, especially with the advent of the internet and social media. In short, it would make sense if you place your boat where most prospective buyers can see it and get access. You would be doing yourself and your boat a complete injustice if you just leave it in your backyard and expect that it will sell fast.

If you're planning to use a broker or a boat dealer to help you sell your sailboat, you can consider moving it to the dealer's office where the salespeople at the dealer can show the boat to potential buyers. All you have to do is make sure that their location isn't so remote that you may need a GPS to find it.

The best idea, however, is to rent a spot (if you can afford it) alongside a busy highway where hundreds of people will be able to see it. You have to make sure that your contact info and pricing is visible and readable from distance. You can also list the boat for sale on sites such as YachtWorld, Boat Trader, and

Show Your Boat In-Person or Virtually

You'll always be hoping that the ads can generate some calls and inquiries. If it turns out that some serious buyers want to check out the boat, it would be appropriate if you give the in-person tours of the sailboat or do it virtually by setting up video chats and tours. Be sure that interested buyers will ask numerous questions about the boat, so you should be ready to answer them. Expect questions about the boat's model, features, conditions, and add-ons.

Keep in mind that there will be joyriders who won't be serious about buying. The problem is, it's almost impossible to know whether a potential buyer is serious or not. Just don't judge a book by its cover and you'll be good to go. But if you can spot a time-waster, it would be good to cut them off as soon as possible so that they don't waste much of your time.

Share Her History

In most cases, a boat will sell on its own if it's nice-looking and well-maintained. However, your main aim is to sell fast so you can be a little creative. This may be hard to believe but sharing the history of your boat, the reason why you bought it in the first place, how it has served so diligently, and why you're looking to sell it will captivate buyers.

Buying a boat is a personal adventure and many potential buyers will be captivated with the story of their next boat. You can include details such as the boat's upgrades, systems, inventory, adventures, magazine reviews, and voyages. This can be a superb selling tool that will quicken the sale process.

Enjoy the Entire Process

You've probably enjoyed the company of your boat and now feel it's the right time to let go. With that in mind, take it in your stride and do not make the sale process stressful and nerve-wracking. Instead, enjoy it as you also think about your next boat or next adventure.

We all know that it may be emotional and quite tough to say goodbye to this old friend of yours. However, no hard feelings; just make sure that you get top dollars and enjoy the process. At the end of the day, it will serve the new owner diligently as it did you, so just toast and wave goodbye!

How To Sell A Sailboat Fast
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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