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Old 10-09-2015, 05:24   #1
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How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

How hard is it to sell your own boat?

We have a Catana 42 and although we aren't ready to sell just yet we have an end plan to sell before we have to go back to work early 2017.

With the world wide web, a website and plenty of background in marketing and sales I thought I would be able to have good crack. At least I will be honest and passionate about the boat.

My questions is it possible, and worth having a go at. Or could it actually harm our long term efforts.

A few questions that I consider.

Are buyers interested in buying expensive boats direct from the owner?
Have others done it before and how did you find the experience?
Is there a third party you can involve that doesn't want 10% if a mediating party is needed?
Is selling to an international market so difficult as suggested by agent?
Can others tell me of if you have sold or attempted to sell your boat on your own and decided that it is not worth it and paying agent 10%.

Wouldn't it be better to negotiate without having to pay an agent's cost?

Our buying agent from Multihull Solutions Australia who we have always trusted, has cautioned that it is a difficult process fraught with dangers and one he has advised against.

I am very keen to know what others have experienced and any advice will be read with great interest.


the Miss
Miss Catana

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Old 10-09-2015, 05:39   #2
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

As long as youre marketing where the buyers are, I dont see a problem. Eg the high volume boating websites in your region/country.

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Old 10-09-2015, 06:21   #3
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

It depends, where are you going to be when its for sale? Are you going to be prepared to get very familiar with the TAX/GST/VAT/Duty situation, for yourself/the buyer/the location of sale?

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for.
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Old 10-09-2015, 06:32   #4
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

A couple of considerations...

A large percentage of buyers looking for more expensive boats (which I would call anything more than about $50k) are going to be working with brokers themselves. Brokers are going to steer buyers towards boats that are offered by other brokers. This is for the simple reason that they know there won't be any hassles or arguments about the broker's fee. So, with an expensive boat, you are limiting your market by selling it yourself.

Second, you mention being passionate about the boat. In reality, a dispassionate broker might be a much better person to sell it for you. Being passionate about the item that you are trying to negotiate a sale of is not always a good thing.

Next, in most countries there is a lot of paperwork involved in selling a big-ticket item like a boat. Selling internationally, even more so. These are legal contracts that can cost you a lot of money if you don't do them right. If you are not going to engage a broker, who is a professional at handling this kind of sale, then I would strongly suggest that you engage a lawyer, to make sure that all of the legal angles are handled.

You also need to respond to inquiries and show the boat. Are you going to be continually (or nearly so) available to do that? This is a brokers business, so for them the answer to that question is yes. For you, are you willing to make this your full-time business until the boat is sold?

People do, of course, sell boats themselves. Happens pretty regularly, in fact. Do they really come out that far ahead of where they would have been--especially if you consider the headache factor--if they had engaged a broker? The answer, probably, is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Sometimes they probably come out well ahead. Sometimes they probably come out way, way behind. In fact, just like with people who try to sell their own home, I'd bet that a large percentage spend a whole lot of time and effort on it, and then end up engaging a broker anyway.

Not trying to tell you that you should not sell it yourself. Just offering a couple of things to consider.

(And, by the way, I have bought and sold boats on my own, as well as through brokers. I would place my boat with a broker, unless I was expecting it to go for less than about $25k-$30k. Then I MIGHT consider selling it myself)
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Old 10-09-2015, 06:37   #5
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

The Miss - wishing you success on this project - not to sell your boat, but to avoid paying 10% to a broker.

Originally Posted by Factor View Post
It depends, where are you going to be when its for sale? Are you going to be prepared to get very familiar with the TAX/GST/VAT/Duty situation, for yourself/the buyer/the location of sale?
Factor makes a valid point here. But perhaps if you find a buyer, in such a location where you don't have command of the local regulations, you could then enlist a broker, negotiating a commission much less than 10%. The broker wouldn't have had to advertise, etc. and logically should entertain a smaller commission for doing a lot less work and spending no overhead.

Good luck,
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:36   #6
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

I was told before that the only thing harder than buying a boat is to sell one.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:02   #7
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

I am a broker so of course I'm biased on this topic in addition to being dishonest, a consummate liar, thief, etc, etc. according to many on this forum.

However, I always tell my potential clients it is best to sell the their boats themselves if they can. Most don't want the hassle of setting up showings for people who never show, can't possibly afford the boat if they do show, or want the seller to finance. Those who are brave enough to try usually call me after several months and ask me to help them find a buyer. I have never closed a sell and had the seller indicate my services weren't appreciated.

There are many areas a broker can be of service. Of course there are bad apples. Believe me, there are sellers and buyers I wish I never had met!

Sorry the rant.

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Old 10-09-2015, 08:02   #8
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

I recently sold my boat myself, had it listed locally on and off for about five years. My asking price was about 10% less than an identical boat listed with a local broker. The buyer said that he looked at the brokered boat but that mine was in better condition. I got 10 % less than my asking price, counting the improvements I made at my expense.

My personal opinion is that I could have done just as well selling thru the broker and not have had to engage people who were only tire kickers with no intention of purchasing. The offer I accepted was the only offer I received.

I also do not see any advantage to the buyer in not using a broker unless perhaps the buyer knows the history of the boat and can survey the boat himself.

Local surveys are basically a list of equipment that the surveyor knows little about.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:04   #9
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

It is said that the two most exciting days of a boat owner are the day he gets and the day he sells the boat.

Not true. I have owned my Feeling 446 for 18 years and still love sailing it and living aboard. I should be trying to sell it but... I cannot convince myself to do this.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:18   #10
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

Originally Posted by Factor View Post
It depends, where are you going to be when its for sale? Are you going to be prepared to get very familiar with the TAX/GST/VAT/Duty situation, for yourself/the buyer/the location of sale?

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for.
I think that's the biggest issue.

I've sold two cruising sailboats, two I sold myself, two through a broker not being convenient to show them being by far the biggest reason I went with a broker on the last two.

Certainly the many online boats for sale sites that allow independent sellers to list boats makes it much easier to reach potential buys quickly and affordably. There will of course still be some buyers who only use brokers or only look at broker listed boat sites such as Yachtworld.

I think the times I sold boats myself, having the experience to talk very knowledgeably about the boat to the potential buyer was more of a positive than negative. If the boat is located somewhere convenient to potential buyers, it may help selling it, but it can also mean a lot of tire kickers. When I sold my boats through a broker, I docked my boat at the marina where the broker was located, making it easy for them to show anyone the boat without advanced notice. When I was looking for my last cruising boat, I made an offer on one though a broker and when on the sea trial, the surveyor was inspecting a through hull and it failed. In that instance it was really nice to have a broker involved.

Both of my boats for sale by owner were in the U.S., sold and bought by U.S. citizens so the paperwork was very straight forward.

Right now I'm in the process of selling off a number of very small sailboats, and it's a PITA. I'd much rather be putting the time into a single sale that saves me a 10% commission.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:46   #11
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

I had my boat sold w/o broker contingent on my buying the boat of my dreams, but that purchase fell through. So yes, you can sell your own boat.

I did it by word of mouth. I invited the potential buyers aboard, took them sailing, and went through the boat (ie the flaws) with them.

That said, a GOOD broker can save you time and money. He can be there mid-week when you can't be. He can look up what similar boats actually sold for, can go through your boat and point out flaws that you overlook because you've lived with them for years, and he can tell you the actual selling price.

Before I went solo I entertained selling through a broker. He said it would sell for a price that turned out to be 15% less than the offer I doubt so he could turn a quick sale. They aren't in it to make you money, they're in it for them to make money as fast as possible.

If you are geographically distant from your boat it's virtually impossible to sell without a broker.
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:01   #12
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

Having just been through the process (almost finished), I can tell you the amount of effort it took for me.

Made this website. Including taking photos, it took ~2 days of work. I'm not including the work to detail the vessel because that would have needed to be done anyways.

Spent about 1 weekend day aboard the boat every weekend for the last ~3 months doing showing / cleaning her. I probably showed the boat an average of 1 evening per week as well (post work).

Spent about 1 day on a single buyer who didn't ultimately end up buying the vessel.

Spent about a 1 day on documentation for the new owners (bill of sale, sales agreement, etc).

So all in all, it was a fair bit of work. Probably 2-3 weeks or so worth of work spread out over three months. Was it worth it for me so far? Yes. Would it have been worth it if the boat was on the market for a year? Probably not.
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:01   #13
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

I have done it both ways. I find brokers generally to be inattentive to details and not very much on top of things. It feels like you need to remind them to sell your boat. I once asked how many people a broker had shown my boat to, he had no idea. But I do think people are more comfortable negotiating thru a broker or middle man. I once gave a broker 90 days to sell the boat and told him that up front. At 120 days I changed to another broker and it sold within 30 days.
Another time I had an offer on the boat, but the buyer wouldn't come up to a reasonable price. I met with the buyer without the broker, and told him about everything on the boat and convinced him it was a bargain. I still had to pay the broker who obviously didn't know how to do his job.
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 10-09-2015, 09:15   #14
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

My girlfriend sold her Pearson 424 through a website in 3 weeks, despite my old fashioned insistence it'd be a waste of time and money.
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:17   #15
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Re: How Hard Is It To Sell Your Own Boat?

Had a mid-40 foot Chris White Atlantic cat for sale here in the bay area last year. Found it on Craig's list. Skipper had just returned from a couple of years of cruising in the South Pacific. Before he put it on the market he reseated all of the running rigging plates, reseated all of the gaskets in the hatches, repainted inside and out, new bottom job, and had the engines serviced. The boat showed very very well. Then he sold it at a realistic price. My point is a good boat will sell if it shows well and is at a good price. His boat sold for in the 290 K range. Atlantic cats are well thought of. Catanas are well thought of boats. Your boat must show well and the price point has to be carefully considered. It took him almost three months of hard labor to get the boat up to snuff. If I had that much money I would have bought it in a heartbeat. It can be done. All of the tax stuff, documents, can be done by a little research. That being said....brokerage fees seem high especially when the boats cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but they have to deal with all of the idiots like me who want to come aboard, salivate, dream, and waste your time.

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