Selling a yacht can seem like a daunting task, but with the proper preparation and strategy, it can be an enjoyable, educational experience. And more importantly, it can be done efficiently, and with maximum sale value if done right.
We caught up with HMY veteran Sales Professional Scott Levin to get the inside scoop on what to do and not to do when prepping your boat to list for sale. Here are 10 key things to keep in mind to ensure your sale is completed as fast as possible and successful so you can get on your new vessel as soon as possible.
1. High-quality photography and videography
This may seem obvious, yet we all see listings with terrible pictures of the boat (or sometimes no pictures at all!). One of the most important things a seller can do is have high-quality images of the vessel. This is the first step to grabbing a potential buyer’s attention. Using a professional photographer is preferable but isn’t always practical. At least, use a good camera with a wide-angle lens to capture broad areas in one shot.
And don’t forget video. If at all possible, capture some drone shots of the exterior and some running shots of the boat in action. Tap into the emotions of the buyer and enhance the connection with your boat instead of another seller’s boat.
This is an area where an experienced brokerage firm can use their connections and resources to make your yacht stand out above the crowd. Time and time again, HMY has acquired new listings that were previously listed with another broker and once the information and photography is professionally updated, the boat sells in a timely manner.
2. Pre-purchase survey and repairs
“Have a pre-purchase survey. This can alleviate a lot of problems and hurdles for both sides and makes it so much easier and smoother of a process if the seller is willing to do it,” said Levin. A survey is going to happen later in the process anyway so pre-empt it and remove all the things that are going to be issues. This shows the seller is very serious and cares about their boat; whereas not doing it leaves more hurdles to overcome in the selling process that can easily scuttle a deal.
“One of my main jobs before even listing a boat is going through it and doing a pre-survey to determine price, or if we’ll even list it,” said Scott.
Sure, you’ve adjusted to your boat’s quirks and know the workarounds, but a buyer only sees examples of shoddy upkeep and workmanship. This is the perfect time to make sure everything works, even small things you think a buyer may not interact with, because chances are, they will. Fix those items that need attention. The money spent will be worth your investment and preserve the sale price as much as possible. Otherwise, your boat could be on the market for quite some time, well beyond other vessels of similar brand and type. In most cases, it's pay now, or pay a lot more later.
3. Equipment Services
Make sure your required or recommended engine services are up to date.
“To me it’s important to have all your services done on your equipment, mainly the engines,” said Scott. “If an expensive service is needed it’s better to have that done before hand.” This service helps to keep the selling price of the vessel as high as possible.
4. Make Her Shine
In real estate, it’s all about curb appeal. In yacht sales, it’s all about dock appeal. First impressions are crucial. Make the boat appear as clean and new as you possibly can make it. Think eye candy. You don’t want to turn off a potential buyer before they even step foot on board just because they took a look at it and thought it was not properly cared for while you owned it.
This may include things such as compounding and waxing, painting, steam cleaning, polishing, applying a new coat of varnish, cleaning the engine room and bilge pump, and replacing worn dirty dock lines. If the basics aren’t done, it’s safe to assume bigger ticket items like system maintenance may be lacking too, and now the buyer is already thinking lowball offer, or no offer at all.
You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
5. Make Her Smell Fresh and Clean
Equally as important as appearance is aroma. Your boat should be kept fresh inside. You will instantly turn a buyer off if your boat smells like musty fishing equipment, a moldy carpet, or a head smell that will cause you to pinch your nose.
One tricky spot Scott has seen cause problems is the bilge’s sanitation hose. The correct hose traps smell and if the wrong kind is used to replace a leaky hose, the smell will permeate throughout the boat. Less experienced boaters may have no clue where the smell is coming from and to a buyer this shows you might not be intimately familiar with your boat. Having an experienced service shop or broker on your side will ensure your vessel isn’t fouled with an unwelcoming scent.
6. De-clutter and de-personalize
Just like a good spring cleaning, go through your yacht and remove all personal items, knickknacks accumulated over the years, and extraneous clutter. You want buyers to see the boat as their boat, envisioning how they would decorate, arrange furniture, paint, or upgrade.
To avoid potential eleventh-hour confusion, remove anything that doesn’t go with the sale. Minimalism is your friend.
7. Full transparency of her history
Nothing casts doubt on a sale quicker than a lack of transparency and honesty with a boat’s records and history. The buyer wants to be reassured the vessel they’re considering isn’t a lemon.
Keep all receipts service records and make them available. Have work done on the engines? Show the receipts. A/C replaced? Show the receipts. How many hours are on the generator? Make the records easily available. Some buyers assemble binders filled with all repairs, upgrades, inventory, and systems details.
8. Stage the boat
Just as you would a home, take the time to properly stage your yacht. Be careful not to overdo it so as not to ruin the de-cluttering. Stick to the essentials — set the table, put sheets on the beds, towels in the heads, a book or two on a shelf, a magazine on the coffee table — and don’t go overboard with vases and décor. Give the buyer a sense of what it could look like and let their imagination fill the space with their personal touches and affects.
9. Marketing exposure
Even if you’ve done everything right up to this point, if nobody knows how or where to find your boat, it won’t get sold. From the simple DIY binder full of info and pictures to the full-blown marketing power of a brokerage firm, have a plan to market your yacht. This is one area where your sales professional who works for a brokerage like HMY Yacht Sales will be able to make a huge difference.
However you decide to market your boat, have a roadmap in place that will help you seamlessly navigate from listing to sale.
Offering your vessel for charter is also a great way to gain exposure and let buyers test your yacht in real-world conditions.
10. Contract with and listen to your broker
Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Research top brokerage firms, contract with a trustworthy and knowledgeable broker, and listen to their advice. After all, they list and sell boats for a living and having the right brokerage team on your side will prove invaluable.
Look into things such as their overall market reach and the size and type of the network a broker and their firm boasts; how they communicate internally; how they listen and respond to customer needs and, how they market their customers’ listings. Choosing the right broker and firm that brings the right tools to the table makes the process much easier. Let an expert position, price, and sell your yacht.
Most importantly, enjoy the process. Selling your boat shouldn’t shave years off your life. Keep the end game in mind—your new yacht if that is the next step for you. And know that you’re passing on a fantastic quality vessel for another fellow yacht lover to enjoy.