The Best Place to Sell A Boat
The boat market has been pretty hot since the Covid pandemic began, for new boats (many of which have been in short supply) and especially for used ones. Prices have risen and many people who wanted to sell a boat have benefitted from increased general boating interest. Several of my friends have recently sold a boat and one family member has bought a used boat. I recently bought a used boat trailer and I’ve had many conversations about this topic and been asked a number of times where the best place to sell a boat is.
The answer is really a mingling of where and how, and much depends on the type of boat and amount of money involved, as well as how quickly you’d like to dispose of it. Selling a kayak or jonboat is simpler than selling a large boat with a mid- to high-five-figure price tag.
First Things First
- Assess Condition. Fondness for your boat may cloud your assessment of the shape it’s in, so have an impartial friend or friends look it over and help you make a realistic judgment of condition.
- Clean and Fix. De-cluttering and cleaning are essential chores before you put the boat for sale. Some repairs may also be necessary; it depends on what they are.
- Take Good Photos of a Clean Boat. Include closeups of important details, as well as pictures of the boat on the water and in use if you can.
- Get Documentation in Order. Make sure you have the registration and/or title for the boat and trailer. No one should buy a boat or trailer without this, despite what the seller may say. This isn’t necessary for non-powered boats that don’t need to be registered. Also, pull together all maintenance records.
- Establish the Right Price. It seems that there’s a lot of variability in prices for similar boats, so getting the price right is important. Both you and a buyer want a fair deal. It’s reasonable for a prospective buyer to ask how you arrived at your asking price. You can get an estimate from a local boat dealer or place that services your boat, and (for some boats) you can get an estimate by checking out the NADA boat guide.
- What’s Your Timeline? If you need to sell soon, you should be more aggressive in your approach than if you’re not in a rush.
Here are some considerations for how to sell a used boat and the best place to sell a boat.
- Start with your network. Let friends, family members, people in your church, civic group, fishing club, etc., know as soon as you’ve established your price. You may not have to do anything else, as word-of-mouth may constitute the best place to sell a boat, or at least the best way.
- Put it on display. Like in your yard or some high-profile place, especially if you live in a high-traffic area and are in a location where boating is very popular.
- Consider boating/fishing forums and social media. If you have a presence in and familiarity with these.
- Do you need to advertise with a boat listing service? Probably, if it’s a large boat worth a significant amount. The potential buyer pool is less for such a boat and people far away from your area may be looking for what you have but wouldn’t find it easily otherwise. For valuable boats this is often the best place to sell a boat.
- Consider having a boat dealer sell for you. A normal commission for this is 10%, but it may be worth your while to avoid tire kickers, no-shows, and wannabes.
- Is an ad in the local paper worthwhile? Probably not, see the next item.
- Post on a local Craigslist. This may be the best place to sell a boat online free, as it is a longstanding and ubiquitous classified ad website that requires no membership to advertise with, nor the downloading of any app to partake in. Selling on this no-fee site allows people in your area to come and inspect your boat. Having bought and sold numerous items, including boats, on Craigslist, I'm certain that one of the keys to success here is posting many good and useful photos, and providing a plethora of information about the item being sold. See the caution noted in the next item and check out these other boat-selling tips.
- Posting on other selling/buying websites. This would include Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Offer Up (through its app). A friend of mine has sold and bought large boats on Facebook Marketplace in the last 18 months and swears that it’s the best place to sell a boat online, better than Craigslist, which has many scammers associated with it. I’m not so sure, but Marketplace at least filters users and posts, whereas Craigslist does not. Check for whether sellers must pay a fee to list or a commission or fee to sell (as eBay does).
On a final note, it may be that the best place to sell a boat is a combination of the aforementioned actions. That’s especially true if you want it to sell quickly.