TEN EASY WAYS to make your boat attractive to buyers, Selling Your Boat and Insurance

You’ve put lots of time and effort into boat advertising – lovely photos, a compelling list of equipment, glowing praise for the design, assurance that this is a genuine bargain – and the enquiries start to roll in.

But what happens when buyers come to look at your boat?  Is there an embarrassed silence, an occasional tsk-tsk?  Do you catch a slight wrinkling of the nose before your purchasers disappear in a cloud of dust? 

It’s a mystery to you, the owner – after all, she’s a good sound boat and you keep her in fair working order.  But to a buyer, first impressions are all-important. Small – and seemingly insignificant – details are losing you the sale. 

The good news is that these are often easy, inexpensive things to fix. Jamie Morrison of JM MARINE SURVEY frequently carries out pre-purchase inspections on powerboats, yachts and runabouts, and finds that ‘lick-and-polish’ craft typically sell faster than the rest.  Here are his top ten tips for increasing your chances of a sale:

1) Clean your bilges

Dirty bilges are an indicator of a poorly-maintained vessel, and give the cabin an unpleasant ‘boaty’ smell.  Fuel or oil in the bilge suggests a tired or leaky motor to an experienced buyer (or surveyor).  Of course, it may only be there due to spillage when you last filled the tank, but will the purchaser/surveyor believe you? Or will they assume the worst?

2) Make your motor look loved

Give it a clean, change the oil and filter, top-up coolant levels and so on. Do the simple stuff: positive first impressions go a long way, and your motor will appreciate the TLC and repay you with performance.

3) Give the stove a clean, and check the toilet!

You’d be amazed how many boats we survey where the toilet hasn’t been flushed since it was last used, and there’s ancient food spillage on the stove-top. They may seem like small details, but they can be a significant turn off to a prospective buyer.

4) Polish stainless steel rails and fittings

to remove rust and grime. If you have bright-finished brass, bronze or chrome above or below decks, give that a rub too.  The twinkle of polished metal makes a boat look good, even if surrounding paint or gelcoat is less than immaculate.

5) Check that cabin and navigation lights work

and replace any defective bulbs.  Buyers can be particular about such things; and a surveyor has to report on compliance with current regulations – including dysfunctional navigation lights.

6) Dig out receipts and service records

If you’ve had professional work done to the boat, or you’ve purchased equipment for it, show your buyer or their surveyor relevant receipts. If you keep service records for the engine, make these available too.  Anything that proves you’ve looked after your boat will make a good impression.

7) Check your gas compliance

If you have an LPG installation, it’s illegal to sell a boat in NSW without current gas compliance.  If your compliance has expired or you’ve never had certification, now’s a good time to attend to it. (There’s no reason for this to be an expensive exercise as long as the installation is sound.)

8) Display safety equipment

Safety gear tends to get buried on a boat: pull it out, dust it off, and make sure it’s nice and visible.  It’s not just for looks; safety equipment is mandatory in NSW, so if a buyer doesn’t find it, they’ll assume they have to spend money to equip the boat before they can legally use it.
(For info on mandatory safety equipment in NSW, see: https://www.nsw.gov.au/driving-boating-and-transport/waterways-safety-and-rules/lifejackets-and-safety-equipment/equipment-checklist )

9) Service skin-fittings and valves

Defective skin-fittings have sunk many a boat. Even if a valve is working, it will likely get a thumbs down from your buyer’s surveyor if encrusted with salt and corrosion.  Before the inspection, give all through-hull components a clean, and spray any metal (but not plastic) valves with penetrating oil to free them up.

10) Show your age

Yachts with rigging over 10 years old can be difficult to Insure, and rigging is costly to replace.  It’s a bonus if your rigging is less than 10 years old – but make sure you have receipts to hand so that your buyer (or their surveyor) doesn’t need to take your word for it.

Good luck, and see you on the water!

For other boating tips, as well as information on yacht and powerboat surveys, visit JM Marine Survey at: https://www.mastermarinesurvey.com/