Preparing A Boat For Sale

Preparing your boat for sale – ensuring your boat is in good condition to attract the best offers…

Ownership of a boat involves time and organisation. Even the most attentive boat owners may find it a challenge to stay on top of the often never ending jobs list. However, those items, no matter how minor can be a make or break factor with a boat that is listed for sale. When buying a boat potential purchasers have the ability to be picky and can often strike things off their list for small issues.

Visual Preparation

First impressions are always important when it comes to selling boats. The first steps aboard will often leave the biggest impression on a potential purchaser. Being dry, warm and clean will help the viewer appreciate the boat is loved, looked after and most importantly not being left alone. Sometimes a brush and boat soaps will only go so far though. Having the boat valeted and polished by a professional often stops boats ‘looking their age’ whilst it also makes future cleaning far easier to stay on top of. In the winter months it is sensible to put a small dehumidifier or heating unit on board which will help keep the damp away and prevent the build up of mould or odours.


No boat is perfect, even those that come out of showrooms can have small defects and ‘quirks’. When they are known and understood they are not often a problem. But to a potential buyer who is unfamiliar with the individual boat, needing to ‘do x before y or else z’ could be a question mark for deeper issues. If you know of a problem with your boat, get someone to take a look. Even if you only get a quote and explanation of the repair needed, this is enough to put to bed any fears in the mind of your buyer.

Having a recent engine service, the sails laundered or even winterising the engine all prove to a buyer that the boat is still being looked after.

Ashore or Afloat?

This is always a tough question for owners, particularly those who have higher usage on their boat. From a yacht brokers perspective, having a boat ashore is often easier both in terms of viewing and organising surveys. Many potential buyers like to have the chance to view the underwater profile of a boat and this also avoids them having to pay the cost of a lift for a survey. Keeping a boat afloat though is not always a negative. Often it makes the boat feel a bit more lived in and looked after. The key, whether ashore or afloat, is to keep the boat warm and dry. The benefits of a dehumidifier and a small heater can’t be stressed enough in the winter months. Most brokers are happy to empty the tray of a dehumidifier prior to viewings or on regular intervals when arranged too.

What could go wrong?

After a purchaser has viewed the boat, made an offer and a broker has negotiated a price between the parties it can feel like the hard work is now done. Unfortunately this is often not the case. However with a bit of prior planning you can avoid some of the common issues faced.

One of the most frequent barriers of a sale with yachts and boats alike is so often paperwork. Prospective new owners will expect to see everything from VAT invoices to the receipt of the heating unit being serviced two years ago. As an owner, putting everything together in an organised and chronological order can give your buyer peace of mind, even if some paperwork is missing. The most important pieces of paperwork include; previous Bills of Sale, builders certificate, VAT invoice, engine service records and invoices for any major or minor structural work.

Another option, especially for a larger or older vessel is actually to have a pre purchase survey. By commissioning an independent surveyor to go through your boat prior to selling it two things can be achieved. The first is of course, faults and issues can be found and rectified which will help your boat achieve your desired price. The other possible benefit of having a survey is that a potential buyer may be happy to go through with the sale without commissioning a survey of their own. Many customers call brokers asking for any recent surveys and it is not out of the question for them to take those surveys as enough evidence providing the boat has not been used much, if it all since.

Overall, as most owners know, there is no such thing as a perfect boat. Potential buyers will always find faults and surveyors are good enough at their jobs to spot even the most minor issues. The overriding factor though, to any buyer, is that if a boat seems looked after and cared for they will likely not be finding more issues further down the line in their ownership.

Parkstone Bay Yachts are an independent yacht brokerage based in Poole, Dorset, and are the sole UK agents for Contest Yachts, RM Yachts, Nordship Yachts and Wauquiez Yachts.