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Author Previous Topic: Great Job Topic Next Topic: Looking for info on 2750 explorer  


RO# 12640

Posted - Jul 07 2008 :  21:50:01  Show Profile
One of BE members, was very succesful with selling his boat in a bad market, Ernesto was kind enough to share his techniques. Below is his post, thought this would be a good stickey for this forum.

I have received about at least four requests from BoaterEd members for suggestions on how to sell a boat via email or PM. This, because I was successful selling the boat promptly and at a fair price. While 75% of that was just pure LUCK, I did work hard to get the boat sold, and in this market it sure wouldn't have sold otherwise. Here is how I went about selling the boat, I hope this helps!

The key for me was to:

1. WORK at advertising the boat, and be willing to spend some money in doing it, but spend it smartly. Think about the fact that you'll save the 10% commission from a broker. In my case I budgeted $2k for advertising and went through almost all of it.

2. This one is common sense... but... Have the boat in excellent/pristine condition, I actually invested money fixing a few things before going on the market. Not big things but cosmetic issues that could have given a buyer pause. If you're marketing the boat as 'pristine', 'like new' 'cream puff' or 'in excellent shape', big hairline cracks, burnt isinglass, worn carpet and other cosmetic things aren't very expensive to fix and will not distract buyers. Again, I spent about 1.5k fixing some things to make sure the boat looked like new.

3. Do a GREAT write-up! Make sure to point out everything that was special, unique about the boat, any upgrades, and write a good advertisement for it, making sure you are doing your best to present your boat as unique in this tough market. There's many boats out there, what is it that makes yours unique? This is an easy one to get an advantage on, competing against boats represented by brokers who know NOTHING about them. I even advertised the fact that all the service items had already been done so the boat was truly ready to go. This included paying the marina $700 to pull and service the outdrives, I even serviced everything on the genset (anode, impeller, oil/filter, spark plugs etc)...

4. PICTURE PICTURES PICTURES, take the BEST possible pictures you can take right after you've detailed the heck out of your boat! Seriously, grab some Qtips for the hard to reach places, and spend a weekend making the boat look like new. The more pictures the better, highlighting the boat's better features. If there's a nice detail (grab handle, upholstery logo, woodwork joint etc) that you love about the boat, make sure to take a picture of it. In the boat I sold, the bow rail lights were unique, so not only did I mention it, I waited until nighttime and took a pictured that captured the effect. Oh, and clean out your stuff before you take the pictures. Clutter really detracts. We only left the decorations that really imporoved the appearance of the boat... This was not hard for us as we always keep the boat very organized.

5. Host your MAIN ad in a place like BoaterEd, with ALL OF the information on the boat and tons of pictures, with an answer for ANYTHING that you could think anyone may ask you, so that anyone who responds to one of your ads with questions or asking for more pictures, you can just direct to this ad. The ad here is free and without a limit on the number or words or photos! You can still see my ad here, hopefully you'll note the effort put into photographing the boat in a very attractive manner, and all the features highlighted in the process (teak platform, rail lights, screen door, etc.):

You'll get a lot of inquiries, so it's a lot easier directing someone to a thorough listing like this than to be addressing individual questions from a bunch of people all the time.

6. Then, pay to advertise your boat in places like,, and Do spend the money to 'feature' your ad in those places, particularly in where the 'featured ad' option is a one time expense instead of a monthly upgrade. Based on how it went for me (amount of hits on my ad in each place), I'd only do and if I had to do it again. Because my boat was a Canadian boat popular up there, I also bought some ads in some Canadian classifieds.

7. Keep your Craigslist ads active, it's a pain but you need to do it. Some people who don't really follow the rules would suggest that you write different ads so you can put them in different markets. I just bought my new Tiara through Craigslist, and one of the Cruisers my friend sold was sold through Craigslist. Yes it will increase the amount of spam and scam contacts, but it's also a viable selling tool. My Craigslist ads were very brief, with a link to my very thorough ad.

8. Really very important: your boat's probably worth a little less than you think! :-( I started advertising at 125k thinking I could sell for 115k, and in my mind had a "bottom" price of about 112k. This was a mistake. I got few hits in the first month. It won't matter how clean it is if it's priced so high that people won't even bother to come see it. I changed my asking price to 115k, just 3k over what I thought was my "bottom", and the hits/requests for info started flowing consistently. So I'd say, advertise just a bit above what you are willing to sell. Buyers will come to you, fall in love with the boat, before they realize that you're not willing to come as far down as they thought. First offer I got was 105k and I turned them down, second offer was 107.5k and I turned him down, then the guy who had made the first offer called me and we worked a deal on the phone for 109k. He basically asked what it would take to get the deal done right there. They loved the boat, they had brought the kids onboard in the preview, they didn't want to lose it. I bet if I had said 110k they may have paid it. Notice I was willing to turn some offers down, but ONLY because at that point I would have rather kept the boat, as I owed 106.8k and I wanted to get at least a bit of cash out of the sale. In this market, if you turn down an offer, consider (like I did) that you're likely keeping the boat!

9. Do all the research to know exactly how the THREE blue books price your boat. Keep in mind blue books are all over the place. You can get NADA and BUC online (the latter is tricky to get but can be done). For ABOS, try to find a connection with a dealer who's willing to give you the ABOS printout. In my case, I sold for about exactly NADA price including all the options (NADA w/o options was scary!), or just below ABOS price. Also get acquainted with every single similar model boat up for sale in the major web sites within a couple years of yours. Look at their asking prices, and be competitive with them. Look for things that make your boat better than the others. In most cases when someone told me "I'm also looking at one in so-so place" I already knew which boat he/she was talking about. I had a long write-up that I sent people in price negotiations, detailing blue book values (my interpretation as seller, very different from what my interpretation would be as buyer) for the boat, and how it compared with similar boats on the market in a price/features/condition perspective.

I think many people do a lot of these things, but I've seen many that just don't do a great job with their write-ups or pictures. In a tough market, this is what can distinguish your boat from all the others out there. A lot of buyers aren't knowledgeable enough to recognize two boats are really the same, the only difference being that one is just much better staged and photographed.

In my case, my buyer found it right here on BoaterEd. Most credible buyers otherwise came through, for some reason. My thread got over 3,000 hits, I'm assuming a lot of them coming through links from some of my other ads.

Of course, some people attribute my sale to the fact that in the listing there was a picture of my wife on the bow with a bikini... I refuse to believe it's that simple... But hey, it can't hurt.

Good luck with your sale! That's probably what it really comes down to!

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Will Rogers

Edited by - Ernesto on Jul 07 2008 11:09:26
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin

Edited by - walterv on Jul 09 2008 20:37:17

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