How to Sell Your boat

How to Sell your  boat

Before you take the big step to sell your boat. Here are some steps you can take to avoid many of the pitfalls. This way the experience of sell your boat actully becomes the second happiest day of having a boat. 






STEP 1:  MOTIVATING QUIZ -How motivated are you? Here is a quick quiz to find out!

1.      Do you want the quickest sale at the highest possible price?

Yes                           No

2.      Are you willing to be somewhat inconvenienced while your boat is up for sale?

Yes                            No

3.      Are you willing to put some time, effort and, if necessary, money into preparing your boat for sale?

Yes                            No

4.      Can you separate from your boat emotionally?

Yes                           No

Now, take a look at your results.  If you answered “yes” to all four of these questions, then you are a highly motivated seller.  You are willing to do the work to get your boat looking its best!  Congratulations, your time and effort will pay off with a quicker sale and a higher price.

If you answered “no” to just one question, you are fairly motivated.  Think about what is holding you back.  Change a “no” answer to a “yes” and your boat will sell quicker and for more money.

If you answered “no” to more than two questions, you need to get motivated or you will have to compromise on your price and your boat will take longer to sell.  We have seen sellers with little motivation and their boat looks like it.  This is a disaster when a boat is up for sale.



1.      Write down the full specifications for your boat using Yacht World Full Specification Sheets and try to assess condition.

2.      Comparison Shop –

a.    Florida Mariner, trade magazines, newspaper ads.

b.    Call Banks for loan value, check with dealers, insurance agents, dealers and brokers.

3.      Pricing Guides – “Not all marine Blue Books are created equal.”

a.    ABOS – Lists Wholesale Low – Wholesale High – and Average Retail.  “Primarily for Trade Purposes”

b.    BUC – Lists Retail Low and Retail High – No Wholesale Values

c.     NADA lists low, average, and high retail values.

4.      Websites

Summarize all of the above and make your best guess for realistic asking price with 10-15% negotiating room.  Keep in mind your ongoing costs on a monthly basis.


1.      A little preparation and some elbow grease can improve your odds of selling quickly.  You can add thousands of dollars in value with a few simple projects and a few dollars.

2.      Clean the boat thoroughly. A sparkling, shiny boat will get you half way there.

3.      No odors, no clutter, empty drawers and closets make the boat look larger.

4.      Wash the windows, clean the Isinglass, and treat the varnish and teak.  Clean the strainers.

5.      Remove any items not going with the boat.

6.      Spring clean carpets, refrigerator, and ice maker. Put baking soda in the refrigerator. Empty holding tank. Have fresh water in tanks. Clean stove. No crumbs.

7.      The Engine Room and Bilges – no rust – totally clean with white pads under the engines and generator. Clean any corrosion from after coolers, heat exchangers.

8.      Make certain electronics are in working order. Windshield and horns are first to be checked.

9.      Check all lights – navigation, courtesy, salon, staterooms, engine room, and spreader lights.

10. Make certain engines will start, including generator. Have oil changed. Dirty oil is big turn off. Remove any rust!

11.  Inflate your dinghy and make sure the outboard runs.



You have 3-4 choices:

1.      Sell Yourself

2.      Trade boat in for new or another boat?

3.      Use a Broker

4.      Donate



Will net you the most money – But, you have to do all the work.  And, it’s hard on your ego.  Try to sell your boat at the beginning of the season; i.e. follow the boat show schedules.  Plan your advertising campaign.  Classified ads in local papers, trade magazines, tell friends, place posters at yacht clubs and marina bulletin boards.  Internet attracts buyers across the country and worldwide and put a “For Sale” sign on your boat.  Prepare a sales brochure with photos.

If you sell the boat yourself, be sure that you type up a Bill of Sale that includes price, buyer and seller names, addresses and driver’s license numbers, type and size of boat, registration numbers, and a list of the major equipment included. The Bill of Sale can serve as a receipt for payment.

If you take a down payment, provide a written receipt specifying all of the above as well. It is a good idea to make the deposit non-refundable so that you do not take the boat off the market for an uncommitted buyer.

Ask for a cashier’s or certified check for both the deposit and the balance.  Set an agreed closing date and stick to it. Bank-to-bank wire transfers are preferred method of payment.

Cancel your insurance as soon as the transaction is completed and the boat leaves your control.  You may get a refund on the unused portion of prepaid insurance.

While you do not have a legal obligation to volunteer information about the boat, you also cannot withhold known information about a defect. If an accident occurs, your failure to disclose may come back to haunt you and selling a boat “as-is” is not always protection.  If possible, include mention of any problems or defects in the written contract.

If a buyer wants a sea trial, be sure that you have a firm and non-refundable deposit in hand and that the buyer agrees to pay for any costs, such as launching the boat or refueling it.  You do not want to go into the boat-ride business.

If a buyer wants to make the sale contingent on getting good financing, set a deadline or face wasting time while other potential buyers get away.


Trading in your boat is easy when you are buying a new boat.  However, most dealers will not take trades on used boats.  Trade-ins usually earn you the least money. Be sure to shop price since some dealers may offer considerably more trade-in money than others. When deciding on a trade-in, remember that a trade-in may save you sales tax dollars.  This may make it easier and more cost effective to trade-in.


Like a real estate agent, a yacht broker advertises and shows your boat to potential clients, handles the legal paperwork, and takes a percentage of the selling price as a commission.  Shop brokers to see who specializes in boats similar to yours, since they are likely to have more serious buyers.  Understand your listing agreement with the broker.  A reputable yacht broker, one that belongs to an association that requires following a code of ethics, can explain the various listing differences and point you in the direction that is best for you.

From that point, the broker begins showing yachts to the client, usually starting with nearby listings and progressing to yachts that may be scattered around the world.

Once the client decides on a yacht, there is the usual offer/counter offer process with the broker negotiating for the client until a deal is reached.  But, before the deal is completed, there are several more important steps.  Without exception, every yacht contract has clauses requiring that the yacht must pass a satisfactory marine survey as well as a sea trial.  The broker arranges the haul out, sea trial, and survey on behalf of the seller and/or buyer.

A marine surveyor examines the boat from stem to stern (usually when hauled out), and provides a comprehensive written opinion of the condition. The survey also allows a buyer to negotiate further to either have the owner correct any problems, or to reduce the price accordingly.

The sea trial is a similar test that not only reassures the buyer of a satisfactory yacht, but provides a chance to experience the yacht underway.  If, for example, a yacht is claimed to have a top speed of 20 knots, then it should reach that speed on its sea trial.  Less easily quantified; but just as important is the “feel” of the yacht.

Assuming a satisfactory survey and trial, the broker then handles the paperwork, financial transactions, insurance to pass the yacht to its new owner.



Fillingham Yacht Sales, Inc. utilizes extensive website coverage and spends considerable effort in presenting each vessel in the utmost detail.  Our website coverage includes:

Florida Yacht Brokers Association

Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA)
US Powerboating
National Safe Boating Council
St. Petersburg Yacht Club
St. Petersburg Country Club
Florida Council of Yacht Clubs
St. Petersburg Sail and Power Squadron
Florida Women's Sailing Association

Florida Mariner publication -Powerboats
Florida Mariner publication -Sailboats

Lakeland Boating publication
DuPont Registry publication 
Direct Mail Programs

We also advertise on the following European websites in order to take full advantage of the strength of the Euro. These websites are:

Florida Keys Office

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Ft. Lauderdale/Miami Office

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