Five Tips for Selling Your Boat on Boat Trader

Fizz-bo. That’s how the staff at Boat Trader says the acronym FSBO out loud. It means “For Sale By Owner,” and it’s the process that used-boat owners go through when it’s time to sell with the help of Boat Trader — the biggest boat-sales website in the U.S. With millions of visitors and top Google rankings, this is the go-to site for people who want to buy used boats. So, naturally, it’s the place to sell them, too, and thousands of people use Boat Trader’s FSBO option every month to advertise their boats.

FSBO-560pxSetting up an ad is straightforward. Here’s what’s involved. You click here, and you get to a page that looks like the image to the right, showing different package options for photos, ad run-time, search boost, and more.

You’ll have to decide what makes sense for you and your boat, but  if you’re new to online boat-selling and you have a few minutes before creating your account and filling in the blanks, read on for some pointers on how to get the most out of advertising almost any boat on Boat Trader. Following these ‘best practices’ ahead of time will ultimately speed up the sale of your boat, and probably net you more money in the sale.

Try to include a shot of your own boat underway. Avoid using brochure or web photos from the manufacturer -- they don't show a true picture of what you're selling, and buyers will know that.  All photos: Doug Logan

Try to include a shot of your own boat underway. Avoid using brochure or web photos from the manufacturer — they don’t show a true picture of what you’re selling, and buyers will know that. All photos: Doug Logan

1. Good-quality digital photos are crucial, and the more, the better. Each photo is worth a lot of words. True story! An ill-focused shot of a boat sitting on a trailer with a blue tarp over it will not excite anybody. If possible, use a shot of your boat underway. (Some people use promotional photos from the boatbuilder; they’re better than nothing, but they can make a buyer suspicious that you’re not showing them the real condition of your own boat — which is true, you’re not.) Take shots of the boat in and out of the water, from the bow, stern, beam, and quarters. Show the bottom. Take multiple shots of the deck, cockpit, transom area, and accommodations belowdecks, focusing on different features. Take good shots of the engine or engines, helm station, electronics, and installed gear like bilge pumps, toilets, and anchors. Open lockers and take shots of the insides. You get the idea: If you were buying a boat instead of selling one, wouldn’t you want to see all the details?

This photo shows a clean bottom with the paint in good shape, well-tended running gear, newly-installed zincs, and a slightly bent trim tab. Bent tabs are common in used boats, and experienced buyers will know that. Usually it's not a big deal, but a smart buyer will check the transom area where the tabs are mounted for signs of more serious impact. Also, that's almost certainly a metal rudder (one of a pair), probably bronze. Is there an epoxy barrier coat between those rudders and the copper antifouling paint?

This photo shows a clean bottom with the paint in good shape, well-tended running gear, newly-installed zincs, and a slightly bent trim tab. Bent tabs are common in used boats, and experienced buyers will know that. Usually it’s not a big deal, but a smart buyer will check the transom area where the tabs are mounted for signs of more serious impact. Also, that’s almost certainly a metal rudder (one of a pair), probably bronze. Is there an epoxy barrier coat between those rudders and the copper antifouling paint?

2. However, BEFORE you take photos, clean up your boat.  A boat with shiny gelcoat, polished  aluminum and chrome fittings, and a clean bilge will sell faster and for more money than one that looks dingy and dirty. If this were really obvious, there would be no photos of dingy and dirty boats for sale. Honestly, a single weekend of elbow-grease getting these things in order can make thousands of dollars of difference in the sale price of your boat.

3. Get your personal stuff off the boat. Many sellers assume that because they love to see their fishing gear and crocheted pillows and kids’ toys and wet bathing suits hanging around the boat, then buyers will, too.  But they’re wrong. Buyers want to see nothing but clean surfaces, clean cushions, and empty stowage spaces – where they can put their OWN stuff. Those clever signs that have always made you laugh, like Buoys and Gulls over the door to the head, or The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves? Take ‘em down.

As 'homey' as this galley looks, the photo would be better if it showed a clean sweep and no personal effects: Out with the paper towel roll, the nuts on the counter, the fruit, the dishes in the sink, and so on. If you were a buyer, you would want to imagine how things would be in your own galley.

As ‘homey’ as this galley looks, the photo would be better if it showed a clean sweep and no personal effects: Out with the paper towel roll, the nuts on the counter, the fruit, the dishes in the sink, and so on. If you were a buyer, you would want to imagine how things would be in your own galley.

4. Be specific in your ad copy, and leave out the buzz phrases. Use builder specifications for all dimensions. Name names when it comes to add-ons and electronics. Not “VHF radio,” but “Icom IC-M504 Marine VHF.” Not “bilge pump,” but “Rule 500 Submersible pump with float switch.” Not “low engine hours,” but “420 engine hours.” When there’s a factor that should enhance the sale, state it simply: “Fresh-water use only,” or “professionally maintained; full maintenance records.” If you know something is going to be a problem, but it’s not something you plan to fix, state it up front; at least it won’t be a shock to someone who comes to look at the boat.

5. Set a realistic price from the very beginning, and be ready to back up and defend your number with facts. A good way to zero in on your listing price is by doing some research in the NADA Guides. For step-by-step instructions on using the NADA Guides for both boats and engines, read Boat Prices with NADA Guides. The lessons include listing page examples from our sister site, boats.com, but the process on Boat Trader will be exactly the same.

FSBO-160pxOK, now you can get to the nuts and bolts of the online process. Start with Selling Your Boat – Tips. It will spell out how to size and upload your photos, some things to specify in your copy, and a few other important details.

Then you’ll be ready to sign up, get into the system, fill in the blanks, and  post your for-sale ad.

Good luck with Fizz-bo, and let us know how you do.


 

Boat Trader has plenty of  Buying and Selling advice, but also check out the hundreds of articles in the Boating section, with tips on everything from seamanship to maintenance, how-to, where to find replacement parts, and much more.

 

Comments

  1. Ken says:

    Hello,
    I currently own a 2013 Sea Hunt 210 Triton powered by a 150 horse Yamaha engine. The boat also comes with a 2013 LoadRite trailer. I estimate usage being under 80 hrs. Both vessel and trailer are in excellent condition. I’m seriously considering departing with them both. I have moved to another state and totally lost all interest in boating! I’m wonder if this is the site I can actually sell my boat without any hassle and get a timely sell at market value. .

    • Lenny Rudow says:

      Well Ken, we certainly think so… even if we are a bit biased. Still, we do have over 100,000 listings and an audience of over 1.6 million people – so how wrong could we be? I suggest you click on the “Sell” link, and get that listing started today!

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