We cover a lot of maintenance issues on Boat Trader, and offer plenty of tips on how to sell your boat more easily online. But one reason for maintenance that isn’t discussed much anywhere is that linkage between maintenance and the ease — or difficulty — in selling your boat when the time comes. With regard to presenting well, you need to take an honest look at your boat and ask yourself if it’s one you would want to buy. If the answer is no, you may need to drop some coin sprucing it up.
Because I loathe spending money on something I’m about to sell, I try to do things with a long view in mind. During the course of ownership, I fix what breaks, I maintain the mechanicals vigilantly, and I make sure everything stays clean and polished. That way, when it’s time to sell, you just wash it and hang the sign on it — and you got to enjoy a boat in good repair the whole time you owned it.
The condition of your boat will dictate what kind of price you can get for it. The nicer it is, the less likely you’ll have to accept a lower price. You can send any low-ballers out into the chrome-cold sting of the used-boat marketplace. Maybe after they see the condition of other boats out there they’ll be willing to make a more respectable offer.
For the dings and scrapes that won’t scrub off, there are two schools of thought about mentioning them in your ad or showing them in photos. My belief is that if you think they’re small enough that they might be overlooked, don’t include them. If it’s something that a prospective buyer is sure to see – like a torn seat or a gelcoat chip — be up-front about it. Include a picture of it in your listing. Odds are good the buyer will appreciate your honesty.
You also could repair the shortcomings rather than just take pictures of them to include in the ad. The decision will rest on whether the repairs will pay for themselves in the form of a higher sale price. Cosmetic items like torn seats and gelcoat chips can be pretty cheap to fix, but they go a long way toward making your boat look as though it was well cared-for while you owned it — and toward getting a higher price for it.