6 Reasons Your Boat Doesn't Sell
May 29, 2011 5:57 PM | Tagged as Boat

6 Six Reasons Why Your Boat Isn’t Selling
An insider’s guide to getting your boat sold fast. 
Has the algae grown noticeably thick around your boat's waterline? Has the “For Sale” sign turned black from mold? Did you just attend your boat broker’s retirement party? If you answered yes to any of these, chances are the sale of your boat has fizzled.

Don’t despair: Even if your boat has languished on the market week after week and month after month—keeping you from trading up to that new boat—you can still get your boat in the hands of a new owner. We've identified the six most common reasons boats don’t sell—and what you can do to remedy them.

1.   Your boat is overpriced. When you establish an unrealistic price for your boat, it sets in motion a string of events that works against you. Most boat brokers, and thus most qualified buyers, will see that asking price within 30 days. If your boat is overpriced by as little as 10 percent, buyers’ interest in your boat will decline. (This is especially true if you indicated you have no intention of negotiating.) The few buyers who are interested, and intend to finance the purchase, will find the boat’s inflated value doesn’t jibe with the appraisal from their surveyor or financial institution. SO even if you find someone dumb enough to buy at your inflated price, the bank probably won't lend the money.

Also keep in mind that your boat broker may have suggested or approved the higher asking price in order to secure your listing. Even worse: Competing boat brokers often use overpriced boats like yours to help them sell their own listings. “See what they’re asking?” the brokers say. “Now, let’s take another look at that first boat I showed you.”

Let’s say you have a boat that should be priced at $30,000, and you have it listed at $40,000. You’re now competing with boats priced at up to $50,000, and not the boats in your category. If your boat remains on the market for too long, buyers and other agents may begin to wonder if there aren’t other more serious reasons it isn’t selling. Before you know it, the boat has become “shopworn” and no one’s even looking at it, until you lower the price to a realistic number.

2. Your boat doesn’t show well.   Your used boat is competing against shiny new yachts sitting in showrooms, all with attractive new gadgets, warranties and manufacturers’ price incentives. Let’s face it: Even the best old boat needs a little fixing up to attract the right buyer. The good news is that most of the work will be cosmetic and relatively inexpensive; new paint (or a touch-up of existing paint), a few attractive furniture pieces, new throw pillows and bed linens, and a thorough cleaning of floors and carpets often do the trick. Also, be sure to make that engine compartment sparkle. And wow! The boat almost looks good enough for you to reconsider selling it!

An experienced broker can advise you where your time and money will be best spent. Simply put, though, if your boat smells fresh and looks fresh, you’ll have a nice leg up on the competition.

3. You have a lousy listing agent.   Unfortunately, bad brokers do exist, and they’ll mislead, misbehave and misrepresent. Their bad advice can cost you money and time; plus, you’ll have the added annoyance of keeping the boat ready to show seven days a week. The boat broker from hell will encourage you to overprice your boat: “List your boat with me and here’s what I’ll get you for it.” Then, you’ll be disappointed when he fails to market the boat properly, qualify potential buyers or work with other brokers (if a broker sells his own listing, after all, he’ll avoid splitting his commission), keeping you totally out of the loop.

Worst of all, if your broker is abrasive, arrogant and difficult to work with, other brokers may not want the hassle of showing any of his listings to their own prospective buyers. This is one reason it pays to find out ahead of time about your broker and the company they work for.

4. Your engine(s) has too many hours on it.   Many prospective buyers shy away from a boat with high engine hours. Often, however, this needn’t be the case. Do your homework and obtain from the manufacturer the average useful life of your engine, and you may discover they’re less worn out than you thought.

Then, arm your broker with the data, as well as all pertinent maintenance information, so he can inform (and reassure) prospective buyers. (Most reputable dealers of engines keep maintenance records on file for up to 10 years.) Remember, properly maintained high-hour engines often are in better shape than poorly maintained engines with few hours. Be sure to detail the engine with fresh paint, hoses and belts, as well as detail the entire engine compartment.

5. You’re battling sellers’-market and buyers’-market conditions.   In this business, timing really is everything. The state of the market is affected by any number of external, unpredictable conditions: weather, interest rates, local economy and public optimism or pessimism. In a “hot” sellers’ market, chances are your boat will go for the asking price. In a “cold” buyers’ market, where inventories grow and qualified buyers are scarce, you’ll be lucky to find a buyer even at a low price. So, if you’re trying to sell your yacht in a cold, or flat, market, where you’re competing with new inventory in the hands of dealers and builders, be prepared to settle for less than top dollar.

6.   The builder is out of business. When the builder of your boat no longer produces  boats like yours, the market could react unfavorably with respect to your vessel’s resale value. After all, the builder was once advertising, attending boat shows and maintaining a network of dealers or representatives for its boats, but now no such support system is in place. This does not mean all is lost. Did the builder build quality boats and have a good reputation?  If yes, you can breathe a little easier, since your broker can promote these strong qualities in his marketing efforts. Still, be prepared to accept less than your asking price unless you own a piece of history or some well-publicized masterpiece. Custom boats are, of course, works of art, but you can’t expect them to command deceased artists’ prices.

With a fresh approach, a little research and a few cosmetic improvements, your old boat will find a new owner in no time. And there’s only one thing better than selling your boay: shopping for a new one!

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