Your starting price can make or break the sale of your boat. Ask too much and no one will want more information; ask too little and shoppers will wonder what’s wrong.
Research The Market Price
To set a realistic price, you must educate yourself about the market for your particular boat. Start by checking the boats.com listings, as well as other sites where prices are shown. Unless it is one-off, custom, or very specialized, there will be other boats like yours for sale.
How do you define "like yours?" If several of the same model and year are available, it will be easy to compare—the only variables left are maintenance and options. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Things like salt water or freshwater use or extra equipment will affect your value. For a more unusual boat, look at the asking prices of boats the same type, size, and age.
Blue Book Boat Values
While auto pricing is closely tied to "blue book" value, boat values are not nearly so cut and dried. A pair of center consoles that came out of the same mold on the same day might have very different values three years later, depending on upgrades and maintenance schedules. Prices also fluctuate with location, season, and how anxious the seller is to move the boat. As a benchmark, it's a good idea to check your boat values with NADA Guides. For more information about how to set a price for a used boat with the NADA Guide, read Boat Prices with NADA Guides.
When you have a feel for the price range of boats like yours, evaluate your boat’s value within that range by reading Using Book Value to Price Your Boat: How to Judge What's Fair? If you have a loan on your boat, check to see the exact payoff amount, including any balloon payments or other charges. Use that to set the absolute minimum price you will accept for your boat.
A well-documented maintenance schedule, equipment upgrades, and selling at the beginning of the boating season will all increase boat value. A neglected hull with original powertrain sold at the end of the season belongs at the bottom of the range. Be realistic—but also leave yourself room for negotiation. Every buyer wants to think they got a great deal.
Special tip: Adding "Or Best Offer" instantly softens your asking price. While you should plan to come down from your starting point, there is no need to over-emphasize your eagerness to bargain—unless selling as soon as possible is more important than getting the highest price. (And if price is the biggest concern, watch our video, How to Sell Your Boat for the Highest Price.)
Tips to increase your boat value:
- Save all maintenance records
- Wash and wax at least once a season. To learn how, watch How to Restore Faded Gelcoat
- Cover the boat when not in use
- Follow factory instructions for winterization and maintenance schedules
- On sailboats, inspect the mast annually and replace fatigued rigging
- Rinse trailers thoroughly, especially when used in salt water
Next: How to Answer Questions About Your Boat for Sale