How to Price My Boat For Sale
If you’re about to sell your boat, our best guess is that you’ve been monkeying around on our Boat Finder and have come across a new boat that you simply can’t resist. After all, the only good reason to sell a boat is to have a bigger down payment on a new one. And when it is time to sell, the very first question you’ll likely type into Google is “what to sell my boat for,” or "how much to sell my boat for."
Well, we can save you the trouble of trying to sort through the 350 million-plus results you’ll get. When trying to price a boat that’s for sale, start by determining the average pricing for your boat and similar models by checking these resources.
- Book value according to NADA Guides
- Internet boat for sale listings
- Local boat for sale listings
Setting Your Boat for Sale Price with NADA Guides
The NADA Guides for boats lets you look up a make and model by year, and includes a very comprehensive database of different boat models for everything from personal watercrafts to power cruisers. It even allows you to check off the boxes for specific options a manufacturer may have offered, different sized powerplants, and electronics, all of which have an impact on how to price a boat.
Taking all these different details into account, the NADA guides provide information on the boat’s suggested list price, current low retail value, and current average retail value. There are several very important variables the NADA Guide can’t take into account—more about those, later—but the numbers you’ll see in the NADA Guide do give you a fairly reasonable starting point to work from.
Compare Internet Boat Sales Listings
The true value of a boat quite simply depends on how much a buyer is willing to pay for it, and many sellers start with a high price and drop it through time until the boat sells. In fact, the time it takes to get from an initial listing to a final sale is a factor professional boat dealers consider when trying to figure out just how to price a boat.
So, you have to recognize that when you look at boat listings on the internet, many of the asking prices you will see are a bit far-fetched.
- Online boat listings generally run on the high side, since boats that are priced too low get snapped up quickly, and then the listing disappears.
- While you may see a lowball listing here or there, expect that the numbers you generally see can be a bit inflated.
- Also note that while researching how to price a boat by looking at internet listings you’ll have to sift through a huge number of listings that don’t actually state a price.
Research Local "Boats for Sale" Listings
Whether you’re looking at a local newspaper, magazine, or localized internet listings like those on Craigslist, since the volume of listings will be lower than the national numbers you may have a tougher time finding directly comparable makes and models for sale.
That said, if you do find similar boats listed you may see a more realistic number because the location the boat’s being sold in is the same as your own and location does impact value. On the flip side of the coin, it’s still normal to see somewhat inflated numbers as boats priced properly tend to sell faster and be listed for shorter periods of time than those that are overpriced.
After looking at these three sources you may feel like you’ve managed to uncover how much you should ask for your boat, but there are still variables you need to account for before you can answer the “how to price my boat for sale” question. These include:
- The boat’s condition
- The boat’s location
- The quality of its electronics and how modern they are
- Accessory gear and/or upgrades you’ve made to the boat
How Does a Boat's Condition Affect Price?
The biggest single determining factor in just how much a boat’s value will vary when measured against other boats of the same type and age is its condition. This includes both mechanical and cosmetic conditions.
Obviously if the engine doesn’t run, you have to expect to price your boat at a fraction of the competition. Cosmetic condition is nearly as important, because no one “needs” to buy a boat and it’s usually an emotional purchase. So a great-looking boat that a buyer falls in love with at first sight can command a much higher price than one that looks old and drab.
In many cases, it’s worth investing in some repairs and/or elbow grease, before you price and sell your boat. Trying to sell one that doesn’t run can require extremely low pricing or even be virtually impossible. And spending a day or two waxing and shining up a boat makes it much more likely you’ll be able to get top dollar.
How Does a Boat's Location Affect Price?
Location has a big impact on boat prices. While this variable is more or less out of your control, you do have to take it into account when determining a reasonable price to ask. Gaining insight into just how much higher or lower you should price your boat compared to other parts of the nation can be very difficult, but as a general rule of thumb, in areas where population density is low and there’s a much smaller pool of buyers, the boat’s value could be as much as 10-percent lower than it would be in more heavily populated areas.
Other factors, such as the general availability of boats in an area, can also play a role. In some parts of the nation like south Florida, there may be so many boats of the same size and type on the market that pricing can get competitive. And in some others, such as on an inland lake in middle America where the choices are much more restricted, it can actually inflate a boat’s value.
Marine Electronics, Accessories, Gear and Upgrades
Although some people will remove everything that’s not bolted in place, many others will include their boat accessories when they sell. Most boat accessories, however, age rapidly and won’t add much to the value of a boat.
For example, an expensive suite of marine electronics can enhance a boat’s value, usually by up to as much as half of what those electronics originally costed. This is a short-lived advantage, though, because marine electronics go obsolete very rapidly. If the electronics on a boat are five years old or any older, you really can’t expect them to add much to a boat’s value at all.
You can increase the price of your boat by a small amount if it’s well-accessorized, but if you get 10 or 20 percent of the original cost back out of a boating accessory, consider it a win. Substantial upgrades can have a larger affect on a boat’s price, since these contribute to a boat’s overall condition. You still can’t expect to get the full investment of upgrades back when you sell a boat, but you can hope to recoup a more substantial amount. If you repowered a boat with a new outboard engine within the past few years, for example, you may be able to get 50 or 60 percent of the investment back in the boat’s selling price.
So, How Much Should You Sell Your Boat?
Okay: now are you ready to answer the “how to price my boat for sale” question, once and for all? At this point it should be clear that pricing your boat is as much an art form as it is a science, and you’ll need to do a lot of research if you want to get top dollar without working to sell the boat for months on end. Most sellers settle on a number, list their boat, and see how much attention it draws. If people don’t come rushing, they drop the price incrementally until buyers seem interested.
There is, of course, one other option that greatly simplifies matters: rather than selling your boat, trade it in on a new one. If this is an option you’d like to examine, check out Trade-In or Sell Your Boat to learn the ins and outs of the process. Whatever you decide to do, one thing is for sure: when you kiss your old boat goodbye you’ll be sad, but when you say hello to your brand new boat it’ll be one of the happiest days of your life.
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