Setting Sale: 5 Steps to Selling Your Boat

BOSTON (MainStreet) -- A classic quip has it that the two happiest days of a man's life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.

The point, cynically made, is that casual boaters often get in over their heads and the thrill of the open seas diminishes with every repair and fuel bill.

A summer fades into fall, some may be thinking about ending the season by selling their boat or yacht. Rough economic conditions may be forcing the hand of otherwise reluctant sellers.

What's the best way to sell your boat? The following are some suggestions for maximizing the proceeds and shortening the time your seaworthy joy stays on the market.

Hold off just a bit
It may make sense on your end to sell at the end of summer. Unfortunately, the same may not hold true for buyers.

"If you bought a boat right now you'd have to concern yourself with storage ... if it's a boat that requires that," says Scott Croft, a spokesman for the Boat Owners Association of The United States. "Or you have to figure out if you can put it in your backyard. That is a concern this time of year."

"I see ads now there are people selling boats 365 days a year, and you do see the ads now popping up occasionally that will say 'winter storage included,' and people will try to negotiate that factor. 'Buy the boat and I'll pay for your winter storage,'" Croft says.

Find the right sales pitch
You are more than likely going to spend some money to sell your boat. While plunking down a "for sale" sign or flier at the marina may grab some eyeballs, you will likely have to cast a wider net through classified ads, online postings and the like.

When posting online, take the time to compose a photograph that displays your boat in the most attractive way possible. If you don't feel up to the task, spend the extra money it takes to hire a professional photographer. Their expert eye could make a big difference.

Especially with a yacht, finding a specialized broker could help speed the sale and remove a lot of the hassle. Like a real estate agent, a broker will extract their own fee -- many require a flat stipend for less expensive boats and a percentage take on costlier vessels.

"I had to use one about a year and a half ago and I ended up loving using a broker," Croft says. "It made it so much easier because of what they know -- not only about how to find a buyer but how the paperwork goes and all that."

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