Empire Yacht Sales is having a great year. We’ve sold so many boats that we nearly ran out of boats to sell! It’s pretty obvious to us what makes a boat sell in this market – it has to be clean, neat and in sail away condition. Yes, there are a few folks out there who enjoy spending their summers cleaning, and decluttering and polishing their boat, but most people don’t want the hassle.

Following are some basic common-sense dos and don’ts, which will speed the sales process and maximize the boat’s value.


  1. Clean your boat. Wash the deck and wax the hull. Pull up the floorboards (as the customer will) and clean the bilge thoroughly. Air it out to eliminate musty odors. Appearance is everything. It means quicker offers and more value for your boat. Don’t have the time for this. Ask your marina yard to do it. It’s much cheaper than you think, and they are likely to do a better job too.
  2. Tweak your engine rooms. Engines should run smooth and look clean. Most buyers will check the oil and it should be clean.
  3. Teak, canvas and gelcoat. People never clean teak and customers always notice. Investing a few dollars to spruce up woodwork above and below deck literally can add thousands to the sales price. If your canvas has separated seams, they should be re-stitched, windows should be clear, and all snaps and zippers should work. Gelcoat scrapes should be repaired, as should any tears in the upholstery.
  4. Get rid of the clutter. Clear out extra gear, old lines, food, non-essential items and personal belongings, and tidy up the cabin, lockers and lazarettes. Arrange any spare equipment that you plan to sell with the boat neatly. Clutter makes a boat seem smaller than it is.
  5. Paint the bottom. A routine pressure cleaning and a fresh coat of bottom paint present another cost-effective way to improve a boat’s appearance. Osmotic hull deterioration (blisters) is detrimental to selling the boat, you owe it to the broker and the buyer to have it surveyed and repaired or to acknowledge it before putting an affected boat on the market.
  6. Make minor repairs. All basic gear, lines, hardware, and electronics should be in good working order. If you find yourself mentally agonizing over something—fix it. Fill in any stress cracks, however minor, and repair any holes created by equipment that has been removed.
  7. Include basic equipment. Leaving an adequate supply of lifejackets, fenders, and dock lines won’t cost you much but it will help create a turnkey impression in a buyer’s mind that will hasten a sale.
  8. Provide an inventory. Drawing up a list of what is to be included in the sale supplies the broker and customers with valuable information and helps to avoid any misunderstandings later. Buyers normally assume that everything they see on the boat will be theirs, so remove favorite tools and other items you intend on keeping before showing the boat.
  9. Set a reasonable price. While most sellers don’t want to invest an inordinate amount of money or labor in preparing a boat for sale, they also tend to overvalue their proud possession. Ultimately, it is the market, not the seller that will determine the selling price.


  1. Don’t load up on extras. Sellers who’ve added expensive accessories, such as fancy electronics packages, shouldn’t expect to recoup their investment on these items from buyers. It may make the boat more valuable to you, but might not interest the buyer. Conversely, don’t try to make off with basic gear such as you compass or anchor chain. Remember, a boat is apt to sell more easily when the buyer is satisfied that he is getting exactly what he needs, not spending money on or being assessed for superfluous extras.
  2. Don’t make major repairs. Unless you have to, major repairs like a new engine, should be reflected in the price and dealt with up front. Many buyers, are looking for an as-is project boat at a reasonable price.
  3. Don’t overcompensate. Your boat should be neither worse nor suspiciously better than others of its age and class. Consistency in both condition and asking price is what the seller should strive for.

By: Capt. Dave Eshbaugh