Selling Up

Neil Chapman, founder of Boatshed

Neil Chapman, founder of Boatshed

When the time comes to sell your pride and joy, it can often be a difficult and emotional time. Neil Chapman, founder of Boatshed, shares his top tips for smooth sailing when it comes to selling.


At Boatshed we have now been involved in the sale of over 20,000 boats, so we understand a little bit about the emotions from both a seller’s and a buyer’s perspective.

There are obviously lots of ways that you can sell your boat these days, either by using a broker, selling it privately or using some of the auction tools available via the web. Whichever way you choose to sell your boat, there are a few fundamental rules and pieces of information that can help.

Condition and cleanliness

It can be tempting sometimes to let the fact that you may have fallen out of love with your boat reflect in its condition. Badly maintained or dirty boats can put off potential purchasers, so think clean, clean, clean. We have all read the clichés about being able to “eat your dinner off the engine room floor” but, unfortunately, cleanliness of upholstery, kitchen fittings, general deck and storage areas is often lacking.

You can either use a professional valeting company or, alternatively, some of your own elbow grease, but one important pieces of advice is to get it very, very clean and keep it clean.

Pay particular attention to the boat’s smell too. I am not talking about filling it full of air fresheners, but making sure that it does not smell of diesel or old food or general mustiness. Remember, we are trying to get someone to fall in love with the boat and therefore cleanliness is a really important part.


Setting the price

Unfortunately, everything in the used boat market is about price and because there is no reliable source of pricing information and because “everyone’s boat is the best boat in the world,” price is a subject that will require you to undertake some serious thought and soul searching.

Our experience points to the fact that generally boats are anything between 10 percent and 30 per cent overpriced. If you are considering selling, do your research in terms of what other boats are available. From an internet traffic and interest perspective, the cheapest boat for a given brand and model in the marketplace will receive as much interest as all of the other boats currently for sale. This means that, if you have the stomach for it, making sure your boat is advertised at the lowest possible price is really important to get lots of attention in a busy marketplace.

Upgrades & improvements

Talking of price, what about all of those additions, improvements and equipment? Well, the bad news here for sellers is that, whilst equipment upgrades and new gear can help sell the boat, it tends to affect the sales value very little. New engine two years ago? New navigation equipment? New auto pilot? All of these things are expensive, but do not expect to get the full value of your investment back.


Yes, the dreaded ‘D’ word. It seems that every boat owner enters a fantasy world when they own a boat, thinking that for some reason depreciation does not exist in a nautical environment. Our data suggests that boats actually depreciate at a rate similar to cars. It is worth doing a little more investigation as to whether your boat is depreciating like a Land Rover Defender or a Dacia Duster.


My final piece of boat sales info for this discussion is transparency. Make sure that you are absolutely clear and honest about all the strengths and weaknesses of a particular boat. Boatshed’s process of visiting every boat, photographing it, videoing it and spending time with the owner enables us to get a handle on the “ground truth” about all the boats we sell. We find this is vital to the process of successfully selling boats. Waiting until a potential viewing or even a survey is conducted for a purchaser to find out faults is one way to possibly spoil a deal.

So there we have it. Keep it clean, price it right and be completely honest about how good or bad it is.

Other points to bear in mind: marketing, fender kickers, negotiation, physical showings, surveys, seatrials, VAT, finance, ownership transfer, contracts, liens, client accounts, security of funds and so on, but this is where a good broker also earns their fees.



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