How do you price your boat for sale? Ask too much and no one will want more information; ask too little and shoppers will wonder what’s wrong.

Research the market value

To set a realistic price, you must educate yourself about the market for your particular boat. Start by checking relevant websites where prices and boat valuations are shown. Unless it is a one-off, custom design, or very specialised, there will be other boats like yours for sale.

boat valuations how to set the right price for your boat

Your starting price can make or break the sale of your boat.

How do you define “like yours?” If several boats of the same model and year are available, it will be easy to compare — the only variables left are maintenance and optional extras. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples. For a more unusual boat, look at the asking prices of boats with the same type, size, and age.

While vehicle pricing for cars is closely tied to the Red Book, and actually the Red Book does offer a boat category, boat values in Australia are not nearly so cut and dried. A pair of boats that came out of the same mould 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 on.

When you have a feel for the price range of boats like yours, evaluate your boat’s value within that range. If you have a loan on your boat, check to see the exact pay-off amount, including any balloon payments or other charges. Use that to set the rock bottom sale 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, sold at the end of the season belongs at the bottom of the price 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.

Tips to increase your boat value

  1. Save all maintenance records

  2. Wash and polish at least once a season

  3. Cover the boat when not in use and especially in the winter

  4. Follow manufacturer instructions for maintenance schedules

  5. On sailboats, inspect the mast annually and replace fatigued rigging

  6. Rinse trailers thoroughly, especially when used in salt water

Written by: Carol Cronin
Carol Cronin has published several novels about the Olympics, sailing, hurricanes, time travel, and old schooners. She spends as much time on the water as possible, in a variety of boats, though most have sails.