The old cliché ‘presentation is everything’ rings true for real estate as it does with boats, particularly when it comes to recreational (White) luxury boats, but is it that easy?
Although it sounds simple enough, in over twenty year in boat sales, it still surprises me to see how many sellers can’t grasp this concept!
Remember, creating an exceptional first impression is critical but this is however just a part of the whole sales process. Give a buyer an initial wow factor and they will mentally be more forgiving of any issues their surveyors may pick up during the pre-purchase inspections. Leaving the buyer feeling cold when they first step aboard could see them negotiate harder on price, or simply walk away.
You may have a full mechanical service history and the engines could well be in top shape, but if the buyer pokes his head in the engine room to find the bilge is filthy and the insulation hanging from the ceiling, he will assume the engines have been maintained with the same disregard.
Sometimes you need a third party to come by and advise. Lets face it, I am no different in my own home, after a while you just don’t see things that seem like clutter to others. Fresh eyes offer a great, objective and unemotional perspective and an experienced marine broker is the perfect choice to give advice about the overall presentation of your, potentially beautiful boat.
In short, if you want to get the best resale price, your boat should present better when going to market than when you purchased it.
Ultimately, there is a buyer for every boat, in broad terms a sale comes down to three things….
PRESENTATION – PROMOTION – PRICE.
In simple terms, your boat has to look attractive to entice a buyer to make the enquiry. The best promotion in the world won’t sell a boat that looks like it’s been through a cyclone. Once you have the presentation sorted you will need to promote her into the right market. If the phone still isn’t ringing then you need to revisit the asking price.
Sellers must first focus their attention on these key items:
- Visual presentation
- Mechanical presentation and engine performance
- Maintenance history
- Choose your Broker carefully
- Negotiating the Sale
1. Visual Presentation
- Before you should even consider putting your boat to market, remove exposed clutter from both inside and out, this includes personal items sitting on shelves, benches or decks.
- Clean out cupboards, remove the rancid sponge and rusty flyspray can from under the sink and then de-stain rust marks left on shelves.
- Replace warn out or torn clear wind screens or covers, or simply remove them if practical.
- Hopefully you have had your boat polished regularly but regardless, ensure it is polished before it goes to market…and keep it clean with regular detailing.
- You may love fishing, but the smell of fish onboard and scales in the carpet will be offensive to most luxury boat buyers. Steam clean the carpets and remove stains. Replace if required.
- Make the interior look fresh and clean, not boring. Use conservative colours that appeal to the majority of people. Display homes and new boats are a good guide as a template for current trends. Companies like Motoryachts Unlimited offer a styling service.
- If your boat has teak decks, remove stains, repair split boards and replace corking if required, brighten and seal.
- Clean the waterline to remove any algae.
Pictures speak a thousand words
- The potential buyer of your boat will undoubtedly engage a marine engine surveyor, so it’s best you ask your mechanic for a full report prior to going to market so you can have repaired any mechanical issues before the buyer’s surveyor picks them up.
- Run the engines at full power for a few minutes to ensure they do not overheat. This is the first thing a mechanical surveyor will do on a pre purchase test run. 80% of vessels I have sold have overheating issues. This will delay and sometimes terminate a sale. Obviously if they do overheat, you will need to remedy the issue. If the heat exchangers have not been removed in ten years, you can guarantee the buyers mechanic will be recommending this be done urgently, thus complicating the sale.
- Ensure the engines are achieving specified RPM under load at wide open throttle. If they do not, this will be another negative in the eyes of the buyers surveyor.
- Remove any obvious rust from the engines and touch up the paintwork. (This is often referred to as the Dulux rebuild) Rust is common around engine mounts and under raw water pumps in most boats.
- Every through hull fitting below the water line should be fitted with a shut off valve (Sea cock, gate valve or ball valve). Ensure these all move freely and can be shut off when required. Seized valves will make it difficult for the buyer to insure the boat.
Ensure there are no toilet smells permeating through the cabins. This will hit your buyers as they enter the cabin and immediately turn them off. Remedy at the source.
3. Maintenance History
Compile a file with a history of mechanical maintenance. Leave this onboard for buyers and their mechanic to flick through.
Maintain the antifouling and keep the hull clean so it will perform at its best and is ready for a test run at short notice.
TIP: If you carry out your own engine service, ensure you keep a well documented log book of the work carried out including receipts for parts replaced. No service records and the buyer will assume your boat has never been serviced! You need evidence, without this your broker may struggle to sell your boat.
4. Choose Your Broker Carefully
Of course, a positive customer impression doesn’t stop with the presentation of your boat, it’s just one part of the strategy to attract a buyer.
Choose your broker carefully – You don’t always get what you pay for. Certainly don’t give your boat to the first person who walks down the jetty and says he sells boats, do some background research first, after all, you wouldn’t give you house to sell by the first real estate agent you bumped into!
Don’t necessarily go for the broker who offers the lowest selling fee either, this may show desperation in the salesperson or company and this also may reflect on how they present themselves and your boat to potential buyers – desperate!
Experience comes with age and time, not necessarily in that order. A broker who has been in the industry for decades will obviously have more experience in certain areas than one who has only recently started out. Engage a company that looks outside the square, is innovative in their approach, up to date with marketing trends and dedicated to the sale of your type of boat.
Pressuring your broker for a low commission rate may also backfire. The pot of gold at the close of the sale generally drives a salesperson. If you offer a success fee well below that being offered by other customers who have their boat listed for sale, then the broker may direct customer enquires to the vessel that will make them the most money, as a result, yours may end up sitting on the market forever!
There is a saying in the motor yacht broking industry….‘List your boat for sale with everyone, list it with no one’.
List your vessel with everyone and you may not be getting maximum effort from the broker as he will have other vessels exclusively listed for sale where he is guaranteed a return and will focus his efforts. This broker can always conjunct with other brokers if they have a potential buyer, so you are not necessarily going to miss out on capturing other buyers.
Invest in your broker and he will invest in you!
Marketing strategy is also critical and by this I don’t just mean the wording of the ad. Marketing strategy extends to the reputation of the broker, their advertising penetration into the market place and their actual success rate. Ask round. Some of the best people to ask are trades people from within the industry and owners who have recently sold their boats.
Social media now plays a huge part in marketing so if your broker does not have a presence in this arena, you may be falling short of your target market.
6. Negotiating the Sale
So your broker has managed to attract a buyer for your luxury boat and an offer has been presented. The offer falls short of what you were hoping for but you don’t want to lose the sale. The next piece of advice your broker shares with you is the most critical and can make or break a deal… it all comes down to the negotiation.
It’s not until you have completed a few negotiation courses that you realise the importance of a good negotiator. Looking back on many of my sales prior to being educated in this area, I understand how I could have achieved a better result for my sellers. I may have been able to either lever more money in the seller’s favour, saved them money in the transaction, or simply saved the sale.
This is where experience is invaluable!
If you’d like to learn a little more about the best way to sell your luxury boat, I’d be happy to sit down with you over a coffee for a free 1 hour one on one session.
+61 409 620 336
Fremantle Western Australia