I hope that this article will give it’s readers a clear action plan to get their yacht ready for sale. With the classic adage “Begin with the End in Mind” the end goal is to get the yacht sold as quickly as possible for the most money possible. Below is how I best know to make that happen with my 11 years of experience selling yachts.
Compile all Service Records
Assemble any and all service records you have into an organized and easy to digest format chronologically. If you have not been keeping the records yourself speak with your yacht service personnel and have them send to you.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects when selling, but it goes so far in making a buyer feel comfortable with the purchase he is making. Saying “I serviced the engines about a year ago, just call my mechanic” does not cut it…having an invoice from a reputable company showing exactly what was done is what is needed…if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen!
After reviewing the service records, go to step 2 and address any outstanding items
Maintenance Needs to be Up To Date
To get a buyer to pay top dollar for your yacht they need to feel comfortable knowing that they are not inheriting someone else’s problems. A buyer wants a yacht as “turn key” as possible and ready for their enjoyment…at least the ones willing to pay top $$.
So often I see someone that has “fallen out of love” with their yacht and slacked on the maintenance and upkeep, then want to sell it. Who wants to buy a boat that someone has been neglecting? If your yacht needs some TLC, give it the TLC to get her in top shape so that a buyer can see her and get wowed enough to want to buy it.
When in doubt, call your local yacht service company and have them to a top to bottom inspection on the vessel with sea trial and checking all systems. Just because your watermaker worked when you last used it a year ago does not mean that it works now…check everything now and save yourself more headaches down the road. Make sure all bilge pumps are operational, hoses and hose clamps are in good shape, etc…
Also check to make sure that your engines and generator(s) are current on their proper service intervals. Just because they run ok at cruising speed does not mean that they are current on maintenance. For instance, CAT now says that you have to replace the aftercoolers every 6 years on a C-18 and C-32 engine. If you are out of that 6 year period get new aftercoolers put on, or risk losing a buyer that does not want to mess with it…he will find another boat that has had the work done.
When in doubt ask to be sure, I am always happy to assist in this phase to make sure all is getting done that needs to!
Jimmy Rogers, CPYB
Your Yacht Must Be Cosmetically Clean and Presentable Throughout
This goes much deeper than having your local detail company give the boat quick wash! Curb appeal is extremely important and if a person feels that the boat is not crisp and clean they will wonder how neglected the rest of the boat is in areas that are not so visible. There are 3 main areas of focus here:
- Make sure that the exterior gelcoat or paint surfaces are fully buffed and waxed and have a nice shine on them.
- Have a competent fiberglass/paint technician fix any cracks, gouges or damage that is highly visible.
- Sand and brighten any teak decking and re-varnish any teak railings as needed to make them pop
- Polish any metal surfaces and fixtures so they are nice and shiny
- Clean all unnecessary items out of the exterior storage compartments and scrub clean all those compartments
- Replace any exterior cushions that are torn or sun faded
- Canvas covers are usually ok if they are faded or worn…the buyer will not usually see them as they will be removed and stored for a showing. Always good to have nice ones but not essential
- Make sure that any permanent canvas or isinglass that is up on the flybridge or elsewhere is polished up or in good order
- Before you do any cleaning, declutter as much as possible and remove as many personal effects as you can. If you still plan to use the boat while it is for sale just keep the bare minimum items aboard.
- If necessary have carpets shampooed so they are fresh and also to eliminate any odors in them
- If there are any areas of wood damage from water leakage or nicks and dings, have a wood repair person come out to repair so that it is no longer visible. Even if the source of the leak has been corrected a buyer will often need you as the seller to definitively prove that there is no longer a leak…that is near impossible to do. Better to remove any evidence of prior leakage from the equation.
- Clean out all the air handlers in the air conditioning system and if necessary place odor killing products by the air intakes.
- Have the interior fully scrubbed and cleaned like a maid would do to your house
- Have the linens and bedding washed and put back on properly
- If necessary, have the boat staged with some generic fillers that make the interior as presentable as possible…like staging a home that is for sale.
Engine Room and Bilge Spaces
- Before any cleaning is done, remove all unnecessary items from the crew quarters or engine room that do not have designated storage spaces. No clutter
- Have a company with experience in the field perform an engine room detail. Some detailers are good at this but mostly mechanics are the best as they know how to properly get rid of rust and corrosion on the different types of metal surfaces so they will not come back in a month. Common areas that need attention here are seacocks, sea strainers, rudder assemblies, motor mounts, couplers, generator drip pans, etc…
- Also make sure the floors of the engine room and bilge areas are clean and free of any oil or other fluids, place new absorbent pads under the engines
- Replace any hoses that are cracking/dry rotting and any rusty hose clamps
- DO NOT forget the other bilge spaces other than the engine room, check them all…there could be an oil slick under the bow stateroom floor hatch for example
I know that this seems like a lot! Most yachts will not need to have all of the above done as many have been properly cared for by their owners and may just need a little touch up here or there.
Now that you have a clean, presentable and up to date on maintenance Yacht, you need to keep it that way! Don’t let the time and $$’s invested in getting your yacht sale ready go to waste. Make sure that you have a plan to keep the condition up with regular system checks, washings and interior dusting/cleaning. If you wait to re-check all systems again 2 days before a buyer’s survey you could be too late! Stay on top of the maintenance and upkeep and check systems regularly for proper function.
If you are ready to put your yacht on the market but do not know where to start with the preparation effort, I can help! As a yacht broker I can assist in assembling the right personnel to get the maintenance and cosmetic items done properly as well as triage what is most important and what you can likely get away with leaving as-is.
Also I have to mention and address something that I often hear: “Well the person buying my boat has to realize that they are not buying a new boat! They cannot expect it to be perfect!”
I do empathize with this statement, however my rebuttal is that no one HAS to buy a yacht…it is not a car or a house…It is very far out there on the luxury purchase spectrum and an item that requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep. Also there are a lot of different yachts that a buyer has to choose from and it is a very emotional purchase…if it does not feel right it will not happen.
To further the point and why I feel it is worthwhile to properly prepare your yacht for sale – the optimal buyer for your yacht is someone that is willing to pay more money than anyone else – the emotional buyer that has fallen in love with your yacht and has to have it.
The more someone has to think about what maintenance items and repairs need to be done after they buy a yacht, the less emotional they will be about the purchase, which in turn lowers the yacht’s perceived value to the buyer. I.E they start thinking in pure terms of how cheap they need to buy your yacht for to account for the repairs and maintenance they need to do…that thought process never goes well for the seller.
Even a “Well just adjust the price to account for what a buyer will need to do to fix up my yacht!” scenario often goes badly for the seller. The buyer will invariably give a healthy margin in his favor here to account for his time and effort to do the repairs under his watch (he will ALWAYS perceive his time to be worth WAY more than you think it is).
In just about every circumstance I have encountered, it is always beneficial to a seller to get his or her yacht fixed up and in top shape prior to putting up for sale, it is worth the extra effort! For instance, spending $30,000 in maintenance and upkeep can often result in getting $100,000 extra in re-sale vs. selling as-is…not to mention it will sell much faster!
With the above items accounted for and your yacht ready to sell, a well known, experienced and savvy yacht broker (like myself 😉) can compile an extensive media portfolio to present your yacht in the best way that will appeal directly to the type of person that will be most interested in your yacht.
See some of my walkthrough videos for example:
A clean and well maintained yacht that is properly presented and priced to the market will be the first to sell!
Jimmy Rogers is co-founder of the Tom George Yacht Group and currently is very active in the yacht brokerage community as well as the yacht and brokerage division manager. He has achieved great success in both new construction yachts and brokerage through his energy and drive, industry contacts and passion for the yachting lifestyle!