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Used Boat Values: A Guide to Pricing Your Boat

If it’s come time to sell your boat then the first step in the sales process is to figure out how much it’s worth. Setting a value for a used boat isn’t an exact science, and there are many factors which can affect it. One of the top questions we get asked at Rightboat is ‘what is my boat worth?’ Our answer is always the same: there is a golden rule to pricing a boat. You can ask as much as you want for your boat, but it’s only worth what the current market supports. Essentially that figure is what others have paid for similar yachts. 

Here we take a look at how you can value your boat ready for sale.





Pricing a Used Boat


Putting a price on your used boat can be tricky. It’s human nature (and common sense) to want to get the most for your asset as possible, but finding that sweet spot which attracts buyers, makes it competitive on the used boat market and gives you a satisfactory return isn’t always straightforward. Start the pricing process by following these steps:


  • Research the competition: To find what others have paid for similar boats then do your homework and see what others are charging for the same model boat as yours. Be sure to compare everything from the condition and equipment list, to its location and how it was used (freshwater vs saltwater boats). As the market dictates the pricing, keep in mind that just because a boat is listed for a high price, doesn’t mean anyone will pay it.


  • Decide on your minimum price: While the market dictates the price, you do need to know what the lowest figure you will accept is. It might be governed by how much you need for a new boat or how much there is left on your marine mortgage. 


  • Be open to offers: When deciding on what the minimum price you’ll accept is, factor in that buyers make want to make an offer. Adding Or Best Offers’ or ‘Offers in the Region of’ is a good tactic to get more buyer interest as they will feel there is wiggle room. 


Pricing a Used Boat by Type, Model and Specifications


In the same way that there are valuation tools for cars, there are also websites which will offer you used boat values. While not every model is listed, and the value will depend hugely on the condition of your boat, it’s another source you can use to get the final asking price right. In the US, websites such as JD Power, NADA Guides or Kelley Blue Book offer simple ways to look up your boat’s value. The process is simple:


  1. Browse by boat type: Select the type of boat i.e. whether it’s a power boat, sailboat or personal watercraft
  2. Choose the make and model: Refine your search with the make and model
  3. Enter your zip code: where you live will make a difference to the value of your boat
  4. Customize your search: You can then further refine your search by selecting everything from engine size to the type of canvas, fishing equipment, electronics, entertainment features, galley amenities and more. 
  5. Get your valuation: You will be presented with three boat value estimates; a suggested list price, a low retail price and an average retail price. 


Increasing a Used Boat’s Value


There are many things you can do to your boat to add value to it before you list it for sale. By putting in that extra effort now, not only might you get more money for your boat, but it will likely sell faster too. And imagine how appealing it will look on the sales photos and videos if it’s in tip top shape. Things you can consider doing include:


  • Perform Regular Maintenance: This might seem obvious, but a regular, proven maintenance schedule is worth its weight in gold to prospective buyers as it provides reassurance and confidence in the boat’s condition. Stay on top of maintenance throughout your boat ownership, it’s easier and cheaper to maintain than to replace. 


  • Offer an Impressive Equipment List: A long equipment list is very appealing to buyers, and certainly adds value, so you might want to consider including (or investing in) items such as life jackets, flares, watersports gear or fishing equipment. Likewise, installing some of the latest electronics will certainly give your boat a modern make over. Media control centers, onboard WiFi, speakers or FishFinders are highly sought after. 


  • Upgrade the Interior: Giving the interior a good spruce can make a huge difference to your boat’s value. You could upgrade the fabrics and salon cushions, update the portholes or windows, or replace interior vinyl or carpets. And don’t forget the galley, some new décor and gadgets can give your boat a major facelift. For more advice check out our guide on Boat Interior Restoration Tips. 


  • Set the Stage: In the same way that house sellers stage their homes for sale, you can do the same with your boat. Clear out all of your personal possessions and get your boat looking catalogue ready by adding a few strategically placed home comforts and décor pieces. 



What Factors Affect the Price of a Boat?


  • Boat brand and model: Certain brands and specific models will be valued higher than some similar models. Generally, well-known brands or award-winning models that are highly sought after and have a good reliability record will have a higher price tag.
  • Age and Engine Hours: As with used cars, the age of a boat will affect its price. It makes sense that the older a boat, the lower the price tag (unless it’s a classic). Having said that however, an older boat that hasn’t been used much and whose engine has fewer hours on the clock (but maintained well) could be worth more than a newer boat of the same model which has been heavily used. Keep in mind though that an older boat that has been unused might not have been well maintained. 
  • Condition: As we’ve seen above, the condition of your boat makes a big impact on the value. Keeping a strict maintenance schedule, doing regular repairs and taking care of the interior will go a long way to ensuring your boat is at the top end of its valuation bracket.
  • Equipment: A long list of good quality and relatively new equipment certainly adds value to your boat (often more value than the equipment is worth new).


messy boat

A messy boat filled with personal possessions will put prospective buyers off.


Common Mistakes when Pricing a Used Boat


  • Pricing it too high: Quite simply, the number one mistake people make when pricing their boat is pricing it too high. Trying to get more for your boat than the market is willing to pay will end up in frustration and wasted time. 
  • Putting too many emotions into the decision: Sometimes owners put so much time, money and passion into their boat that can value it more highly than the market does. Try to remain objective and unemotional about your pricing. 
  • Not being realistic about the boat’s condition: Again it’s easy to see your boat through rose-tinted glasses and overlook some of the areas of your boat that might need attention. Comparing the same model in a better condition that yours and giving it the same price tag won’t generate lots of interest. 


Check our detailed guide: How to Sell Your Boat


Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

More from: Samantha Wilson

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