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Think Like a Buyer—and a Seller


“It is across-the-board busy right now,” says Eric Sass, a broker with Galati Yacht Sales. “I attribute it to the economy. I attribute it to a very good spring—usually the harder the winter, the better the spring. This year wasn’t a super-hard winter, but people are ready to start getting back into boating.”

To buyers, that means be ready to make a move if you see a boat you may want to buy. Here’s a simplified explanation of why: Inventory levels are down. Many buyers would ordinarily be looking at the sweet spot of three- to five-year-old boats, but those are few and far between thanks to the economic downturn that slowing production in that time period. So those buyers have to go somewhere, and they are considering newer models as well as reaching back farther in history to find the quality, well-kept boats from the past.

Eric Sass, Galati Yacht Sales.

Eric Sass, Galati Yacht Sales

“I’ve got good willing sellers,” Sass says. “The first thing that I tell anybody as a buyer: You’ve got to buy quality not price. If you buy by price, you’re going to get exactly what you pay for. But if you buy quality you’re going to get a good boat at a very good price.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Of course, not every boat is the same. It’s just like the boat owners that some models attract. Some types of boats aren’t always kept up with the same level of quality. “Sometimes when I speak to a potential seller, he’ll tell me the boat is in terrific condition,” says Scott Schneider of United Yacht Sales. “And then I’ll go and see it and it’s not. I’m not looking to waste anyone’s time. If you want to sell a boat for a certain price, it may take some time and investment to get it to the level where it needs to be.” Some sellers don’t want to hear that.

“If you spend the money to keep a boat serviced and maintained, your odds at being able to sell the boat quickly and for more money are dramatically increased,” Schneider says. “But if you don’t, you time to sell will be extended and your selling price will be directly impacted to the downside.”

Scott Schneider, United Yacht.

Scott Schneider, United Yacht Sales

One key to selling your boat the right way: Work with the right people. “Have a good broker who knows the market, and who is willing to tell a seller what really needs to be done,” Sass says. “You don’t want someone who’s trying just to get the listing. Have somebody who is straightforward with you and will tell you what needs to be fixed.”

The broker knows far better than you what’s out there, what the prices are, and how the competition for buyers’ dollars is shaping up. “If there’s a boat in bad condition, it’s just a trainwreck waiting to happen from a broker’s perspective,” Sass says. “When you get the offer—and it’s usually a low price—and then we survey the boat. If the boat doesn’t pass survey, then nobody wins, so do your homework.”

And listen to your broker. “Consider getting a pre-sale survey,” Schneider says. “Be proactive, know what you’ve got, and fix the things that are broken.” And then you’ll sell the boat you have and be ready to pull the trigger when the next boat of your dreams comes along.

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