If you’re a first-time boat owner, or even a second or third-time one, selling a boat isn’t something you do every day. Once you’ve decided to sell your vessel, how do you find a buyer and know if you are setting the right price? There are a few essential steps to navigate. This blog explains the basics of selling a boat and the best way to achieve a timely sale.

Preparing to sell your boat

To achieve your boat’s optimum price, ensure it is in tip-top condition. Remember, a buyer will scrutinise your boat to ensure there won’t be unexpected repairs!

Make sure your boat is cleaned thoroughly (including the hull) and any repairs and maintenance are up to date. A poorly maintained boat can languish on the market for years.

While boat surveys are usually commissioned by boat buyers, you may wish to arrange a marine survey yourself to determine your boat’s condition and market value.

Setting the price can be tricky, so it’s crucial to research market rates. The age and condition of your boat should be taken into consideration.

In our complete guide, you can read more about how to prepare to sell your boat.

What documents do you need for the sale of a boat?

Getting your boat’s paperwork in order is a good idea before putting it on the market. Knowing what documents are required and having them on hand when ready to sell will save time later.

Proof of legal ownership is essential. So, how do you prove a boat is yours? What documents do you need?

Proof of ownership is evidenced by a Bill of Sale from the previous owner to you. In order for a boat to be able to be financed, five years of ownership will need to be proved, along with a collection of key documents, including:

  • The Builders Certificate (not essential but helpful)
  • All previous Bills of Sale
  • The original invoice to evidence the boat is VAT paid
  • Registration documentation if the boat is registered with the MCA
  • Proof of Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) compliance, or EU RCR equivalent as applicable
  • Maintenance documents/invoices, including financial records and receipts for any large repair bills
  • Owner’s manual and any manuals for equipment on the boat
  • Financial records and receipts for any large repair bills

If you’ve had a recent marine survey undertaken, this document is also valuable to show potential buyers. It can be a good idea to put together a specification sheet you can send to potential buyers who make enquiries and anticipate some of the questions they may ask so you are ready with the answers.

Why use a broker to sell a boat?

The biggest conundrum for those wanting to sell their boat is whether to use a broker or to sell privately. Personal circumstances will determine the pros and cons of each. For example, if you have time on your hands, and aren’t in a hurry to sell, are savvy about online advertising, and don’t want to pay brokerage fees, selling privately may suit you fine.

However, there are many advantages of selling your boat through a broker; despite paying a fee, the money spent can be worth every penny. And, if your burning question is, “How can I sell my boat faster?” then using a broker might be the best route.

Here are the key benefits of selling a boat through a broker:

Your broker will …

  • Look after the boat
  • Deal with the advertising, including photos and specification
  • Publicise your boat across multiple advertising portals
  • Ensure your boat is clean for viewings
  • Meet with potential buyers and arrange viewings and sea or river trials
  • Liaise and assist with surveyors
  • Arrange for any necessary rectification work
  • Negotiate the best price
  • Handle the legal paperwork
  • Safeguard funds until completion

Where is the best place to sell a boat online?

It is possible to sell your boat without using a broker, but you may need to be patient and invest some time and money to advertise online.

Advertising (organically) on Facebook is free and might generate interest, but you may receive more enquiries from window shoppers than serious buyers – and there’s a good chance you won’t get any traction at all.

To reach serious buyers individuals can use a couple of the portals that professional marine brokers use, including Rightboat and Boats And Outboards.

Ad rates for suitable sites can mount up, but you will be getting in front of your target audience. Conversely, only opting for free online advertising is unlikely to get the reach or traction you need.

What is the best time of year to sell a boat?

Boats are bought and sold all year round, so there’s no ‘best time of year’ to sell a boat. However, the sunny spring weather may pique the interest of more potential buyers.

How long does it take to sell a boat?

How long it takes to sell your boat from start to finish depends on how long it takes to find a buyer. However, once you’ve locked in the sale, the selling process can be relatively fast – usually around three weeks from when the deposit is paid depending on survey results.

Selling a boat through a broker generally makes the whole selling process, from going to market, finding a buyer, and transferring ownership, much tighter.

How do I transfer ownership of a boat in the UK?

To legally transfer the ownership of a boat in the UK in a recognised way you’ll need a Bill of Sale. This document outlines the terms of the transaction between the private seller and the buyer. It is the most important document you must have ready for your boat’s sale.

Requirements for a Bill of Sale in the UK include:

  • Identification of the vessel, including length, a description and any official number
  • Vendor and Purchaser names and addresses
  • Purchase date and price
  • The signature of the seller(s), witnessed by an independent person

Get help selling your boat

Need help to sell your boat? We can help you.

Val Wyatt Marine offers a complete professional boat brokerage sales service. Our sales service includes advice and support, safeguarding funds, and ensuring that the process, paperwork and transfer proceed smoothly.

We will look after and promote your boat while marketing to a broad audience for a more extensive list of potential buyers, and advise you on the best price to sell at. We take care of viewings and regularly clean your vessel so potential buyers always see it in its best light. In addition, the legalities and paperwork couldn’t be in safer hands.

Please get in touch to learn more about how we can help you with the stress-free sale of your boat.