How To Sell Your Boat (7 Steps)

Paul Stockdale Author Avatar
Written by Paul Stockdale | January 22, 2023
Boat selling tips

When selling a boat, a boat owner will seek to get the most money for their vessel.

There are 7 steps to follow to sell your boat for the best price.

To sell your boat:

  1. Prepare the boat for potential buyers
  2. Prepare all the relevant boat ownership documents
  3. Create photos and a video of the boat
  4. Find a price to sell the boat
  5. Advertise the vessel
  6. Negotiate a price with potential buyers
  7. Receive payment and transfer ownership

1. Prepare The Boat For Potential Buyers

The first step in selling your boat is to prepare the boat for potential buyers.

To prepare the boat for potential buyers, clean the boat thoroughly and repair any damaged parts.

Cleaning the boat involves removing all the dirt from the boat's exterior and interior. Use warm water, soap and a pressure washer to remove dirt from areas like the hull, deck, deck railings and engine area.

Use a vacuum or warm water and a sponge to remove dirt from the boat's interior area.

Cleaning the boat will improve the overall aesthetics which will make selling it much easier.

Before listing the boat for sale, the boat seller should repair any damaged parts on the boat too. Repairing any damaged parts can increase the boat's selling price.

Cleaning a boat can increase the boat's selling price by 5% to 10%. Repairing the boat can increase the boat's value by 10% to 20%.

2. Prepare All The Relevant Boat Ownership Documents

The second step of selling a boat is to prepare all the boat documents required for the boat buyer.

The boat documents required when selling a boat are:

  • Boat title: The boat title is a proof of boat ownership document and it is very important to have this document when selling the vessel to ensure the buyer is not buying a stolen boat. Once the boat is sold, this document will need to be transferred to the buyer
  • Bill of sale: The bill of sale is a legally required document in America that will outline the terms of the boat transaction between the buyer and seller. It is responsible for legally transferring the boat ownership from the seller to the buyer. It is usually a 1-page or 2-page document
  • Maintenance records: The maintenance records are important for a seller to provide to the buyer as they will provide information on all the work and repairs carried out on the boat
  • Warranty certificate (where applicable): If the boat has a warranty on it that hasn't expired and can be transferred to the new boat buyer, provide the new buyer with the boat warranty certificate. This is very valuable to a buyer and it can increase the selling price
  • Parts receipts: A boat seller should prepare all the receipts for the spare parts that were purchased for the boat and give them to the seller to view

Providing these boat documents to the buyer will instill confidence and help with selling the vessel faster.

Having all these documents is a method of increasing the boat's value and it enables a seller to charge more for the boat.

3. Create Photos & A Video Of The Boat

The third step of selling a boat is to create photos and a video of the boat that is for sale.

The photos and video of the boat are needed for the advertisement and to showcase the vessel to the buyers.

Take high-quality photos of every section of the boat's exterior and interior for the advertisement.

When selling a boat, sellers should take at least 10 photos of the boat and make 1 video.

Take photos of the boat when it is in the water and take hull photos when the boat is out of the water on a trailer.

Take the photos in the png and jpeg format for the best image quality and do not compress the images as this will cause the photos to lose some clarity.

Ensure the photos are taken on a bright sunny day and make sure there is nothing in the background that would distract potential buyers.

Use your cell phone to record a high-quality video of every part of the boat so buyers can see every part of the boat in detail.

When selling a boat, making a video of the boat is an added bonus that can help sell the vessel faster and it helps an advertisement to stand out compared to other advertisement listings.

4. Find The Best Price To Sell The Boat

The fourth step of selling a boat is to find a price to sell the boat.

To find the best price to sell a boat:

  • Research boat classified websites pricing: Browse boat classified websites to see what prices similar make and model boats are selling for on those websites to give an idea of how to price your boat properly
  • Hire a marine surveyor to value the boat: A seller can hire a marine surveyor to value the boat and give a price to sell it for. A marine survey will cost between $15 to $25 per foot of boat. This is optional and not necessary in most cases
  • Ask for boat pricing information in boat forums: A seller can ask for pricing information in boating forums. People in boat forums can be very knowledgeable on boating topics and may provide useful pricing information

The cheapest way to price a boat for sale is to browse the boat classified websites or boat forums for free.

Browsing these websites will give a seller a good indication of what a boat is worth.

5. Advertise The Vessel

The fifth step of selling a boat is to advertise the vessel to potential buyers.

To advertise the boat:

  • Place boat-for-sale ads on Facebook: Put an ad on the Facebook marketplace and Facebook groups with detailed boat information including the price, description, photos and a video of the boat
  • Place advertisements on boat-classified websites: Put ads on boat-classified websites like or Listing fees on these sites are approximately $70
  • Hire a broker to advertise the boat: A seller can hire a broker to place boat-for-sale advertisements. A broker can advertise to their private buyers too
  • Place ads in local newspapers or boating magazines: A seller can place a boat for sale ad in their local newspaper or in boating magazines. This will cost approximately $80 to $120 to do

When advertising the boat, provide 10 or more photos and detailed information about the boat in the ad so potential buyers are fully informed.

We recommend starting with advertising on the Facebook marketplace and in Facebook groups first as this is free and can generate interested buyers.

6. Negotiate A Price With Potential Buyers

The sixth step of selling a boat is to meet with potential buyers and negotiate a price with them.

Sellers will meet with the potential buyers and showcase the boat in person. Offering sea trails is helpful to increase the chances of a potential sale too.

To prepare for sea trials and price negotiations, ensure there is enough fuel in the motor and that everything on the boat is in working order and as advertised.

Buyers will have many questions that sellers will need to answer. These questions are about the condition of the boat, any potential issues, whether there's an outstanding loan on the boat, etc.

When meeting with buyers to showcase the boat and negotiate a price, be aware that some buyers are just looking for a free boat ride and have no interest in buying the boat.

During the negotiation period, serious buyers will try and get a reduction in the price. If a seller wants a quick sale, a 5% price reduction could secure the sale.

7. Receive Payment And Transfer Ownership

The seventh step of selling a boat is to receive payment and transfer ownership to the new owner.

To receive payment when selling the boat, give the appropriate bank details to the buyer for them to pay or choose a payment method that suits both the buyer and seller.

Once the boat has been paid in full, provide all the relevant documents to the buyer.

To transfer ownership of the boat to the new buyer, provide the buyer with the bill of sale document and the boat title certificate.

Never hand over the keys of the boat or any boat ownership documentation until the vessel has been paid for in full.

To avoid fraud, wait until the money is visible in your bank account before handing over ownership of the boat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Selling A Boat

Below are the most commonly asked questions about selling a boat.

How Do You Sell A Boat Fast?

To sell a boat fast, advertise the boat for sale at a discount to the current market value as discount buyers will be eager to get a cheaper boat. Makign a video of the vessel helps the boat to stand out in advertisements which can speed up the selling process. Placing the boat for sale in Facebook groups and on the Facebook marketplace will speed up the time it takes to sell too.

How Do You Sell A Boat For Free?

A boat can go be sold for free by placing a boat-for-sale advertisement in Facebook groups or on the Facebook marketplace. Boaters can place boat for sale signs in local marinas for free too but this will depend on the specific marina's own rules.

How Do You Sell A Boat Without Getting Scammed?

To sell a boat and not get scammed:

  • Do not hand over the boat or boat ownership documents until the full amount of money is in your bank account
  • Do not accept payment for the boat in payment installments as the buyer may pay one installment and disappear with the vessel
  • Be vigilant with the bank information you give to the boat buyer for sending the money. Only give them the required information to transfer money. You will never need to give a buyer access to your bank account for them to pay for the vessel
  • If the buyer pays by check, wait until the check clears before handing over ownership of the boat to the buyer and explain this clearly to the buyer before they pay by check
  • If a buyer emails you inquiring about your boat for sale and there are links in the email they send, do not click on the links in the email as it could be a virus or scam

Following these steps should assist with avoiding fraud when selling your boat.

How Do You Sell A Boat Offline?

To sell a boat offline, publish boat-for-sale advertisements in local newspapers or in boating magazines where there will be readers interested in buying a boat. Alternatively, visit boat dealerships and see if they would be interested in buying your boat or place a boat for sale sign on your boat when it's at the marina.

How Do You Sell A Boat Online?

To sell a boat online, publish boat-for-sale advertisements on online websites like, Facebook marketplace,,, or auction site and then show potential boat buyers the boat over a zoom call or a Facetime call.

What Is The Best Way Of Selling A Boat?

The best way of selling a boat is by placing boat advertisements on the Facebook marketplace and on boat classified websites like or

What Is The Worst Way Of Selling A Boat?

The worst way of selling a boat is by putting advertisements on walls in local marina buildings as these advertisements are rarely seen by people and it will take a long time to sell the vessel doing this method.

What Are The Best Websites For Selling A Boat?

The best websites for selling a boat are:

  • Facebook Marketplace & Facebook Groups
  • eBay

How Long Does It Take To Sell A Boat?

A boat will typically take between 30 days and 60 days to sell. However, this timeframe will vary based on the time of year, the type of boat being sold, the price of the boat and where it's being advertised.

What Is The Cheapest Way Of Selling A Boat?

The cheapest way of selling a boat is by placing a boat for sale advertisement in Facebook groups or on Facebook marketplace. This is free to do.

What Is The Most Expensive Way Of Selling A Boat?

The most expensive way of selling a boat is by using a boat broker to sell the vessel for you. A boat broker will usually charge 10% to 15% of the purchase price when the boat is sold.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Sell A Boat?

The best time of year to sell a boat is in the Spring months of March until June when buyers will be seeking a boat for the warmer summer months.

Boat buying demand is typically at its highest during these Spring months.

When Is The Worst Time Of Year To Sell A Boat?

The worst time of year to sell a boat is in the winter months of December to the end of February when the weather is much colder and people will not be using their boats that often.

What Is The Best Payment Method When Selling A Boat?

The best payment methods when selling a boat are receiving cash in full for the boat or paying by wire transfer from the buyer's bank account to the seller's bank.

What Is The Worst Payment Method When Selling A Boat?

The worst payment method when selling a boat is paying in installments as this can be very risky and you may never receive the full amount for your boat.