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How do I negotiate the best price for my boat?


Business should be good for both buyers and sellers. The price plays an important role in this. Here we give tips on how to negotiate successfully.

As you make your bed, so you lie. Nowhere is this truism more true than in price negotiations. The presentation has to be right, the boat has to be marketed according to its condition and the price has to be reasonable. If you are correct on all three points, you as a seller have created a good starting position to enforce your asking price. The important thing is, quite simply, good preparation. Other key factors for a successful sale:

  • No rush
  • Demand for the type of your boat
  • Similar boats that are priced a little higher
  • Multiple prospects or offers
  • Solid report
  • Well organized test drive

Conversely, if the boat has been on the market for some time, or if you don’t necessarily keep it super-clean if it is in an expensive marina, the buyer may well have the upper hand in the negotiations.


Negotiations are often a step-by-step process that takes several rounds before the parties agree on a number. This can result in a longer conversation or take several days. Some negotiations take weeks with several offers and counter-bids, but most of the time the dance ends after two or three rounds. If both parties are realistic, it shouldn’t be too difficult to reach an agreement. A common mistake is to quickly reject a low offer. Instead, see it as an invitation from the buyer to counter-bid that has a price that you can live with. One should not forget that boats that have been on sale for a long time, although the price has been reduced and therefore often below what was previously offered and rejected. In a neglected condition, a boat has to be priced very competitively in order not to put the seller in a disadvantaged position. Sometimes the counter offer is just a repetition of the original price request, but usually the seller grants a price reduction of 2 to 10 percent. If the seller’s negotiating position is weak, the discount can be up to 20 percent. If the original offer is not too far from your expectations, you can meet the buyer halfway and thus set a sign of goodwill that accelerates the binding conclusion of the deal.

rust boat
The eye buys: Even if the boat were still in good condition, a pathetic appearance puts off most potential buyers.

Asking price

The required sales price has a major influence on the number of interested parties and the course of the sales negotiations. If you manage to set a price for your boat that is both fair and attractive, you get more inquiries, come out as a professional seller who has done his homework. Another benefit: it strengthens your position in negotiations.

Lower price limit

Before you start the negotiation process, you need to set a lower limit for the sales price. Sometimes it is the price demanded in the ad, but often less, even significantly less. Factors that affect this number are the need to sell quickly and the cost of continuing to own the boat. If you still use the boat regularly, you have a return on the amount you spend on mooring, maintenance, etc. But when you are no longer using the boat, the cost of maintaining it in tip-top condition can quickly add up to a noticeable percentage of the boat’s total value, and especially if it is a small vessel. You should also be a bit of a psychologist when it comes to price talks. Everyone wants to feel like they got a good deal. Let the buyer have the pleasure of trading you a little down that will help close the deal. Of course, the boat brand also plays a role. Newer boats from well-known shipyards will be easier to sell at a good price than old ones or those from unknown manufacturers.

Other factors

In addition to the price, there are other details that can be included in the negotiations, such as when the boat will be sold and when the boat will be transported to its new location. For example, you can negotiate a higher selling price and in return agree to assist with the transfer (provided you are clear about the buyer’s expectations) or help with the launching for the next season. Perhaps you can also offer the buyer to use your berth for a while, thereby helping him to cover his initial costs. But ask the owner of the berth or the Marian first.

Multiple offers

If you have several offers, but there is a buyer who is particularly interested, it is advisable to negotiate with them first. When speaking to multiple prospects at the same time, it is a good idea to make it clear to everyone that there are multiple offers, otherwise you could end up losing more than just one buyer.

Expert opinion and test drive

Most of the offers depend on the course of the appraisal and the test drive, which will vary depending on whether you are selling a motorboat or a sailing yacht. The effective price is therefore influenced by whether the appraiser detects previously unknown material defects. It is not always clear what constitutes these defects, but discounts are usually necessary in order to continue the negotiation. In this case, there are generally three solutions: a discount that roughly reflects the cost of repairing the damage, doing the work yourself before closing the deal, or sharing the costs with the buyer. The latter option makes sense above all if the repair of the damage also leads to an improvement in value, e.g. by replacing standing equipment, upgrading the gas lines or installing a new engine.

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