How to Sell a Boat Online

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My most recent article discussed some techniques for searching the classified ads to find your next purchase and promised a follow-up on how to write a classified advertisement that will attract attention and guarantee a quick sale.
I mentioned that one of my hobbies is buying and selling and no doubt it is a passion shared by many. A quick look at the cable channels on TV will confirm that, with shows focussing now on storage auctions, antique “picking,” and trading up. I have “flipped” many items for profit with little more than a wash, polish, and a well-written ad.
Here are some tips on crafting a winning ad:

  • Take excellent pictures. An advertisement without images will get far less attention. Tiny pixelated images are no better. If it is dull and rainy, wait until the next sunny day or use some images of the item from your archives. A boat shown at a sunny mooring will be a lot more eye catching to a potential buyer than a boat shown under a tarp on its trailer. Take photos from each corner, the engine compartment, interior, gauges, etc. If there are any problem areas, take detailed pictures of them too.
  • Research the item you are selling so you can provide as much background information as possible. You might find out something you didn’t know that could be a key selling point.
  • Do some market research to come up with a fair price. I think this is a key point to success, since most people shop with a price range in mind. Starting with a fair price will make your ad visible to the highest number of potential buyers, especially because most online classified sites allow buyers to limit their search by price range. Overpricing your item will mean your item is not visible to someone using this feature.
  • Use as many keywords as possible in your title. When I list a Volkswagen Beetle for sale I try to think of every name someone may search for and use it in my title, for example, instead of “Volkswagen Beetle” I will write “Volkswagen VW Beetle Bug Type 1.” This will make your ad easier to find.

My favourite type of ad is what I call “the good and the bad.” Here’s a fictional example using the points from above, with the pictures omitted:

1996 Sea-Ray Sea-Rayder Jet Boat Similar to Sea-Doo
I am selling a very well maintained 1996 Sea-Rayder that I have owned for five years. I am the third owner. These boats were made by Sea-Ray from 1993 – 1999 and exclusively used the Mercury Sport-Jet engine in 90hp and 120hp versions. They featured a two-piece moulded fibreglass hull and like anything made by Sea-Ray the fit and finish was excellent. Mine is an excellent example with the 90hp engine. It has enough power to pull an adult on a tube, or a child on skis, but it would struggle pulling an adult up on skis or a wakeboard. It only draws about 6″ so it is ideal for shallow areas. I have also had it in some large waves on Lake Nipissing with great results. It is a very safe and reliable boat. Here are some details:

THE GOOD
-very solid hull with no leaks
-engine was recently serviced and has excellent compression (130-135-133), receipt available
-new bilge pump and battery last year
-comes complete with all necessary safety equipment
-trailer is also included, bearings were recently greased and all lights work

THE BAD
-there is a little dock rash on the right-hand side (see image)
-there was one gel-coat repair done on the starboard side below the gunwale, it is about 3” x 0.5” and is barely noticeable (see image)
-there are no tears in the seats but they are faded and will likely need to be redone soon
I am only selling due to changing interests. I am looking to move into an aluminum fish and ski style boat. I am asking $3750 for the boat and trailer. They will be sold with a bill of sale and ownership transfer. Please contact me by email or at 555-555-5555 to discuss.

By elaborating in a clear and concise way you paint an honest and thorough picture to your potential buyers. As a side-note, I actually bought the boat in the fictional ad from an online ad that read simply “1996 Sea-Rayder, runs good, call 555-555-5555.” I used the boat for three years and ultimately made a profit when I sold it.
Good luck with your endeavours!

-Article by Bradley Schmidt

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