Selling Your Boat: FSBO vs Yacht Broker

Selling a catamaran

Thinking about selling your boat? Wondering if it is prudent for you to save paying a commission to a yacht broker and go the “for sale by owner” route?

If you have experience with boats and really know the market where your boat is located, you might feel confident to sell your own boat and cash in on the savings of not paying a broker. Going the “for sale by owner” or FSBO way can be a great option for some boat sellers, but it is not for everyone.

Here is our take (as yacht brokers) on the pros and cons of “for sale by owner” vs. using a boat seller’s broker.

What is FSBO?

Basically, you do all the things a yacht broker would do, spending your time instead of money on commission to the broker. Since you know more about your boat than anyone else, you might consider that it is not that difficult to sell your own boat. But there are factors that may make FSBO a poor move on your part. So, we offer the information below to help you decide if you should commit yourself to the time-consuming and legally challenging activity of selling your boat yourself.

FSBO: Pros & Cons of Selling Your Boat

Pro: Control

You have full control over each step of the boat selling process. You schedule boat showings, arrange inspections, and review contracts. Having all that power may be perfect for your experience and situation, but if you have little experience with boat inspection reports or a yacht sales contract, you may find yourself in over your head, feeling a bit overboard.

Con: Objectivity

Just like we all tend to think our kids are the cutest or smartest ever, your bias toward your boat that you may be emotionally attached to can lead to difficulty in letting go of the boat and also in garnering objectivity.
Lacking objectivity makes a sale challenging. The most obvious thing is that boat value is based on numbers, not feelings. But you may not have access to all the numbers you need to overcome the belief that your boat is worth more than it really is. Getting to market value is an art and science and one area that yacht brokers often earn their keep.

Another area in which objectivity can be your friend is helping you see what needs cleaning, repairing, tidying, and purging. You have used your boat, perhaps even liveaboard and may not see the things that boat buyers will see. If you do not address important repairs, as the owner, you will find it doubly hard to answer all the buyers’ questions and respond to their complaints.

Before you FSBO, be sure to base your pricing on concrete market data, get a meticulous friend to tour your boat and be honest with you, and thicken your skin for picky buyers looking for ways to negotiate your asking price downwards.

Con: Negotiation

The best boat deals happen in negotiation. It is rare (impossible?) to have a boat buyer agree to buy a vessel outright at the price and terms you asked. Most boat trading happens over days (and sometimes weeks or months) of negotiation with each side trying to get the best possible deal. Even if you are skilled and comfortable with nitty gritty negotiations, getting what you want and knowing what you want is fair without the market knowledge of a boat broker can be tough.

What Happens When You Hire a Broker?

When you hire a yacht broker, you get professional expertise on your side throughout the process to protect your interests. And you free up your time. Your boat seller’s broker lists your vessel, advises on repairs and other ways to improve the outcome, shows it, handles the negotiation, manages the stream of paperwork, and sits with you at the closing to watch out for your interests. Here are some of the pros and cons that go along with hiring a yacht broker:

Working with A Broker: Pros and Cons

Con: Money

Yacht brokers for sellers work off a commission, meaning they receive a cut of the proceeds from the sale of your boat. Expect to pay about 10% of the sales price in commission. So, if your boat sells for $300,000, at 10% the commission would come out to $30.000 and you walk away with $270,000.

Pro: Also Money

While you may initially think a 10% commission is a bit greedy, if you are still among the working, think of the money you can make with the time you won’t spend showing your boat, researching documents and legalities, and attending to all the boat selling tasks your broker will handle for you. Even if you are retired, consider if the risks and headaches of being your own boat broker are worth it.

Pro: Time + energy

Selling a boat is a lot of work. While family and friends are enjoying a picnic or hanging out at the pool, you will be attending to showings, paperwork, and negotiations. It can be a full-time job to list, sell, negotiate, and close on a boat. Before deciding to sell your own boat, consider whether you can realistically make the time commitment.

Final Word about FSBO vs Yacht Brokers

This article summarizes what boat brokers do for a yacht sales transaction.

Here is some additional reading on the subject of selling your yacht:

Only you can make the best decision for you about selling your own boat or hiring a yacht broker.

Before jumping aboard either situation, do your research. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to decide if taking on the sale yourself is really the right move or if you’d be better off working with a professional.

If you decide FSBO is right for you, then consider listing on Catamaran Guru’s FSBO page where we have thousands of visitors monthly. Note that though we enable sellers to list their boats on our website as part of the sailing community, we are NOT involved at all in the process. This transaction is STRICTLY between the buyer and the seller. 

However, our yacht brokerage team is available to help you sell your boat if you would like to list her with one of our brokers. They can help you price the boat, list it on the top boat listings globally, and attend the process of selling and negotiating from start to end.


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