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When is the best time to sell your boat?

If you've decided to sell your boat but don't know when it would be best, you're likely at that data-gathering stage of trawling through pages of online content. Don't stress; we've got everything prepared here to help you plan your sale.
You may have heard or simply predicted that it's best to sell your boat before the sailing season begins. This, the theory goes, is because there are more serious buyers out there wanting to get on the waters by summer. There are also, in turn, more actual boat users out there sailing and limiting the market supply. While there's no arguing with the logic, what do the statistics reveal? Here, we'll unpack what the best months and seasons are to sell your boat. We'll look at the things to consider when placing your boat on the market and the conditions you can meet to ensure a speedy sale.

What season is the best time to sell a boat?

Simply put, spring is the easiest season to sell in. There are more buyers as the summer sailing season comes in, particularly around bank holidays. As such, the spring bank holiday (last Monday of May) is a great time to list with more enquiries and responses logged. You'll get a much larger pool of potential buyers when the sailing season kicks in, too.
In particular, the months from February to June see the most consistent yearly sales. So in terms of actual numbers, spring wins - it has the perfect ratio of buyers to sellers. It's a case of supply and demand. As more people bring their boats out of winter storage for the summer, more buyers are looking to take advantage of the seasonal weather. Fewer boats on the market and a bigger demand from consumers means that boats sell quicker.
boat moored against a wall fall of hanging flowers
Spring is the easiest season to sell in. Photo: Lukasz Jablonski
However, this doesn't mean that spring is necessarily the only season for you to sell in. If you're waiting for spring to come around in the new year, for instance, you'll have to winter your boat. This often means a new 12-month mooring contract with maintenance and cleaning. Instead of waiting for spring, why not sell your boat as the season ends through early autumn?
If you've been looking after your vessel well throughout the season, you won't have to pay as much for clean-up or storage. Early autumn is also a favourite season among some buyers because it gives them time to make changes. Granted, this niche group doesn't power the majority of sales, but it's worth considering if you're not ready for spring.

Does the day of the week make a difference?

Interestingly, yes! However, even though some days see the most sales traffic, this isn't clear-cut enough for you to only list on those days. In general, buyers tend to make the jump on Sundays and Mondays. The psychology is pretty clear - most people decide on their boats on the weekend and finalise decisions for the new week. While this shouldn't affect your listing times, you can use exposure tools on sales platforms to increase clicks.
What's more, buyers tend to make their sales and increase viewings from 8pm online. While this shouldn't influence your sales procedure, get ready for enquiries in the evening. If you can, track your listings to see what's working. There are plenty of algorithm platforms available to track and control your sales.
boats in frozen water covered in snow
Avoid selling your boat in winter as there aren't as many interested buyers. Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

What are the worst seasons to sell in?

Just as spring sees the most sales, other periods like the end of summer see the lowest. Buyers are less stimulated to purchase a boat in July or August if they won't be using it for six months. Winter, too, is not optimal for selling as there aren't as many interested buyers. What's more, summertime clearances among boat manufacturers make the used market less attractive. Try to avoid these seasons when selling your boat if possible.
You should also avoid big festive periods like Christmas and New Year's Eve. While you may expect buyers to have more disposable cash and to be making fresh decisions for the new year, people will be enjoying their family's company. As such, this is usually the lowest period for sales. Don't list through Christmas, and certainly don't expect daily responses.
There are other factors too. The recent global pandemic and other local issues with petrol and trade may influence the marketplace. Stay on top of recent trends so that you're not left in the dark when it comes to selling your boat.

Why are you selling your boat?

If you're selling your boat because you want to invest in a new one, you'll have to relax your seasonal rules. Selling your boat as quickly as possible will give you more purchasing power. Boats can depreciate quickly over time by as much as 20% per year, so the aim is to sell them quickly. In this case, you don't have the luxury of waiting for the best selling season and will have to craft an attractive sales bio.
Another crucial statistic is that most boats take over 300 days to sell. Listing early is crucial to getting a head start on the market. Of course, this figure is inflated by unfavourable boat listings, poor-quality boats and other rough options too. As such, you'll want to produce an attractive advert for the best sales success.
bavaria sailing yacht cruising in the sea
Make sure that you advertise with high-quality, well-lit photographs. Photo: Bavaria

Tips for selling your boat quickly

Once you've decided you're going to put your boat on the market, there are a few steps to make sales more likely. Boat owners can make this whole process smoother and simpler for the buyer to encourage sales and avoid any unnecessary mishaps. Here are some essentials that any boat lister should follow:
  • List your boat widely: If you want to sell your boat or yacht quickly, get her out there. List in regional and local boating publications and online sales forums. Don't just stick to one platform; spread things out. What's more, if your boat is particularly unique, you might want to consider going wider for more international or continental sale potential.
  • Advertise with high-quality, well-lit photographs: While this may sound obvious, it's astounding how many low-quality and haphazard smartphone snaps are on the marketplace. Give your buyer a detailed sense of your boat with good photography. That doesn't mean you have to invest in some grade-a kit; simply ensure that natural light is flooding in and avoid taking photographs on grey days.  For more tips on selling your boat online, check out our essential guide
  • Ensure your boat is shipshape: First impressions mean everything to viewers. Once you've enticed them with your sales pitch, you'll want to follow through on the visit. Waxing, cleaning and detailing everything about the boat do wonders for sales.
  • Have your boat surveyed: Most discerning buyers will want to have a boat surveyed to ensure it's up to standard. Take the initiative and have your boat surveyed for sale. This gives buyers more confidence and reduces the risk of pull-outs.
  • Choose the right price: This can be tricky. Of course, you want to get the most money for your boat. While brokers are a great source of knowledge on model prices and realistic sales, do some online research too. Note how long certain boats have been on the market. While some sellers list boats at haggling prices, this can be incredibly off-putting. Don't play games and list prices clearly.
  • Decide on your route - private or broker: There are pros and cons to both positions. Brokers tend to sell vessels quicker but with a commission or fee. Private sales can take much longer with greater returns. Your choice will depend on the quality and price of your boat. Brokers only really deal with higher-cost sales.


Measure your expectations for a stress-free sale

Selling a boat takes patience and expertise. From your boat's overall layout and condition to its location and price, selling your boat comes down to more than just the selling season. Sure, spring is the best time to list your boat, but buyers are looking for quality and value above all else. Follow the aforementioned steps, list your boat in significant detail, and get it on the market in time for spring for the most clicks. Remember what it felt like when you first bought your boat, how long you considered it and what you looked for. Try to match those requirements and expectations for the best success.
Knowing what to expect is half the battle of selling your boat. At the end of the day, your listing success is only as good as what you have on offer. For more boating and yachting expertise, hop aboard for leading industry tips!
For more information check out our article: Is There A Best Time To Buy A Boat?
Main image: Beneteau
Benjamin Smith
Guest contributor
Published on 2021-10-20