Here are some observations, gathered from watching countless, buyers, sellers and brokers work through the sales process on a variety of types of boats. Whilst no two boats or deals are the same, here are a few consistent items I’ve noticed along the way from my perspective as a Marine Surveyor;
1/ Deal with professionals
To sell your boat I would strongly recommend dealing with a reputable broker and brokerage. Anecdotally I see far more deals fall over at some stage, or never get to the survey or sea trial process with private sales than I do through reputable brokerages. In my observation the skills of a good broker in keeping everything on track during the sales process will give you a better outcome, not to mention the marketing reach and database they have access to. Consider also the risk and legal aspect associated with a private sale including handling of deposits, trust accounts, contracts of sale, insurance to name a few, I have seen enough private sales and many well north of 1M get "complicated" to consider this worthy of mention.
2/ Have maintenance records
Compile and copy or scan or make the maintenance records for the vessel, main engines and generator available upfront. My observation is that, without this, people will tend to make assumptions about what costs they may be facing in the short term and will often factor any "unknowns" into their offer.
3/ Ensure the vessel is in good order
Usually in the sale process there is a Sea trial and survey as a condition of sale. Normal wear and tear, and some maintenance items are expected and accepted by most buyers these tend not to be deal breakers nor return people to the negotiation table. What tends to have people revise offers or even walk away from deals is when a lot of equipment is not operational or doesn’t function normally. If there are items needing attention /or not operable, my observation is that when everyone is clear from the outset about this, then these items are less often "deal breakers", whilst “surprises" tend to have a more detrimental effect on the deal.
4/ Minimise the random items on board
Some, but not all of the various items that accumulate on board will be relevant to the boat and therefore support the asking price, Things like Mooring lines and fenders Specific / fitted / tailored bedding - Safety gear, (in service), Spares, Cutlery, Tender, spare anchor, spares for main engines and generator such as impellers, filter cartridges could all be viewed as of value. Other less specific or lower value items like snorkelling gear, rusty tins of WD40, old fishing gear, old flares etc etc generally speaking are a distraction and make the boat appear cluttered.
5/ Remove anything not included in the sale
Do this before listed, photographed or displayed, if this can’t be avoided then seller, broker and buyer need to be totally clear on what is, and isn’t from the outset. Easier said than done if you are talking about multiple items. I have seen buyers become upset on principle over folding chairs that were on board during original viewing but then removed prior to the second inspection.
6/ Presentation is key
A boat which has been kept well and or recently professionally polished and waxed, and detailed, will tend to get better and more offers than something that hasn't. If this isn’t possible then the next best scenario is to have the boat clean, washed and presented as neatly as possible. Similarly, where the boat is kept and the convenience of access to it, will have an influence simply because if access to the boat is difficult then this will limit inspections and offers from buyers.