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Author Topic:   Boat Sale Etiquette
Frank O posted 03-11-2015 09:23 AM ET (US)   Profile for Frank O   Send Email to Frank O  
I've put my boat up for sale, and three or four potential buyers are interested in looking at it toward the end of this week. Is it usually preferable to try to schedule appointments sequentially, or is it okay just to say I'll be there between X and Y o'clock and let people come whenever they get there? If two different potential buyers want to go on a sea trial at the same time, is that considered poor form?

I think they all know that others are interested in the boat, but I want to do right by everyone.

Jeff posted 03-11-2015 09:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jeff  Send Email to Jeff     
I have found that only 10-25% actually show up when selling a boat, car or any other large item. Just set a time when you are going to be there and let them show up when they can...

I have set actual appointment times and cleared my schedule for many prospective buyers only to have them never show up. So, I just don't do that any more.

Also, only sea-trail the boat if you have a deposit. Even if it's a $50-100 deposit, that still means they have to commit to something. If the boat performs and they still pass, you don't refund. If the boat has problems and does not perform, they can get their money back.

The only times you might not take a deposit prior to a sea-trail is if the prospective buyer has traveled a long way, or they have hired someone to come and inspect the boat. Those cases show that the buyer is taking the sale seriously.

kwik_wurk posted 03-11-2015 10:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
Open house vs apt is up to you, just let all buyers know what format you are going with in advance as their expectations need to be set.

Personally I prefer [appointments], and set it to 1 hr (or longer if size warrants). It is easier to do one-on-one conversations, and build the relationship for a quicker sell. And if you get a jerk that brings 3 kids, 2 friends, and ex-wife (or ex-husband); it will be easier to deal with if they have an apt with set boundaries. -- When I buy I ask for an apt. and ask the engine be 'cold' when I show up, but be ready to be run (at the dock or on muffs) all components (electrical and mechanical).

As for sea trail, no that is not the norm without a intent to purchase (offer) with agreed price and deposit. (Even if your boat sits on the dock in front of your house.) -- If you were selling with an broker/agent, they almost never take the boat out without a signed offer.

This does not mean you can't start the engines on the trailer (or in the water), just leaving the dock is a separate ball game.

17 bodega posted 03-11-2015 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
I got a small chuckle when reading the title of this thread. My first thought is that there is no such thing as selling etiquette these days, with some minor exceptions.

I always say "First come first served" in my ad so that there is no misunderstanding about wanting to sell to the first bona fide buyer. Many folks also use the "phone number or I won't bother with you" to weed out scammers, and dealers that will only make a low-ball offer in email. Face to face is a different situation, and usually buyers behave better face to face, or you know they are much more honest and real.

It's a tough market these days for sellers of anything but real estate in my area, which is a total sellers market. Boston Whalers are fairly plentiful and prices are reasonable, with an occasional super bargain.

The "open house" strategy is often good, and designed to create a "bidding war" among attendees. I won an event like this and bought a 1970 Chevy pickup with a tricked out 350 for $1500. Three guys were there when I got there and they were haggling with the guy. His phone was blowing up with calls. I took out the cash and waved it after one guy passed, and I got a truck. I was offered $3,500 for it the next day, and I kept it. It's all about seizing the moment.--Steve

Whaler27 posted 03-11-2015 11:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler27  Send Email to Whaler27     
First come, first serve, cash in hand.

On Monday afternoon I made an appointment to meet the seller of a 17-footer. He claimed that was his only open time. I said, "I'm ready cash in hand." We set the meeting for Tuesday morning, his first open timeframe. I rearranged my day, but I got a call the next morning. Sorry bro! I snooze, I lost.

porthole2 posted 03-12-2015 10:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for porthole2  Send Email to porthole2     
I had an offer in on a boat that was accepted, and I was just waiting for water at the marina (was iced in).

Made arrangements to order a new LoadRite trailer for the boat and then the owner "changed his mind"

EJO posted 03-13-2015 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for EJO  Send Email to EJO     
Total Cash (Certified Bank Check) makes a deal the quickest. A deposit only takes the sale of the market and can fall thru, but as said a letter of intend (sold letter with stipulations) with sea trial with an honest buyer should work but not without such an agreement.
Open house is the best. I once did that with some marine supplies and a small dingy sailboat and several sail boards. I had somebody drive 2-1/2-hours being very interested, but told them first cash offer gets them. They came over and somebody was there already that was very interested. As he had traveled a long way he gave me cash right away to make sure the other guy wouldn't buy the equipment [capital letter B then hypen then figure four] he had a chance to look it over. He ended up being happy after checking everything over but also knew cash speaks wonders and takes the sale of the market, that is, etiquette is CASH. Good luck with your "open house" but the higher the sales price the more an appointment is warranted.
Whaler_bob posted 03-13-2015 11:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
I've been on the buying end of an open-house-style boat sale. It can produce a very uncomfortable and confrontational scene between the interested parties if the common test ride (with all potential buyers onboard) turns out okay. It's not pleasant to get into a bidding war standing on a boat dock with three other other guys who all want to buy the boat. As a seller if you want to get into that type of situation just know that you're pitting live buyers against each other and it can get ugly.
jimh posted 03-14-2015 06:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have said this before, but permit me to repeat myself: when a good used Boston Whaler boat is available for sale at a reasonable price, the first really interested person to see it will usually buy it. Good, used Boston Whaler boats in fine condition and priced fairly will sell without much trouble. If you really want a chance to buy such a boat, get to the seller first and bring cash or very reliable checks.
bkjones posted 03-14-2015 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for bkjones  Send Email to bkjones     
Can anyone give any advice on how a long distance sale should go when selling a boat to someone in another state where the boat will be shipped?
kwik_wurk posted 03-14-2015 06:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
Anyone that walks around with a big wad of hard cash for buying anything in a [unclear] is potentially putting themselves in a bad situation. I don't care if you carry a .38. Criminals with intent are not the brightest citizens. Avoiding bad situations is the key. Now granted, most enterprising criminals are not selling Boston Whalers, and Boston Whaler boats sell well. And there is a different between $500 and $5,000. But then again, for a meth addict, $5 goes a long ways.

The last time I bought a boat via [unclear] it was about $20,000. I walked in with two certified checks. One was for $1,000, a deposit, and an signed offer letter (seller signs as well), the second was for the remaining balance of what I wanted to pay. Within 48-hours of deposit and offer letter, the final inspection and transaction took place at a bank of mutual convenience. The paper work was signed in a professional place, and the seller had funds deposited and transferred immediately. A bank of sellers choosing usually works out, because the seller wants the money in an account equally fast as you want the boat.

When buying anything of substantial value like a boat, car, or house, getting the clear title as soon as possible is the the main objective. So if you're buying something, you as the buyer, need to do all that it takes to get the bill of sale and title in your possession such that you are not bid against or seller changing minds. Which brings up another point, I always ask if "title in hand", which quickly tells me if the seller is serious, and if he or she is trying to cover a loan, which usually tells me little bargaining room.

In inter-state selling and buying, the safest method would be to use a broker, and have the buyer pay the additional fees. You should not be burdened with the costs; and it really gives the buyer more protections. Does it make sense for a $2000 13-footer? Not really; tell the buyer, if wants to get this done, he needs to come up with a solution.

martyn1075 posted 03-14-2015 07:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
bkjones--the [two] thing[s] I can suggest on a delivery out-of-town sale is to make sure you get your money first, and it clears. This can actually take quite a long time, and, if the buyer tries to make the exchange while [the money transfer] is in progress, it can be trouble, like bye-bye boat. It sounds basic, and, to a degree it, is, but cheques--certified or not--take time. Bank drafts same thing. The other matter is many banks in the USA will not allow a buyer who is taking a loan to make the transaction without a [power of attorney document] from the purchaser. The bank drafts it up, and you have to sign this, or the buyer does not get his loan. This is what I found out on my long distance deal when I sold my last boat a year back. Great guy, gentleman, and good job, etc., but the banks needed [a power of attorny document] signed. I really didn't think, as a seller, I should have to sign a power-of-attorney . The trick: it is for the bank, not the buyer, as he is taking a loan; they want a fall back on their client just in case something goes wrong. The way around this is just meet the fellow at the bank, and have the cheque presented to you by the seller and bank manager. No paper work required other then the normal stuff.

Also make sure if a border is involved to write a letter, which the buyer will sign, to [have the buyer] take all responsibility with taxes, duty, delivery, and insurance. [These are] not a seller's concern.

[Short list of elements of the transaction follows:]

--legitmate seller's agreement,


--another hand written agreement is good idea,

--money first,

--have it clear, then

--boat is picked up.

--contract states pick up date when money clears.

jimh posted 03-15-2015 09:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is a story to go with every boat purchase. To be on guard for fraud is always prudent.
alchse posted 04-26-2015 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for alchse  Send Email to alchse     
Is selling a boat while it is still winterized the norm or should a buyer expect the seller to have it up and running?
jimh posted 04-26-2015 10:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If the climate permits on-water testing, a boat that cannot be tested on the water is not as attractive to a buyer as one that can be tested on the water.
contender posted 04-26-2015 09:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
[When] selling a boat cash talks. [First] come [first] serve[d]. You are selling your boat. Be ready to sell it at reasonable hours. Any deposit is non-refundable--unless the engine does not start or something breaks while showing the boat. You want a sea ride[?] [The cost is] $250 non-refundable, [but] can be taken off the price of the sale. I'm here to sell my boat not give joy rides. You want a marine inspection[?] You pay, but [the cost of the marine inspection is] not coming off the price. If the person brings cash, have a money pen to check the bills. If [the payment is in the form of] a check, [the] funds have to clear before the boat leaves the yard. I even copy down the license number on the tow vehicle. This is business transaction, nothing else, you do not want to get [defrauded], [and] neither does the other person. Protect yourself. There are just [too] many scams out there. Warranty is five-feet or five-seconds whatever comes [first].
jimh posted 04-26-2015 10:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Follow the above advice and you would never sell a boat to me or most anyone I know. Seriously, most of the time the seller must accommodate the buyer. A used Boston Whaler boat is not something that is so scarce that buyers have to deal with sellers who think they are doing the buyer a favor to take their money, and vice versa. The five transactions involving the transfer of ownership of a Boston Whaler boat that I have been involved in have been deals between gentlemen, conducted on a handshake and on mutually agreed upon terms and conditions.
jcdawg83 posted 04-27-2015 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jcdawg83    
I agree Jim, when I'm buying a boat I consider myself to be the "customer". While I don't always think I'm right, I do expect to be treated with some appreciation since I'm the one bringing the money to the deal. When I'm selling, I certainly don't feel like I'm doing the buyer a favor by letting him give me his money.
porthole2 posted 04-29-2015 12:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for porthole2  Send Email to porthole2     
Having been recently involved in selling and buying a couple of boats, I can't believe how many people selling advertise a boat that is not ready to sell. Buried in a yard somewhere, snowed in (not now), shrink wrapped and not uncovering it, absolutely filthy and loaded with leaves, branches etc. Advertised as "no brokers need apply" and then the seller gives it a broker anyway after an agreement.

Dealers are no better, sometimes advertising boats they don't even have or are sold already.

We had a far easier time buying our 34' and 42' foot boats then any small boats.

And then of course you have the ads that specify "needs nothing" "ready to fish" etc, you get there and the trailer is barely road worthy.

Craigslist ads seem to be the worse. I would guess for every 10 ads I responded too, only half actually got back to me.

Binkster posted 04-29-2015 12:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
I think Boat Trader online is the way to go. You can put in a lot of pics, and it goes all over the country. People will travel to buy a special Whaler. I wouldn't advertise any Whaler I have for sale locally. Folks around here seem to run only old tin boats or beat up Bayliners or old pontoons. Now if I lived on the lower east coast of Fl. it would be a different story. Not so north of Tampa.


Spuds posted 04-29-2015 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Spuds    
Boat Sale Etiquette from a buyers perspective:

Boat Sale Etiquette Rule #1

Please list the price in your ad. I don't know how many ads forget the price, and instead say call for more info.

Boat Sale Etiquette Rule #2

List the correct model. Too often I'll see a mid 80's Outrage 25 listed as a 250. One local guy here ran an ad for a 17 Nauset. In reality, it was a 17 Super Sport.

Boat Sale Etiquette Rule #3

Have plenty of pictures. I can usually make a decision if I am interested in your boat if you have pictures that show all the pertinent parts of your boat. This can save you time, and me time, in pursuing a boat further. And only to find out later, that it's not what I'm looking for.

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