Selling Your Vessel – Professional Brokerage or For Sale by Owner?

Articles, Buying and Selling


Here are Five Things to Consider Before Selling Your Boat

By: Steve Varrow

The idea of selling your catamaran without the use of a professional and handling the transaction yourself can be a tempting one for sellers. However, there are a few things you should consider before going the for sale by owner route.

The market has become complex with many Multiple Listing Sites, social channels, online marketplaces, and thousands of competing listings. For this reason, it has become almost impossible for a single individual to get the same sort of exposure and marketing that you would when listing with a professional brokerage firm that real buyers have grown to know and trust as reputable.

Even if you use a “sell on your own” service to get your catamaran on a few FSBO websites, these sorts of websites get a fraction of the traffic that most professional yacht sales sites get on a daily basis and the less viewers who look at your catamaran, the less your chances are of selling.

Along with having less traffic, the quality of those looking at your listing will be much lower and will naturally be hunting for a sub-market value deal. We’ve heard many stories from private sellers saying that buyers will instantly demand at minimum 10% off the asking price because private searching for sale by owner sites are keenly aware the the seller is not paying brokerage and therefore should sell the boat for a lower price than what she is likely worth on the open market. And so, in an attempt to save yourself money you will likely be continuously negotiated to sell the boat for less than what she is worth.

When you act as your own broker, be prepared to spend a lot of time trying to get your catamaran sold. There will be times when you spend whole days answering technical questions to parties who simply drop off the face of the earth once they have answers, or then present you with an offer that is well below fair market value on the boat. You may spend entire weekends showing your catamaran to not-so-serious or unqualified buyers who simply want to look at the model boat you have available. You should also be prepared to organize all communications and showings with other brokers and potential buyers and do all the necessary work required to sell your catamaran.

While you may be an expert at what you’d like to receive for your yacht most sellers are certainly not an expert on what she is worth in a given market. Selling a catamaran requires a different kind of expertise that requires concrete data on what boats of a similar size, vintage and/or Make or Model are currently selling for. Data which is not accessible to private buyers or private sellers, which can also result in a disconnect between what a private buyer and seller view as a fair price for their vessel.

Private sellers can also often have time looking at their boat through an unbiased lens and how a buyer may view and value her which can result in many for sale by owner yachts being overpriced and remain on the market for a long period of time.

When you are your own agent, you are legally responsible for everything you do and all decisions that you make. You will run the risk of exposing yourself to agreements that should never have been agreed to and do things that are well outside the bounds of a normal yacht sale. There is a possibility that you may fail to adhere to the current legislation. As well, if you don’t disclose certain facts about your catamaran, you could expose yourself to litigation after closing.

So why not just try FSBO and see what happens? You could always list with a broker if you do not get any sales?

1. Running cost, the longer your catamaran stays on market the greater your berthing costs, maintenance costs, insurance costs, etc. will continually add up.
2. Depreciation cost, the longer your catamaran stays on the market, the greater the depreciation costs will increase.
3. Market Perception cost, the longer your catamaran is on the market, the less desirable it will appear to the marketplace.

I hope this information is of some use to you when considering a strategy to market your catamaran, If you are on the fence right now and want to go into more detail I am very happy to give you a call to discuss.

Steve Varrow
Cel/WhatsApp/Signal/Telegram +1 786 246 0809

About Steve Varrow

Steve Varrow is a Professional Skipper and TMC broker in the Virgin Islands.  He lives aboard his classic gaff rigged yacht “Gwendolyn” sailing between the BVI, USVI and the Spanish Virgin Islands and is ready to help you in all aspects of buying or selling you next Catamaran.