The 10 Most Likely Reasons Your Used Boat Isn’t Selling

Reasons your Boat Isn't Selling

Most people selling a boat want to sell it as quickly as possible, but this isn't always the outcome. If your boat is stuck on the market for months without any significant activity, it's a sign that something is holding people back from making an offer.

Why Isn’t Your Used Boat Selling?

These are the most likely factors preventing your used boat from selling as quickly as you'd like:

  1. Glaring issues. First, there might be glaring issues with the boat that most potential buyers spot right away. Some people are interested in salvaging or restoring older vessels, but most people shopping for a boat want something that's going to work reliably for the next several years, at minimum. If it's very clear that the boat is extensively damaged, or if people can tell, at a glance, that it may not run effectively, you're going to turn away some of your most viable buyers immediately. You may or may not be able to correct these issues cost effectively.
  2. Excessive hours. Engines and other complex components have a finite lifespan. The more hours they’re in use, the closer they get to reaching the end of their natural, useful life. Accordingly, most people are interested in buying newer, less used vessels. If your engine has thousands of hours on it and your equipment is more than a decade old, savvy prospective buyers will understand that they're going to be on the hook to replace these things in the near future.
  3. An antiquated model. It's also possible that the boat you're trying to sell is such an antiquated model that the manufacturer no longer supports it. This isn't necessarily a dealbreaker, but it does make it much more challenging to find replacement parts and get adequate service. Many buyers prefer models that are still supported by the original manufacturers, or at least models that are relatively easy to repair and maintain.
  4. A high price. It could also be the case that your boat is simply priced too high. Price is arguably the most important variable when considering the attractiveness of a given boat listing; if the price is low enough, your listing could overcome literally every other issue. Conversely, if the price is high enough, it could turn people away even if the vessel is in perfect condition. Though it's not pleasant to reduce the price and sacrifice your profitability, sometimes it's the only strategically viable move.
  5. Bad pictures. Bad pictures can make a good boat look awful. If your listing only contains a single, blurry image, or if you fail to show off your vessel in a flattering light, you're naturally going to sacrifice some of your market appeal. Ideally, your listing should have a wide variety of photos that show off the best qualities of your vessel in the best possible light. Check out this article for advice on how to photograph your boat for sale.
  6. An unappealing description. Good marketing strategies can support almost any boat sale. Conversely, bad marketing strategies can compromise almost any boat sale. Your description of your vessel plays an important role in shaping people's perspectives; a more colourful, more detail-rich description can uplift perceptions of what you're selling.
  7. Better deals. If you have a lot of competition, it's going to be much harder to sell your boat. If your listing is one of thousands, and there are similar vessels to yours that are newer or less expensive, you're going to lose any competitive advantage you might have otherwise had. It's important to know what you're up against, so you can price and sell your boat appropriately.
  8. Channel/platform and visibility issues. Sometimes, boat sellers have issues related to specific channels or platforms they've used. You might have a great boat at a great price, but if you're marketing to the wrong people, or if you simply don't have a big enough reach, it's not going to matter. You can often increase your visibility and reach by adding a boat sales marketplace like to your portfolio.
  9. A remote location/accessibility issues. You may find it hard to sell your boat if it's currently in a remote location or is otherwise hard to access. Transportation services are available, but they can make the transaction much more expensive, turning people off in yet another way.
  10. A market slowdown. Like with real estate, boat markets tend to oscillate between buyers’ markets and sellers’ markets. If you time your sale incorrectly, or if you get a bit unlucky with the market dynamics, it can make any boat sale more challenging.

Quick Tips for Better Results

Making a proper diagnosis would necessitate thoroughly evaluating your current listing and strategy. The appropriate solutions are going to depend on what, specifically, is going wrong. But if you're looking for some quick tips to try to boost the appeal of your listing, these are great places to start:

  • Try a new channel. Consider adopting a new channel or platform so you can maximise your reach and appeal to some new demographics. It might be exactly the visibility boost you need to start seeing results.
  • Drop the price. If your primary goal is selling the boat as quickly as possible, simply drop the price. Even a relatively small decrease of 5 to 10 percent could be enough to motivate more people to review your listing.
  • Hire a photographer (or learn the basics). If you feel your photography might be lacking, consider hiring a professional photographer. IT comes with a cost, but it could help you fetch a higher sale price and sell the boat faster. Alternatively, you can learn the basics of good photography so you can take better photos yourself.
  • Experiment with new description angles. Finally, consider experimenting with different descriptions that show your boat in different lights. If you can track your results, you’ll quickly learn which description features are most and least effective.

Are you interested in selling a boat? Check out our Broker Directory to find a professional boat/yacht broker. Or try our platform to sell your boat privately.

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