Deciding to Sell a Used Boat With or Without a Dealer

Review of the advantages and disadvantages of selling a used boat on your own or with a boat broker or dealer

Will your used boat sell faster with or without a dealer?

It is undeniable that today’s boat market is tougher than ever for sellers. Some may argue that it is always a buyer’s market when it comes to selling a used boat. Boaters are often forced to drop prices and even take a loss when selling a boat.

With used boat prices dropping it is tempting to decide to sell a used boat yourself, and save the expense of a boat dealer’s typical 10% commission. But a boat sitting on the market too long can cost a boat owner even more money in boat payments, maintenance, slip rentals and winter storage.

Be sure to carefully review the advantages and disadvantages of choosing between using a boat dealer or selling a used boat for sale by owner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Selling a Used Boat with a Dealer

Much like the real estate market, using a broker to sell on your behalf takes a lot of the burden off of the seller. A boat dealer or broker will list your boat, market it for you and try to sell it faster than you may be able to do on your own. But there are some pros and cons of selling a used boat with a dealer.

Advantages of using a boat dealer to sell a boat:

  • Boat dealers list boat for sale on major boat listing sites
  • Boat dealers help to market the boat with photography and boat specs that sell
  • Boat dealers can showcase boats with other broker listings and partnerships
  • Boat dealers can help recommend competitive pricing
  • Boats dealers handle customer inquiries, showings and sea trials
  • Boat dealers can feature boats for sale at sales events and/or high traffic marinas
  • Boat dealers can help buyers with boat financing or loans

Disadvantages of using a boat dealer to sell a boat:

  • Boat dealers and brokers typically charge a 10% commission rate on the sale
  • Boats dealers require a listing contract
  • Boat dealers may charge for storage and/or slip rentals during for sale period
  • Boat showings may not be convenient for sellers currently using a boat for sale

Pros and Cons of Selling a Used Boat for Sale by Owner

The For Sale by Owner option for used boats is a good alternative for sellers that want to control the boat selling process and save money. Of course there are also advantages and disadvantages of the “for sale by owner” option too.

Pros of selling a used boat for sale by owner:

  • Boat sellers can save tens of thousands of dollars in dealer commissions
  • Boat sellers can price a boat more aggressively due to no dealer costs
  • Boat sellers can maintain more “control” over the boat selling process
  • Boat sellers have the flexibility to schedule convenient boat showings

Cons of selling a used boat for sale by owner:

  • Boat sellers must incur costs to list the boat for sale with online or offline ads
  • Boats for sale by owner are limited to their own boat listing / ad visibility and must market their boat independently
  • Boat sellers have to screen inquiries with potential buyers
  • Boat sellers have to negotiate sale price and accommodate any survey issues independently

Sellers listing a boat for sale by owner are also more vulnerable to boat buying scams that are common when boats are listed online without a broker. For sale by owner listings are common targets for overpayment check scams for boats.

Finally, your decision on whether or not to use a boat broker when selling a boat may depend on how fast you need to sell your boat. Some boats may have a better chance of selling faster with maximum exposure through a dealer that has a network of contacts and a large inventory of boats for sale to attract buyers. If you have already upgraded to another boat, the dealer commission may be worth the expense rather than dealing with the two boat owner blues for an extended period of time.

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.
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