You’ve no doubt heard it said that the two happiest days of boat ownership are: the day you buy your boat and then the day you sell your boat.

And if you’ve been one of those unfortunate boat owners who have been trying to sell your boat, having it on the market for months or years without a single offer, then this will undoubtedly become true when you finally sell your boat!

Boats, boats, boats … seemingly everywhere. How to sell your boat when there are so many boats on the market?

In Asia, it can be extremely difficult to sell your boat.

The reasons are varied, but we have identified some reasons why.

We have been working with boats in Asia for 15 years and this is on top of our involvement with boats for all of our lives, and since William (Co-founder of BASCO) first started as an apprentice marine mechanic in small-town New Zealand when he was just 15 years old, fresh out of school.


William Schick Bills Marine Ltd

Photo of William Schick in his First Company in New Zealand

So, you could say, we have amassed a lot of experience over time.

But the number of boats sitting on the market and not selling in Asia has always bothered us.

So, after leaving the boat dealership ‘game’ more than 3 years ago, we started BASCO as an independent boat consultancy, and established online boat selling services bringing an effective solution to clients to help them answer the question of ‘how to sell your boat faster in Asia’.

After running monthly online marine auctions in Asia for almost two years, we have amassed a lot of experience in what it takes to sell boats faster in Asia, including exporting Asia-based boats to other parts of the world, such as shipping or sailing from Asia to Australia.

We have had a steady stream of clients approach us for assistance with how to sell their boats at the highest price in the fastest time.

Here are 3 tips we recommend:

1/ Market your boat initially, without a price especially if your boat is new to the market.

Take advantage of the initial 8-10 weeks when your boat is new to the market, and go ahead and market the boat without a price or “POA” (price on application).  This means your boat should be listed on the global boat listing websites and marketed to your databases, without a price.

This POA strategy achieves two things: first, it generates more enquiries you would get by listing your boat with a price and in the traditional manner (see the blog ‘The Fixed Price Problem’ for more details on that one) and, it means that your boat still gets found in search results.

Often what happens is buyers put an upper dollar limit on their searches, and your boat might not even feature in their search as a result.

2/ Use a ‘trigger event’ within the first 8-10 weeks of being on the market to generate excitement, urgency, and results.

Use a 5-day Online Boat Auction as the ‘trigger event’ at 8-10 weeks into your initial marketing.  This achieves two things:

  1. You may sell your boat at the Online Boat Auction at the reserve price you wanted!
  2. You get real-time feedback from the market on what your boat may currently be worth which allows you to then more accurately price your boat closer to the market value. This means you’re much more likely to sell your boat faster if it is priced according to the market, rather than what you wish you would have achieved.

3/ Plan a comprehensive digital marketing strategy according to your boat’s advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages include:

  • Great brand
  • Priced to meet the market
  • Good condition
  • Service records and recent on-water survey reports are made available
  • Well-presented and maintained vessel

Disadvantages can include:

  • Difficulty in viewing the boat due to its location
  • Priced at what the boat owner wishes for, rather than the market price
  • Not many buyers for that type of boat in the region
  • Not well maintained, a lack of service records or no recent survey information

For boats in Asia, it’s important to identify WHERE the boat is most likely to sell and WHERE the ideal buyers are located.   If the boat needs to be shipped and taxes or GST payable, the sale value drops to take these into account.

It goes without saying that selling your boat in its location is more likely to realise the vessel’s highest value.  The problem is, the buyers for your boat may not be in that same location.

Hard boats to sell and easy boats to sell

Selling boats is never easy. There are very, very few boat sales that any party to the transaction would say ‘that was easy’. There are a lot of details and complexities to be worked through in all but the smallest boat sale or purchase. It’s a complicated process that gets more complex when boats are in far-flung locations in Asia.

In a nutshell, it’s more often than not hard to sell your boat, especially if your buyer or the ‘right price’ is not in Asia or where your boat is currently located.

Here are some factors that make boats hard to sell:


  •  If people have to travel too far to see your boat, they won’t. You’ll attract fewer buyers, UNLESS … it’s very well priced.
  • It’s hard to find the person who is willing to travel and pay you TOP dollar for your beloved boat.
  • Viewings and selling the boat. If your boat is in a distant location, it will cost you money to fly the professional to your boat to represent her to a potential buyer. You can try to get the local neighbour or boat cleaner to assist you, but as mentioned before, selling a boat is complex and it’s so easy to lose your only potential buyer. Leaving them in the hands of someone who you get to ‘open the boat’ is generally not a smart move. You may find you have to spend your marketing budget all over again to find that next potential buyer.

Lack of information or slow response by the owner

  • If people won’t immediately travel to inspect your boat, a recent and detailed in-water survey being made available to them will certainly help them move forward in their enquiry and increase the perception of the boats price and value.
  • If there is no survey or well-presented maintenance records, this can seriously put off a buyer especially if they will need to travel to view your boat for sale.
  • An unwillingness by the owner to provide information or the owner is being difficult or unforthcoming with information may generate a perception that there is something to hide. This will make your boat hard to sell.

We have put together the ‘3-Steps to Selling Your Boat at the Highest Price Possible’ guide.

how to sell your boat


Step 1 – Planning & Marketing

Apart from the importance of making sure your boat’s maintenance is up to date, the boat is immaculately presented, and it is priced right, the first stage is planning, marketing and generating a flood of leads and enquiries for your boat.

You’ll do this by planning who, where, when, how and what the best approach to marketing your boat will be based on where your boat buyers are located.  Then, a strong marketing message is important and reaching the right audience with a good message-to-market match.  Allowing an adequate marketing budget for lead generation is also important in this step.

Step 2 – Enquiries & Negotiating

If the first step has been successfully carried out, there will be a flood of enquiries for your boat.  You’ll have more than 20 leads for your boat for sale.  It’s important to nurture and encourage the leads you receive, especially if your buyer is not in your location as they will need to feel confident enough to take action on a boat outside their location and comfort zone.

Take a look at the boat selling pyramid below which shows the number of leads you’re likely to receive depending on how well you carry out Step 1.

Try to assess where you are on the Boat Selling Pyramid – and your level of confidence in selling your boat faster at the highest price possible.  Can you see where you’re currently sitting, confidence-wise?  What about leads received, or expected leads?

Faster boat sale at the right price

Step 3 – Selling & Documentation

Once you have found a buyer for your boat, successfully negotiating the deal, the terms and subject to conditions is the next stage.

Once an agreement is reached and the memorandum of agreement is signed, the delicate stage of bringing the sale to a successful conclusion gets underway.  This includes the importance of the right documentation, clauses, deposits, sea trials, and handling post-survey negotiations, without losing the sale or dropping your price.

It all these stages are navigated successfully and competently, you’ll be well on your way to the second happiest day of your boating life!

I’m not sure about you, but we don’t relate to this ‘two happiest days’ sentiment.  But, luckily we haven’t been in the unenviable position of not being able to sell our boat and it being on the market for more than a year with zero offers.

(Note: Want more buyers for your boat? Download this FREE Template & Boat Selling Strategy to start getting more sales enquiries for your boat today!)

BASCO Boating free template and boat selling strategy