It will cost a seller time and money to get their own pre-sale survey done on the boat, but it may take months off the sale time. One way to defray the survey cost a bit is to ask for an in-water survey only. Read on-

I’m a strong supporter of getting a pre-sale survey done on your boat BEFORE you sell it in order to help establish valuation and sale price, establish credibility during the sale process, being able to “see” your own boat through outside eyes and using the report to quickly identify issues you may have overlooked.  We used these same techniques when we had a pre-sale survey done on Tulum-IV (Hunter 460) before we sold her in 2017, making the sale smooth and painless as possible.

But why should a seller spend their own money on a pre-sale survey when they know their own boat so well and their broker has told them where the boat should be priced to sell?  Read on and we’ll dive into my reasoning:

  1. Establishing the right value for your boat: Finding the right price to quickly sell your boat at isn’t just a broker going through the latest comparisons (comps), there’s a deft mixture of science and art that must be applied to get it right. I think this is a triad of boat condition, broker knowledge of the market and surveyor’s valuation.  Honestly, most of us think our boat is SOO much better than that other boat….it should sell at a premium price on the market.  Really…even with all the latest electronics, cruising gear and neat clean dodads that every boat is supposed to have, you need to look at overall condition and upkeep as well as brand to determine value…careful not to confuse the lipstick on the pig for overall quality.  This is where a professional, non-emotional surveyor will lend a helping hand, but be careful in case you get a report back that doesn’t support your valuation but screams reality. You CAN influence the valuation a surveyor gives your boat by allowing them access to every space, ensuring the boat is in proper running order prior to the survey and making sure that your boat is neat, clean and clutter free….really clutter free.  Less clutter gives the impression of more space.
  2. Using a pre-sale survey to establish credibility with any potential buyer: This one’s simple math for me. When a buyer is interested in buying a specific boat and takes the time to reach out for info on YOUR boat…whats not more impressive than being able to read a survey that clearly spells out price and condition of the boat.  In addition, most surveyors will also annotate on their reports that issues have been fixed or a fix is in progress.  As a buyer, this would quickly help me establish condition of the boat and that the seller is probably serious about selling.
  3. Seeing your boat through outside eyes: My family and I live on our sailboat as full time cruisers and we think she’s the “bees knees”. We also think that we’ve put significant effort, time and money into bringing her “up” and modernizing her, making her the well equipped and safe sailboat we live on today.  But doesn’t everyone think that about their own boats?  Well, I think most boat owners do but most don’t live on their boats full time and perhaps they have not had to touch and modernize every single system on the boat to make sure it’s safe and functioning….like we have.  I often find that a pair of outside eyes (like a surveyor’s) help to provide non-judgemental, non-emotional feedback on condition and function that I might not be able to.  I mean….do you know how much time I spent trying to fix that system…only to have it fail again?  What do you mean it doesn’t help with value and only detracts from the ambiance of the boat?  See, as owners and full time liveaboards, we’re probably “too close” to the boat to fully be able to see things objectively, but a surveyor and perhaps a listing agent can help with that perspective.  I think outside eyes are also important when selling an older lady like we are- not everyone wants an older boat even if she has the most modern systems around and is safe and steady….and a surveyor can sometimes break that to you gently.
  4. A pre-sale survey to identify issues that you might have overlooked: As the Captain of my own sailboat, you better believe I know every single issue on the boat, but I sure don’t have time to fix every one of those issues. Some seem more important to me than others, but I’m so close to the boat because I live on it that safety and seaworthiness issues are #1.  But why am I sitting on a dock in the middle of a Baja summer….because we’re taking the time to fix cosmetic and long term issues that we know about before our own pre-sale survey!  Surveyor and Broker outside eyes prior to any buyer coming onboard seem important to this writer and I strongly suggest a surveyor looking over your boat just after you list her for sale…especially if you have a larger or older boat that might need that special buyer.

As I said above, we used these same techniques before we sold our first sailboat and I think it helped smooth the overall sale process and we’ll be getting a pre-sale survey on our current boat for sale, just as soon as we get somewhere to find a yacht surveyor.


Full Disclosure:  The author and his family live on their Aleutian-51 Ketch (Tulum V) which is currently for sale in the Sea of Cortez (one of the world’s best cruising grounds).  You can find info about Tulum V by clicking the link.  Inquiries should go to their broker at La Paz Cruisers Supply.  The family isn’t giving up on cruising at all, they just need a bit of a different configuration for their growing family.

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