Received wisdom may say that the spring is the best time to sell a boat (see How to sell a boat), but there are many compelling reasons for doing so in the autumn. Granted, in the spring there are likely to be more potential buyers in the market, but equally you will be competing against a larger number of sellers. However, in the autumn there are still lots of people on the water hoping to enjoy the last of the summery weekends, while those who don’t (yet) have a boat are liable to be feeling as though they are missing out in a big way.
Furthermore, owners who wait until spring before selling will also have had to look after the boat over the winter (see Laying-up and winterisation tips), ensuring there’s no storm damage, and then clean and tidy her up in the spring, probably paying for a lift to re-antifoul and so on. In addition, they will have to pay for storage over the winter and may even need to enter into another 12-month mooring contract.
However, if selling in the autumn, providing you’ve looked after the boat reasonably well during the summer, little work should be needed to tidy it up for sale. Given the cost and time associated with keeping the boat over the winter, you can also afford to set a realistic price that maximises the chances of selling quickly at or close to the asking price.
If that’s not enough to convince you, the average boat takes more than 300 days to sell. Granted this figure is inflated by the legions of poorly cared for boats for sale at unrealistic prices, but given that the statistics are so firmly stacked against selling a boat quickly, once you’ve decided to sell it’s worth putting the boat on the market (at boats.com and elsewhere) as soon as possible.
Autumn is also the best time to buy a boat
This might sound counter intuitive, but the end of the season is a great time to buy a boat (see Buying a boat: first-time buyers’ guide). Given that most used boats need some changes to suit the needs of their new owners, buying in the autumn means you get to use the boat and find out what does and doesn’t work in good time to make any modifications for the following season. It’s a big contrast to buying a boat in the spring, when suppliers and marine traders such as engineers, riggers and sailmakers will already be working flat out for existing customers.
This post was first published in 2015.