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Buying and selling your cruising catamaran successfully

12/03/2009

Buying and selling your cruising catamaran successfully

It’s the big question… What’s the best way to sell my catamaran? Also, how do I buy at the best price, without being taken for a ride? How much does a catamaran really cost? Here is a little memo to help you sell and buy a multihull…

BUYING

- Carry out a realistic analysis of your needs.
At a time when the architects’ and builders’ expertise allows them to answer precisely many distinct cruising programmes, you should ask yourself questions about your real needs.  
Certain boats will be more suitable for a holiday and summer cruising programme, others for a long-term liveaboard project (for example better weight carrying capacity without compromising seakeeping qualities). These choices will have a direct influence on the construction, the volumes, the performance and the equipment. Stand back a bit from the various marketing arguments and carry out an objective analysis of your needs. The ideal boat doesn’t exist; it is just the product of carefully considered concessions.

- Concentrate on the model more than the equipment and/or options.
A lot of comfort equipment makes life aboard easier, increases the independence aboard and adds to safety - generator, watermaker, heating, air-conditioning, radar, AIS, communications systems.
You can easily fit a watermaker on a second-hand boat that doesn’t have one, when you buy it… But you will not be able to replace the hulls or the rig of a boat you bought after being attracted by the plethora of equipment aboard.

- Judge a boat by visiting it, rather than on preconceptions.
Certain catamarans which have been operated by responsible charter companies appear on the market in good condition and with a serious maintenance history.
This type of boat is moreover often offered at a very attractive price and with ‘VAT not paid’ status (allowing leasing finance, just as for a new boat); it is frequently the caser that it forms a perfectly credible alternative.
In the same way, numerous small builders, once the realm of enthusiasts, have produced catamarans in a more or less limited way, which have often proved to be remarkable from a design and construction quality point of view. Less recognised in the eyes of the public, sometimes less standardised than mass produced boats, they can prove to be remarkable in many respects and are often easy to negotiate.  
Therefore don’t exclude any opportunity on the basis of a preconception which may mean you missing a ‘good deal’.

- Carry out a survey systematically (even for a recent boat).
A survey is in any case often required by your insurer and will allow you to avoid any future ambiguity with your seller.

- Negotiate intelligently.
Trying to negotiate the price of the boat is quite a normal thing and is now current practice. However, don’t make it a principle. Sometimes boats can be found whose advertised price is perfectly justified. Your interest lies in the price you finally pay more than the amount of discount obtained. If however you consider that the boat is negotiable, bear in mind that the negotiation is often more a question of psychology and human relations than rational. Defend your offer with arguments acceptable to the seller .

- Think about the re-sale.
In your enthusiasm for exploring the market, don’t forget that one day you will be the seller of the boat. You will not be able to determine the final cost of your operation until you have in turn sold the boat you are preparing to purchase. For this reason, take into account the power of attraction of one model compared to another, the age of the boat you are preparing to purchase with respect to the length of time you think you will keep it yourself. A one or two year-old boat will have a modern design, few signs of wear and recent equipment…but its value will decrease more quickly than an older boat. Over about ten years, a boat’s value will even stabilise (providing of course it is correctly maintained).

- Don’t reduce the professionals’ role to that of advertisers.
After having made enquiries and checked their credibility (for example through other owners who have made use of their services), don’t deprive yourself of the advice these professionals can give you. They often have considerable nautical and technical knowledge themselves, and as they are in daily contact with the market, they will in many cases help you with your reflection. Moreover, (once you have checked their references), as they are open to communicating a precise and illustrated diagnosis from a distance, (don’t hesitate to ask for recent photographs), they will allow you to save time and money by helping you avoid many unnecessary journeys.


SELLING
- Accept the principle of market price.
All sellers possess the most beautiful boat in the world. As a consequence, a good number of owners consider that they can legitimately ask for a higher price than their neighbour. However, this analysis rarely stands up to the realities of the market. Cutting yourself off from the market by fixing an unrealistic price will only lead you to an inescapable decision…consisting of bringing the price back to the market level.

- Present your boat in the most attractive way possible.
This would seem to be obvious, but we note every day that a lot of boats for sale are presented in conditions which do not allow their real qualities to be judged. The purchase of a boat is always an affair of the heart. It is difficult to be immediately attracted by a boat which is dirty, badly tied up, or untidy.
The ideal, when possible, would be to present the boat with its equipment and just its equipment, without all the seller’s personal effects.

- Do not take the principle of a survey as a sign of suspicion.
It is as much to reassure him as to remove any future ambiguities - the fact that the buyer asks for a survey does not mean he suspects you of hiding the truth. Consider it natural that he needs to be reassured (what would you do in his position?) and remember that it will protect you to a large extent from possible unwarranted complaints, once the sale has taken place.
 
- Present full and objective information.
A certain ‘artistic licence’ can often be noted concerning, for example the boat’s year of construction, playing on the ambiguity which can exist between the year it was built and the year it was launched. Whether or not your boat was launched for the first time one or several years after it came out of the builder’s yard (which happens more often than you would think), it is still the case that its design and standard equipment are those adopted by the builder in the year it was built.
In any case, the bill of sale must refer to the year specified on the ship’s papers. If your buyer discovers at the last minute that the boat is older than he believed it to be, he could legitimately try to renegotiate the price.
In general, avoid all ambiguities, voluntary or otherwise, whose only effect will be to make your buyer think that you have trapped him… and as a consequence, break off the sale.  

- Define your selling strategy with a broker.
If there is one profession which is well-informed about the distinction to be made between advertised prices and the price of real transactions, it is the second-hand boat broker. Don’t hesitate to approach them, to judge the price which will allow you to sell your boat reasonably quickly. Remember also that their ‘communication power’ will allow you to reach a much wider public (now often foreign) than is accessible through a few private advertisements… And all this for no cost, until they have sold the boat.
Further reading

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