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Should You Trade, Broker, or Sell Your Boat on Your Own?

(There is no right answer for everyone, just the right answer for you.)

 

This is a question with a different answer for different people, so let me share the benefits for each option.

 

The Money Saving Option:

 

This option that will keep the most money in your pocket but take the most time and effort on your part  to sell your boat yourself.  Then, buy your new boat without a trade.

See, boat dealers have to make a profit on the trades they take in.  The good ones invest some money to clean, service and market the boat prior to selling it.  So, if you can handle the cleaning, servicing and marketing on your own, you can expect to put more money in your pocket, then negotiate on your new boat.

 

The Convenient and Time Saving Option:

 

If you are a boater, you are probably a successful person.  And, as successful people know, time is money.  Yes, you can put a few extra bucks in your pocket by selling your current boat out-right, but for many their time is even more valuable.

 

For these successful folks, the ease and convenience of trading makes the most sense. 

You can bring in your old boat, pick up your new boat and only spend 15 to 20 minutes dealing with the whole transaction.  The dealer will handle all the paperwork and you’ll get a fair ‘Dealer Value’ for your boat.  This value is generally in-line with the NADA guide and based on the condition of your boat. 

 

In Michigan there is also the mater of sales tax on the difference. You will get 100% tax credit for the boat you are trading in toward the purchase of a new boat. Ex. Trade in value $40,000 and new boat value $100,000.  You will only pay the sales tax on the difference - $60,000.

 

Beware that it’s difficult to compare trade allowances from dealer to dealer.  Some dealers will jack up the price of their new boat so they can ‘show’ you a higher value on your trade allowance.  While other dealers discount their boats upfront and show your trade allowance based on the actual value they would buy your boat out-right for cash (with or without buying a new boat).  One way isn’t necessarily better than the other however it is important to understand how the game is played.

 

The Hybrid Option:

 

If you are able to buy the boat you want and don’t mind owning two boats for a period of time, this hybrid option may work for you.  It may put a few extra bucks in your pocket without taking any time out of your busy schedule.

 

Listing your boat on brokerage (or consignment) with a reputable dealership can work for some boaters.  The dealer will generally charge a ‘brokerage fee’ of 10% to 12% of the final sales price but this may put a little more money in your pocket than a straight out trade.

 

Of course, it may take some time to sell your boat and you generally won’t have access to it during the brokerage process so you have two choices.

 

1. Buy the new boat you want before you sell your old boat knowing you’ll own two boats for a period of time

2. List your old boat first and buy the new boat you want when it sells, knowing you’ll be without a boat for a period of time

None of the options above is the ‘Right’ option for everyone.  It really depends on your situation and what is most important to you.

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