Ian Swan is a marine specialist broker from Swan Super Lines whom we’ve had a number of dealings with over the years. They recently added us to their Trust and Respect Alliance – local businesses that the company has good working relationships with. Ian agreed to talk to us recently about what he does as a broker and why it’s a good idea to use a broker when you’re selling a boat. While it might seem counter-intuitive to pay someone a commission when you could get the entire sale price yourself, there are a number of reasons that using a broker is a good idea.

Get all your ducks in a row

It’s incredibly frustrating to lose a sale because of some detail that, if picked up earlier, could have been solved quickly. A broker does this sort of thing all the time, and can help you to sort out exactly which paperwork and details you need to have handled before the listing even goes public. Some of that paperwork will include:

  • Proof of ownership.
  • Proof of clear title – that any loans used to buy the boat have been paid off.
  • Maintenance records.

Boat preparation

Another area in which boat brokers have a lot of experience is in preparing boats for inspection by prospective buyers. First impressions are very important, and great presentation can add significant value to your boat. A boat broker will take your boat through a number of steps, including:

  • Buffing, polishing and waxing.
  • Carpet cleaning.
  • Checks for unpleasant odours.
  • Paint colours – does it look dated/unfashionable.
  • Fixing any existing mechanical issues.

Realistic appraisal

It can be difficult for a boat owner to judge its value – you’re too close emotionally to the boat and to the sale. A boat broker, on the other hand, can give you an unbiased and realistic valuation of the boat and provide advice on the sale price based on previous experience.

Sales channels

Boat brokers have access to a variety of sales channels, including print and digital listings. They’ll also be able to advise you on which of those will work best for your boat and the price range you’re hoping to achieve.


Some times of year are better than others for selling a boat. For boats over 24m, the period just after boat shows tends to be busier. Brokers will know the prime selling periods for your size and type of boat.

Experience in haggling

With almost every boat sale comes the people who’ll tell you that you’re asking too high a price, and offering something substantially lower. In the heat of the moment, when someone’s explaining that no one will want to buy it at the asking price and that you’re about to lose the best offer you’ll receive, it can be very tempting to just cave and go for the lower price. Using a broker negates this whole experience – you know that you’re asking a realistic price, and the broker can negotiate with prospective buyers on your behalf.

Smooth sale

Using a broker can ensure that the sale of your boat goes as quickly and easily as possible. They’ll have all the correct, legally-binding paperwork to be filled out, and know what needs to be done at every stage.

How do I find a broker?

The Boating Industry Association (BIA) have a number of member brokers, and hold their members to a high standard of ethics and behaviour. You can search their website for members located close to you.