Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ebay for Selling and Buying Boats

A Piccolo sailing canoe for auction at Ebay (Photo courtesy of

For me, sailing boats are irresistible, and Ebay is one of those places I can visit, not to buy a boat, but to dream and monitor the current market. There, a vessel can be found at her true monetary worth, i.e., what buyers are prepared, willing and able to pay.

A seller can advertise his boat in the form of a classified advertisement, or place her in a category where he can accept offers, or buy now, or he can auction her. By far, the most popular option is for the straight forward auction category. This last method can include a reserve price to ensure that the vessel does not go for a stupid giveaway price.

If you are putting your boat up for auction you have to decide whether you want to start the bidding at a low price to encourage bidding, or whether to kick-off at a price near the figure you would like for her. I quite often see sailing boats being advertised for auction at a value far higher than the market rate. Usually, these vessels are there for the week, fortnight, or whatever the length of the auction, without a single bid being placed. The advertiser is then left with a bill to pay to Ebay for an auction that never was! He would have far better researched the market and placed his boat for auction at a rate, perhaps a third of her true value, to get people bidding. If two or three people are really keen on a boat, the bidding can become intense, with a rapid increase in the bidding during the final five minutes.

Once in a while, a vessel will go to a bidder at a fraction of the true value, but this is not necessarily a blow to the seller, because he simply wants to get rid of his possession, as she is costing him a packet to keep. He has mooring fees, and other running costs, and maybe he is in a position where he is unable to use the boat through illness, change of location, or other circumstances.

In my experience, a reserve price can be off-putting and counterproductive to bidding. Quite often there will be pranksters, who have no intention of getting the boat, but they want the ‘thrill’ of placing a bid, so they make a ridiculous bid below the reserve price. They know full well that the owner will not let his boat go for the amount they are offering.

I think Ebay is an excellent window for advertising a vessel for sale, because it’s a very popular venue for those wanting to buy one. There are risks involved in buying from Ebay; therefore the buyer needs to satisfy himself that he will be getting what is advertised. He would do well to see the boat before making a bid or an offer. He would also be advised to seek out the seller’s Ebay history, to ascertain if his feedback score is acceptable. If he has a 100 percent positive score with more than 10 to 20 items, there need be no concern, but if he has several negative feedback comments, it would be worth looking more carefully before placing a bid.

I once became involved in making a bid for a boat, only to discover that the so-called owner could not prove ownership by way of a ‘Bill of Sale’ from the previous owner. That may not matter for a very cheap boat, but when the bidding is in the thousands of pounds, that little bit of paper is very important, especially for the bidder to know that there are no hidden outstanding bills to be paid on or in connection with the vessel, such as mooring fees or a marine mortgage etc. A legal Bill of Sale will include such a guarantee absolving a new owner.


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Piccolo wooden canoe classic boat sailing canoe


Brian said...

So here I am Bill, watching this little Piccolo sailing canoe - and you go and tell everyone about it! Will carry on watching it though - I also have some sailcloth to make a little sail for her - did read she is not a good sailor though - how could such a small hull have much stability. Nice though. Must stop, must stop.....

William Serjeant said...

Sorry Brian,

I didn't realisze you were interested in her. I would have been, had I space to keep her undercover in the garage.

She's a fine weather boat for paddling and sailing when the sun is shining and there's only a zephyr.