When a new salesperson starts in catamaran sales, often they start their journey to building a clientele by contacting for sale by owner sellers and trying to convince them into listing their catamaran on a brokerage basis. The process involves searching online for sellers on FSBO sites like this one and cold calling owners. In an ever more sophisticated internet world, this article questions the viability of brokering as a value additive for do it yourself sellers. Can these salespeople really offer something more than you can achieve on your own? We doubt it and argue the real vulnerability of a seller is a lack of patience and confidence in the FSBO process. Further this article seeks to educate you and provide you additional confidence in your ability to sell FSBO especially with the service and support of the webmasters here at CatamaranSite.com.
Why Brokers No Longer Offer Non-Exclusive Listing Agreements
Once upon a time, brokers used to have great success in listing catamarans for sale by owner on a non-exclusive or “open” basis. A traditional listing agreement or “central” restricts an owner from both listing with any other brokerage or selling their catamaran themselves. An open listing agreement differs in that the owner retains both (1) the ability of the owner to sell themselves and (2) the ability of the owner to sell with multiple brokers. In the pre-internet days or in early days of the internet, there were limited marketing opportunities for owners to directly and effectively sell their catamaran. In this world, open listing agreements were a great opportunity for catamaran brokers. An owner selling with multiple brokers if anything was a bigger concern than the owner’s right to sell themselves. To sell themselves, owners would have to buy placements in magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals. These were expensive with a low conversion rate. Most catamaran sales went through people walking into brokerage offices and then being swept around to various catamarans for sale in the local area. How times have changed!
In 2009 when this site was founded, the shift in the ability of owners to market their catamaran themselves had accelerated. Old brokers complained about the good old days where they knew what was for sale, but their clients did not. They were offering a valuable service both to the seller and buyer. The interaction between salesperson and seller was very beneficial as the salesperson was much more in control of a buyer’s search process. Driven by both the Great Recession and the growth of the internet, brokerages started eliminating magazine marketing from their budgets. Why pay $3,000 per month for a full page in Multihulls World when all their clients inquire via the internet? The only paper inquiries brokers received were from prisoners or very old people who were not good candidates to purchase a catamaran.
So building a clientele based on open agreements with the owner’s right to sell themselves became difficult. The salespeople had to put a lot of effort into calling and convincing clients to sign up on a non-exclusive basis. The result was simply another marketing channel for catamaran owners, and buyers, however they discovered the listing, eventually found direct contact with the owner and negotiated on that basis with both parties often saving money on the transaction. Simply put, open listings became nearly worthless. The internet had empowered owners to be able to market their catamarans at a nearly equal basis to brokers. To this day, if you are able to get a broker to list your catamaran and retain the right to sell yourself (and ask a properly discounted price to direct buyers considering the cost savings), you will very likely sell your catamaran yourself.
How to Sell Your Catamaran Yourself
In the decade that followed, we have only seen the opportunity and advantages of selling a catamaran by owner increase. Listing on a site such as this one is easy, inexpensive, and generates a wide coverage of search engines, mailing lists, and social media sites. There is absolutely no doubt that interested buyers will find your advertisement. The issues related to selling yourself versus a broker are more educational gaps that we seek in this article to help supplement and that our services at CatamaranSite.com further eliminate. Below are five lingering friction areas beyond marketing and how you can offset them when you sell FSBO on CatamaranSite.com
1. Showing Your Catamaran
Instead of focusing on the exercise of convincing someone during a showing, the sales process is front loaded towards convincing sellers with an excellent advertisement and friendly responsiveness to emailed inquiries. Buyers because of the internet are well versed in their options and serious buyers usually have in depth spreadsheets comparing the pros and cons of catamarans for sale. Over half of offers are done prior to seeing a catamaran. Buyers often even have support from unbiased experts helping guide them in their purchase. There is no magical script that a listing agent can use to better sell your catamaran than you can. No longer are buyers dropped off by their wives at brokerage offices and whisked around not knowing what their options are. So whether you are present, a friend or relative, or even the guy you are paying to wash your catamaran prior to the showing, it will be just as effective in this internet era as a listing agent in our experience. More important are the photos and specifications in your advertisement.
2. Paperwork / Escrow
Concerns about escrow and paperwork may be the next issue which can push owners into listing with a brokerage. There are numerous resources for standard paperwork used by brokerages available online. Our catamaran forms page offers standard forms and many other samples can be found from a Google search. We also recommend a documentation agent on our forms page. Documentation agents or a maritime attorney can often provide escrow services to minimize concerns of the both you and the buyer of how to handle funds. Brokers simply refer out to these agencies anyways and rarely do in house paperwork. A growing number of brokerages do not even escrow funds internally. Brokers are marketing agencies which is exactly the skill that you no longer need to outsource when you have the support of a marketing service such as CatamaranSite.com.
3. Buyer Broker Opportunities
Historically maybe the biggest drawback in selling your catamaran by owner was the loss of buyers who are represented by a broker. But times have changed, and buyers are ever more aggressively searching online for what they want. They will find your advertisement and send it to their buyer broker. At that point, you can negotiate with their buyer agent considering your net price and have them pass their broker costs on to the buyer. Or you can choose not to work with them on a broker basis and try to push for a direct sale. Buyers are not innocent to the fact that there are for sale by owner listings as well as brokerage listings. And their number one criteria is finding the catamaran of their dreams whatever the method.
4. Seller Presentation
A second opinion on your online advertisement and the presentation of your catamaran is important and another area that used to be a unique value add of listing with a broker. These days we here at CatamaranSite.com are unique in our ability to offer feedback to you on your photos and specifications. The webmasters here review your advertisement before it goes live to make sure it presents optimally to buyers both in terms of photography and specifications. While we are unable to provide in person feedback, a request to a friend may help or searching online for common advice. The common advice from brokers is to transition your catamaran from cruising to boat show mode. Going to a local boat show and seeing how catamarans are presented there may help you see what else can be done to present your catamaran in the best light.
5. Pricing Advice
A final item formerly of value from a listing agent is pricing advice. Times have changed, and we here at CatamaranSite.com now have as long of a history and database of sales as any broker. We are happy to provide pricing information from our database as a service to sellers. Looking at our sold prices as well as active asking prices or sale pending prices will give you as much data as any broker can provide. As well, our pricing information is unbiased while broker prices can be artificially reduced to get sellers to ask lower prices or artificially increased to convince buyers to pay more for a catamaran. CatamaranSite.com has no incentives that work against your desire to sell your catamaran directly to buyers.
Before the internet took off, there was value in hiring a salesperson to represent you and take care of all the details. Today brokers are more of an option for (1) owners who do not want to be engaged in the sale process or (2) owners who get frustrated selling FSBO and give up prematurely. The goal of this article is to provide more details to frustrated sellers, so they can keep the course and understand that there is nothing special in what a listing agent can do versus what you can do yourself with the support and services at CatamaranSite.com. We seek to make selling your catamaran ever more easily attainable for the do-it-yourself owner. Please see our listing page for testimonials and instructions and on how to submit your catamaran for sale on this website and best wishes to you from everyone here.
Our experience is that your biggest barrier to successfully selling your catamaran yourself is your patience and confidence in the FSBO process.