Selling Your Boat Via Auction In Australia - A Comprehensive Guide


Selling Your Boat Via Auction In Australia - A Comprehensive Guide

Selling your boat can be a daunting task. The traditional method is to engage a boat broker. Brokers provide an excellent service and remove the hassle for the seller. They take care of advertising, purchaser queries, sea trials and the transfer of ownership including obtaining payment.

Sellers who want to save the broker commission (usually 7 -10% of the sale price) can chose to list their boat privately on one of the major Australian boating websites (BoatsOnline, Boatsales, YachtHub). However the sale process can be a time consuming and frustrating exercise especially for first timers.

A third selling alternative is to sell via online auction. There are a number of online auction platforms operating in Australia including Marine Auctions, Grays, Pickles, Manheim and Lloyds. Traditionally these have tended to deal with “distressed” assets and have a reputation as primarily dealing with the “bargain” end of the market. As at February 2024 the following number of boats were listed for auction in Australia:

  • Pickles – 18
  • Grays – 15
  • BoatsOnline – 8
  • Lloyds – 7
  • Marine Auctions – 6
  • Manheim – 5

Based on the above numbers there are approximately 50 boat auctions per month in Australia.

Advantages of Boat Auctions

Fixed End Date

Auctions offer a fixed end date to hopefully achieve the best price in the shortest possible time. Provided your boat has reached the majority of prospective buyers then the bidding process should achieve the best possible price at any point in time.

Creates Competitive Tension

Auctions operate on transparent bidding processes allowing buyers and sellers to witness the price of the boat in real time. The desire to “win” can create competitive tension leading to higher prices especially after the reserve price has been met.

Ease of Sale

Generally the auction platform takes care of the marketing, showing and transfer of the boat including payment. If the boat does not sell at auction, fees are generally low and it is back to the traditional sales channels.

Disadvantages of Boat Auctions in Australia

Fragmented Marketing

It is currently difficult to reach a majority of prospective purchasers. The individual auction websites present fragmented marketing campaigns which do not reach a majority of prospective boat buyers. Each platform has its own active auctions and marketing campaigns which makes it difficult for buyers to easily locate upcoming auctions.


Auction platforms charge a range of fees including sellers commission. buyers commission and listing fees. In general the total commission will range from 10% to 20% of the sale price. However some platforms offer a “no sale no fee” option so be sure to do your homework before selecting an auction platform.


It can be difficult to access the boat prior to auction and to conduct detailed inspections. There can be limitations on running of motors and sea trials are generally not possible. Pre- purchase inspections are a key part of taking the risk out of any purchase. Buyer beware.


Boat auctions have the potential to offer an efficient alternative to established online listing services. For time constrained sales they are probably the best option. However in order to compliment the existing online boating websites (BoatsOnline, Boatsales and YachtHub) with their 10,000+ listings, more work is necessary. In particular coordinated marketing by the various auction platforms and better access to boats to conduct pre-purchase inspections (including sea trials) is required.

February 2024