A Prospective Buyer's view, taken from the DBA Forum....
As someone who is currently looking to buy a barge within the next 12 months, I can say that while price does influence, what is most likely to get your barge on someone’s short list, is the quality of the information you provide. Obviously everyone has a budget, but the number will serve only to get you in the viewing window. After that it’s all about value for money.
If you consider that many barge buyers are likely to be first timers, how well you present your information becomes critical. This is not like selling a house. I know what houses are like and what I should expected for my money. I’ve lived in them my whole life and I am able to look at several houses in the same area in the same day and make clear comparisons, which makes it easy to understand why one property may be priced higher than another. The old real estate adage is ‘ location location location’. If that applied to barges, every vessel for sale would have a viewing address at the end of the Champs Elysees!
The key thing to remember is that the buyer doesn’t know your barge the way you do. This is a common error when selling something technical (which a barge is). You may be selling to someone who doesn’t know why an 80HP engine may better suited than 150HP. Every barge listed for sale has a different engine, a different shape and length (and different reasons to buy that shape and length), a different power supply; some are 10 years old and some are over 100. Some have small wheelhouse, others large; some have a 200 litre fuel tank, others 2000 litre. You get my point! As a newbie to this lifestyle, you can see how mind-numbing this research can get and how easily your barge may be missed. I spend a lot of time trying to work out why one barge is priced so differently to another. If I can’t work out the logic, it generally means the barge doesn’t make my list. Add to this that the barges are scattered to the four winds so you can’t even pop out for a weekend
to have a look.
I have spent the last five months looking at the barge market and I only have 5 barges on my short list and two of these are only kept as a reference point. They range in price from around €180,000 up to €400,000 (and my favourite is at the bottom end – why? – because it has an excellent descriptions and answers all of my questions). For what it is worth, I will tell you what I look for (in the advertisement) and hopefully this may help in your attempts to sell.
I want two bedrooms/two bathrooms. Do you have a detailed layout plan available? Many don’t and it will almost certainly mean that you won’t make my list. Make it a good one and if possible, provide basic dimensions of each room. After looking at price, specs and any photo’s this what I will spend the most time looking at.
- I want a spacious wheelhouse as I see myself spending a lot of time there. Give plenty of detail on the wheelhouse. Interestingly, even though I would like a big wheelhouse, I would still consider a smaller one if the trade off is more space elsewhere. E.g. does your wheelhouse flow out onto the stern?
- Engine – most advertisers cover this well and age and hours are normally considered in the price so it is easy to measure. What is often missing though is fuel consumption. I would like to know running costs and this is the obvious number to target.
- Details on condition and compliance. TRIWV rating and for which zones, when was the last time it was surveyed, and importantly, the condition of the hull. Half of the discussions on this forum are about hull thicknesses yet I rarely see any information on this. Advertisers proudly state that their barge is 100 years old but then provide no indication of the things that matter. Rarely does anyone mention the category rating yet I am interested in this, as I may want to cross the channel one day.
- Price. It’s not so much about cost (for me) but value for money (as you can see by my short list). Tell me why your barge is good value for money.
If your barge is structurally sound and you would reasonably expect it to be that way for many years to come, then say so. I can cope with many small issues, but I really need to know if the plating has worn through. For me, condition priorities are as follows:
- Hull and superstructure. I don’t want to have to spend money on this. Otherwise I would by a shell and start from scratch. So allay my fears.
- Wiring and Plumbing – is it modern and installed professionally? I don’t want to rip out flooring and walls, otherwise ‘as above’.
- Engine and Power supply. Surprisingly (maybe?) it becomes less worrying from here on in because I can consider this in the price. I know that mechanical advice is plentiful and a decent ‘roadworthy’ will identify any issues. I would not be adverse to buying a nice boat with and old engine if the price was right. I can budget for a new engine and change it later. Same-same for the generator.
- Interior fit out. This is the least of my concerns, as most sellers will consider this in the price and it is relatively easy to estimate costs to bring it to the standard I want. As long as the basic layout suits.
I fear that this has become a bit of a ramble but ultimately I suspect that my wants and wishes won’t be that different to most others. Everyone is looking for bang for their buck. If you break your vessel value down into bite size chunks you may notice what information is missing and what can be described more clearly. Remember to sell the positive. If your vessel is sound then give as much information as possible to prove it. If you don’t state it – it doesn’t exist.
And another point...
And as the wife of a nearly 2 meter tall husband - almost no one ever gives interior heights - which was the first deal breaker for us!