How to pick the perfect yacht broker

How to pick the perfect yacht broker

If you’re engaged in the purchase of a yacht with modest market value, a boat sale can be quite a simple process. But, as you move up the scale, the yacht sales landscape quickly changes. As yachts become more complex, higher value and more bespoke, it becomes far more difficult to execute even the most basic yacht sale necessities – to establish a strong but realistic market price; to generate the appropriate marketing assets; to show your boat to the right audience; to pinpoint genuine customers; to arrange and execute viewings; to negotiate the right terms; to organise the necessary paperwork; and to handle the finance cleanly and securely. That’s exactly where a quality broker earns his keep.

Who does the broker represent?

In a standard transaction, the broker is paid by the owner or vendor.His primary concern would appear to reside with the well being of his client. But while a good broker’s CV is of course built upon a track record of successful sales at firm market values, an experienced professional knows that both buyer and seller are likely to go through several boats over the course of their yachting lives, so he will work hard to provide a valuable service for the people on both sides of a transaction.

He will do that both by connecting the owner with serious boat buyers and by sourcing yachts for buyers that tally closely with their budgets and ambitions. He will also help remove any doubt from the process – partly by ironing out the logistical, technical and legal issues, but also by taking charge of viewings, surveys and sea trials; by making any negotiations clear and straight forward, by keeping all parties abreast of developments; and by helping manage the final exchange.

As regards remuneration, a broker is most commonly paid at the successful completion of a sale on the basis of a percentage of the purchase price.The scale of the commission needs to be agreed prior to your engagement of a broker – and if a broker requests up-front fees of any kind, simply discard him and move on.

What kind of conduct can I expect?

The Association of Brokers & Yacht Agents (ABYA) is one of three key industry bodies designed to champion a better standard of knowledge and professionalism in relation to yacht sales. It aims to promote the clear and effective professional management of the interaction between buyer and seller by means of a written code of practice, encompassing exhaustive guidelines for brokers and retailers.

Princess Brokerage International’s commitment to that code of practice serves as a guarantee, for both buyer and seller, that the process will be fair, well-informed and transparent; and that it will be reinforced by comprehensive documentation and backed up by Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance. That doesn’t just make buying or selling a boat easier and less stressful; it also helps eradicate any awkwardness from the negotiations, while equipping both parties with complete confidence that any key legal issues like RCD compliance and finance arrangements have been taken care of.

How do I narrow down the shortlist?

Once you have a shortlist of favoured brokers, it’s time to do some more specific research. This should begin with a broker’s specific area of expertise. Every broker’s CV will show him to be more active in one specific sector of the yacht market than another – so make sure you select one with a proven ability to achieve results with the size, type and value of boat you want to sell. That’s not just about his personal knowledge of such vessels. It’s also about his access to the right contacts, the right buyers and the right marketing platforms, so if a web search doesn’t offer up any reassuring testimonials, ask him to provide them.

You should also examine the broker’s live listings. Does his marketing package for a given yacht suggest a simple ‘paint-by-numbers’ approach or does it suggest a greater degree of care, flexibility and market intelligence? Does it tell you what you need to know? Does it show the yacht in its most flattering light? Does it encourage you not just to linger on the content but to pick up the phone and take positive action? Whether it’s a second-hand luxury yacht for sale or a simple and affordable day boat, there is always plenty of direct competition, so a broker needs to make his listings look and feel special.

What kind of marketing plan should I expect?

The nature of a boat’s marketing is always dictated by its scale, type and value. The industry’s most prestigious, invitation-only superyachts, for instance, will demand far more sophisticated marketing techniques than mainstream runabouts. Some may even require high-profile editorial campaigns in the world’s most illustrious yachting and lifestyle magazines, alongside appearances at the world’s finest exhibitions. But even if your boat is toward the bottom end of the broker’s spectrum, you should still expect to be impressed with your broker’s plan. That may involve magazines, shows, targeted emails, newsletters, search engine marketing or social media activities – or it may involve a combination of all six. But whether it’s a straightforward brokerage listing or an integrated global marketing campaign, ask your broker to justify his choices; to expand on why he believes his approach will succeed; and to show evidence of how it has worked for similar vessels.