There is not a lot more to suggest how well a yacht has been maintained than an inspection with the naked eye – expenditure, even, can be in vain and have no real bearing on the standard of upkeep. Shirking thorough maintenance is hugely detrimental to a yacht’s residual value. The adage, ‘you’ll only get out of it what you put into it’, certainly holds true in this regard.
“There are two key components to selling a second-hand boat; the original platform and how well it’s been maintained,” begins Thom Conboy of Heesen. “I could give identical boats to two different owners, and two years later, their valuations might be millions apart. If a yacht is maintained to a high level, especially a Dutch-built boat, you can expect the maximum depreciation to be no more than 30 per cent.”
While Conboy believes an owner will never make an overall profit over the course of their time in yachting, he offers some examples of diligent owners who have made substantial returns on their investments.
“Satori and Monaco Wolf sold for fractionally less than their contract price after about three years of ownership and the owner of Man Of Steel sold the boat for more than the contract price. It all comes back to one thing and one thing only: maintenance.” He is, however, candid in adding that a few Heesen constructions have been very poorly maintained since delivery and have struggled on the re-sale market as such.
And for that, you can only really empathise with the builders. After years of craftsmanship and refinement, a blemish-free work-of-art leaves their sights, but their participation in sustaining this appearance – and, ultimately, the yacht’s residual value, which unfairly affects the yard’s reputation for other projects – becomes restricted. “The only hold we have over the re-sale of our yachts is that, typically, the re-sale of Dutch and German products tends to be very good.
“Heesens have tremendous residual value,” Conboy continues. “I had to demonstrate this to the buyer of project Nova. He was new to yachting and had been told that every boat is worth 50 per cent of its value after the first year, so I gave him the phone numbers of the former owners of Monaco Wolf, Man Of Steel and Satori. They spoke to him and told him how they’d made money, or lost very little."
But, how can you maximise a yacht’s residual value? Conboy’s advice is simple: “Start with the right platform and maintain it, with a consistent captain, a consistent crew and an owner who understands and knows what they have to pay.” While the maintenance standards on superyachts tend to be very good, the extent of the benefits to an owner of a well-kept yacht can only be reiterated to them time and time again.