The charter market is “looking a little better, if not comfortably better than last year in terms of volume of business”, so says OCEAN Independence’s commercial director, Toby Maclaurin.

Speaking exclusively to ahead of the Monaco Yacht Show Maclaurin confirmed that the charter market is showing signs of encouragement, and crucially, prices are on the rise, a sure indication that the dynamic is changing. “We’re relatively pleased about how the average value of each transaction has changed.”

Of the sales market however, he is less glowing. Volume is undoubtedly on the rise – Maclaurin says OCEAN has completed 17 transactions in 2014 to date and he expects this figure to rise to 25+ after the busy show season, more than the 21/22 post-crash average – but he is not seeing any movement on prices towards the seller.

“The disappointing bit is that we’re not seeing a corresponding improvement in the value of each transaction; there’s no firming up of prices and it’s still a buyer’s market”, he explained. “As a seller, with positive activity filtering through, I would be looking for offers closer to the asking price, but the reality is that isn’t happening.”

Maclaurin says that this market shift is unlikely to occur until finance options return to the market, an eventuality that in itself seems increasingly unlikely. There is a dearth of lending at the smaller end of the market, the sector that constitutes second-hand sales, and it seems that loans are only available at the higher end of the new build market. This lack of liquidity is, he says, a primary reason for consistently low prices.

But despite the context of this constrained market, he expects the positive vibes permeating the industry to carry on into the show season. “There’s enough buyers out there making offers for sellers to ascertain the true market value of his yacht”, he says. “Whereas before you might wait a year and a half and receive one low offer, now you’re getting the offers in more quickly and it gives the broker a chance to be authoritative and say, ‘today that is a fair market price’.”

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