In theory a seller would expect to bring a superyacht to market and dictate the terms and timescale of the sale. However, the reality under current market conditions is quite different. Many owners find themselves lumbered with a depreciating floating asset, incurring extortionate OPEX costs and facing a prolonged period of inertia because they have been incorrectly advised by their sales representative.
A culture of placing yachts on the market at artificially high asking prices has undoubtedly damaged the second-hand brokerage market, but conversely, with some major European shipyards operating at capacity until post-2020, the current market presents a prime selling opportunity for the astute owner – willing to offer a quality product at a realistic price point.
Superyacht Buyer took the opportunity to speak to Y.CO sales broker, Will Christie to understand why pricing is his biggest industry grievance and how correct advice, supported by accurate pricing data, can help this segment to battle inertia.
When an owner decides to sell his boat, they will go to a number of brokers to pitch for the central agency. At this point, they are looking for what we can do for them and at what pricing level the yacht should be listed. Some brokers will suggest they can get a very high price for a boat and may subsequently win the central agency on that basis. If one broker is suggesting a price that is 20-30 per higher than other brokers, then as an owner you understandably want to go with that broker, but it’s not necessarily correct advice and the owner’s expectation level is now at a price that is simply not achievable.
When you put a boat on the market, there are normally a handful of people that have been waiting for a boat like that, so naturally there is an instant flurry of interest. Someone may then put an offer in at 20-30 per cent lower than the ‘inflated’ asking price. At this point, the owner is thinking that he won’t accept it, even though it is actually the right price. He then misses that buyer and potentially more because he has been misguided. Then, two years later, he’s still trying to sell the boat after a myriad of price reductions. Once you start reducing the price, buyers will sit back and think that the price reductions will continue, whilst the owner is suffering continual depreciation and running costs.
I could write a book about the number of yachts that sell for 20-40 per cent less than the first offer, and the reason the owner hasn’t taken the first offer is because they have listened to brokers suggesting unattainable prices and their expectation levels are therefore unrealistic.
It’s causing stagnation in the market. There are shipyards out there with clients who are ready to sign new build contracts, but they can’t sell their current yacht, so the whole industry is being held back.
I’m not saying you set prices at the exact level that yachts are being sold for, because you must leave a little room for negotiation, but if you set the price too high then yachts do not move as quickly as they should and it has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the industry. I think we would attract more people to buy yachts if they could see that it was a liquid market. If you buy an asset, you need to know that if you want to sell it one day, you can.
It’s important for owners to look at market data and set the price according to what other similar boats have sold for. Giving an owner market data shows them a pattern that should form the fundamental basis for their selling price. An owner normally wants to sell quickly and at the best possible price and the best way to do that is to price realistically, get quick initial interest, get some good offers and sell the boat.
I would say the role of a broker has never been so important. Before 2008 people were frequently buying at the asking price, but buyers are more careful and educated now, which pushes us every day.
Read the full interview in the Superyacht Buyer section of the next issue of The Superyacht Owner (issue 21), published 26th February 2016.