While it can be easy drawing parallels to the sales processes of different brokerage communities, it is also important to examine what is done differently, and whether our niche industry can learn something from the long established brokers in neighbouring luxury markets.
According to one time property realtor Loren Simkowitz, President of Monocle Yachts which specialises in fractional ownership, "there are a lot of similarities between real estate brokers and yacht brokers. A real estate broker helps find the right property for you, a property that you can manage. A yacht broker also helps you find the right property, but you will likely only be on the yacht a few weeks a year, so you are left with a year's worth of management hassle".
As for the aptly named brokerage firm, Yacht & Villa, broker Mark Seaton thinks cross over is inevitable and can even prove profitable for all involved. "the basic skills remain the same when listing a yacht or a villa. And as for how clients are treated - ultimately, we're selling trust and looking to establish long term relationships. Why make it one dimensional when there's an easier way? Often we have clients who maybe purchased a villa, then wanted to charter on holiday, or upgrade and buy a yacht to keep at a holiday home. They owner may find the roles of certain members of the yacht's staff (i.e. chefs and stewardesses) may be interchangeable and transfer equally well to their villa when on land".
What both agree on is the increased intricacies and complications that can arise during yacht transactions compared to property deals. Naturally, when purchasing a piece of real estate, you are settled in one location, with one broker and notary involved. However, yachting can cross many international jurisdictions and as a result create hoops and headaches for those involved in the transaction. Seaton comments "you might have an owner based in Asia, but the yacht is Cayman flagged, and anchored in the Med, and that doesn't include all of the reps, lawyers and other people involved in such a process".
In addition, both comment on the greater weight placed on training and licensing in the real estate world. Simkowitz explains "The real estate broker is licensed through the real estate broker association and must take courses to update new real estate laws periodically in order to keep their license. They also have an ethic code of conduct to adhere to." Having recently obtained his real estate license as well, Seaton says "it's a hard and arduous process which first requires a business degree and passing exams unique to each jurisdiction."
However, even though all of these guidelines are in place, Seaton believes the standards remain higher in the yachting industry. "I think we work to a higher level of service in the yachting industry, even though it isn't necessarily government regulated". Simkowitz agrees that while "there is a state issued yacht broker license allowing them to do business in that state and a Yacht Brokers Association established to recommend how a professional yacht broker should conduct business, there is no government watchdog on the transactions." As a result, perhaps brokers in the superyacht industry take it upon themselves to work to a higher level of service than those that can rest on the minimum government requirements.