As IYC’s Frank Grzeszczak and I discuss the late addition of Burgess as joint central agents (CA) for his Lürssen sales listing, 70m Martha Ann, he says, “As time goes on, more and more joint listings are appearing. It’s a very clear trend – sellers are thinking that two companies promoting a yacht is better than one.”
The Superyacht Intelligence Agency’s data supports this trend: in 2015, approximately 12 per cent of 30m+ brokerage sales were completed under the instruction of two companies (representing the seller). This year, approximately 23 per cent of the brokerage sales, thus far, were joint listings. Similarly, in 2015, 14 per cent of new CA listings were joint listings; and in 2017, 21 per cent of the new listings on the market are joint listings.
“I think it’s very healthy to share listings,” explains Peter Thompson, of Thompson, Westwood and White Yachts, in an exclusive conversation with SuperyachtNews. “You have to have empathy with other brokerage firms. For instance, we work particularly well with Merle Wood & Associates.
“Over the years, we’ve promoted a culture of trust and transparency. We’ve just signed Atomic, a yacht based in the US, but we don’t have a broker in the US. The principal broker, Jean-Claude Carme, is here in Europe, so how do we service the listing correctly without a US broker on board?”
Is a client more inclined to listen, and have decision-making confidence, if two reputable brokers are singing from the same hymn sheet? Thompson thinks so, however Simon Goldsworthy of Edmiston says he is “not a fan” of joint listings and they result in “a mixed message and a loss of feel for what is happening with the CA and the reaction from the market”.
“I think it’s very healthy to share listings.”
Goldsworthy continues: “One of the strengths of the central agency system is that it provides a point of contact for the owner, so that what he or she is thinking is correctly communicated to the market.
“But, with two central agents, it’s inevitable that one will be closer to the owner and the other may be a bit out the loop as a result. It also gives the buying broker twice as much insight, which is sometimes not a good thing for the seller.”
Goldsworthy considers it “redundant” to add another broker to a listing that is already represented by an international brokerage firm with multiple offices and a global reach. “The perceived benefit is geographic; that the yacht will be exposed to people one CA couldn’t reach alone. But, in my opinion, the brokerage market cooperates internationally in 90 per cent of transactions anyway.”
The sharing of marketing material between brokerage firms is typically on a case-by-case basis, when it comes to shared listings. Thompson says he is happy to share marketing material created in-house, but hiring a photographer, for instance, may require input from both companies.
Goldsworthy adds that high-standard marketing material is not invariably reciprocated throughout the brokerage market, so very often brokerage firms will work on their own material. “Although when the joint CA comes after the sole CA, it is usual for the first broker to share their marketing material,” he adds.
"It [sharing listings] gives the buying broker twice as much insight, which is sometimes not a good thing for the seller.”
In terms of sustaining profit margins on sales, Goldsworthy says, “It becomes much harder economically to have three brokerage companies sharing one commission”. In the case of a joint listing, the commission on a sale is typically split between the two listing brokers (20 per cent each) and the buying broker (60 per cent).
Thompson currently has 65m Double Down for sale, which is a rare listing in so far as it’s for sale with three brokerage firms, making it harder for the brokers involved to generate a decent return from their efforts. Furthermore, Goldsworthy’s concerns are that joint listings on lower-value yachts make the yacht less of a priority, because you’re effectively taking away 50 per cent of the incentive.
Thompson recalls a sale when he worked for Cavendish White brokerage firm, where the buyer for a boat called Reverie was introduced by a travel agent in Denver, Colorado. “It was a very lucky deal for that agent – like a blind squirrel finding a nut. But, it showed just how far maximum exposure can take you. You have to have a very broad net. Your role as a central agent is to make sure that everyone with a pulse and drawing breath, that is capable or potentially interested in buying a boat, finds out about it.”
One can’t dispute that Goldsworthy and Thompson have valid points – and while sole CA listings still have a lion’s share of the market, it would seem that sellers are increasingly enticed by the idea of maximum exposure and two answerable brokers.
Image credit: Justin Ratcliffe