John Staluppi on brokerage
The veteran superyacht owner speaks of buying brokers’ realism for closing the gap between buyer and seller expectations…
How often have we heard that yachts are ‘emotional investments, not financial investments’ at superyachting symposiums? But, it’s true – and for that reason it’s likely that the question, ‘how am I going to sell this thing one day?’ will have played on the mind of the owner.
There are many approaches to catalysing a higher sales price for sellers – whether it’s starting low to sell quickly, accepting the fateful first offer, adding value through refit, or listing speculatively and yearning for the fervid buyer with sudden-wealth syndrome, to name a few.
“As soon as I take delivery of a boat, I’ll put it up for sale,” John Staluppi, owner of 57m Skyfall, the latest in his series of vessels named after James Bond films, tells me as we sit aboard at the Palm Beach International Boat Show.
“Because you never know who might jump in,” he continues. “No-one wants to have to wait three years. People who can afford these boats are getting up in age. He might be 75… By the time he’ll have finished building a new boat, he’ll be 78.”
Skyfall, for sale with of IYC and Thompson, Westwood and White, was listed originally at $36.5 million to test the market. But with Staluppi’s next vessel, 69m Spectre, now 13 months out from completion at Benetti, Skyfall is now keenly for sale at $30.1 million.
"Some brokers will start beating me up, saying you need to lower the price to get the customers in, but I want them to beat the customer up and get the customer to move up to my price."
“When I’m selling a boat, I know what I need to get out of it,” he continues. “You’ll naturally come up with a higher number when you list it for sale – I like to pay my broker on the difference between my price and what he gets. The better job the broker does, the more commission he’ll get.
“Some brokers will start beating me up, saying you need to lower the price to get the customers in, but I want them to beat the customer up and get the customer to move up to my price,” he continues.
Staluppi says the difficulty is when a customer has interest in the boat and his/her broker suggests a farfetched offer, which adjusts the mind-set of the customer to a less probable pricing level.
“Let’s say you want $30 million. A lot of brokers will say, ‘Hey, he’s asking $30 million for the boat, but let’s ask him for $20 million’, just to get the guy to bite. But that number stays in his head, which is wrong, and why you might lose out. I’d prefer the broker gets the customer higher and lets the customer lower his own expectations.”
The onus of the buying broker is to achieve the best deal possible for their client, but this can only be achieved by being realistic and managing expectations. Once the expectations of the buyer and seller drift too far apart, the wiggle-room for negotiation becomes too great, and the deal is lost.
Photo credit: Ginny Dixon
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