Basic guide to a perfect yacht broker
Selling a yacht – particularly a large, complex and valuable yacht – can be a challenging process. For instance, how do you arrive at a price that make sense? How do you optimise the appeal of your boat? How and where do you market it? How do you discern real buyers from casual onlookers? How do you conduct viewings? And how do you set about bringing the necessary paperwork together, finalising the sale and organising the transfer of funds?
This is where a perfect yacht broker can prove so valuable. Generally appointed by the seller and paid at the successful completion of a sale on the basis of a percentage of the final purchase price, a yacht broker is your point of access to a broader world of relevant contacts and reliable market intelligence. Operating as the point of contact between buyer and seller, the broker’s basic job is to sell your boat at a strong market price by sourcing buyers for whom it represents the ideal solution. But how do you find the right broker for you and your boat?
Demand an immersive marine background
It’s not necessary for a yacht broker to have a personal passion for yachting or a CV with repeated circumnavigations but it’s always useful if he has a professional backdrop in the marine industry. That might involve boat construction, practical seamanship or marine engineering, but whatever it is, it’s vital that a broker has the breadth of industry contacts, the depth of understanding and the global penetration to access the right markets, source the right buyers and conduct himself with the right degree of thoroughness, knowledge and professionalism.
His established marine credibility will also enable him to operate as a more active and informed part of the industry. He will be able to talk with captains, crews, yacht designers and boat builders on a regular basis, keeping his networks active and his knowledge right up to date. It will also enable him to generate a much firmer and more realistic idea about a workable market price – and not just from his own experience in the industry but by leveraging his contacts and discussing with colleagues what boats like yours are actually selling for in the real world.
Make sure he loves paperwork
Paperwork is a major issue. It can be thorny, extensive and unglamorous and, if you’re not sure what’s required then for both seller and buyer, it can often feel quite intimidating. Expired certificates or missing documents can undermine a sale, even at the last minute, so having someone on your side who knows what’s required and has the tenacity to draw together an exhaustive portfolio of paperwork is very valuable. This doesn’t just encompass the vital basic documents like VAT receipts, proof of ownership and maintenance receipts. It also involves the compiling of relevant technical specifications to distribute to potential buyers and of course the legally compliant documents required to help complete the sale of the yacht to the satisfaction of both parties.
On this last point, it’s also worth noting, particularly on high-value sales, that a good broker will also have direct access to a variety of reliable marine lawyers who specialise in your type of boat and who are able to generate the contract you need with minimal fuss and proportionate expense. You could of course appoint one yourself (or even adapt publicly available Purchase Agreement and Bill of Sale templates to match your own needs). But a good yacht broker wants to serve both you and the buyer well in order to secure your business again in the future, so it’s in his interests to pair you with a lawyer who can get the job done fast and effectively.
Think about his broader support network
It’s usually unwise to appoint a new or independent broker who has no formal affiliation to an established and reputed company. While plenty of brokers are now able to work from home, it is always more credible, more effective and more reassuring if a broker is based at a marine facility with immediate access to boats and the water and direct immersion in the lifestyle he sells.
More to the point, being part of a highly respected brokerage team helps fill the gaps that will inevitably exist in any broker’s knowledge, experience and professional profile. It means that if you like a particular broker’s character and conduct or you admire his capacity to generate and distribute properly targeted marketing assets, you can appoint him to represent your boat even if his direct knowledge of your own form of craft is not exhaustively proven. After all, he is able to approach your vessel with the targeted expertise provided by the collective expertise of the support network around him – and in many cases, that support network is not limited to his immediate office but extends across oceans and continents to key yachting hubs all around the world.
Expect professional online video
The perfect yacht broker needs to exhibit a demonstrable understanding of effective marketing techniques. It’s not enough for him to recognise that the Internet has changed the face of yacht sales. He should also be able to show that he is in a position to leverage the Internet’s value to the utmost – and in most cases, that should include the use of video.
Online video may not be suitable for particularly high-end or bespoke projects, where ‘by-invitation’ visits help preserve the ‘velvet rope’ exclusivity of a yacht and filter out serious buyers from curious bystanders. But highly professional online video remains one of the most vital assets in the modern marketing arsenal. So take a look at some of the videos a broker has made for previous yachts and make sure that, in addition to bringing a yacht to life and showing it in its very best light, they impart sufficient practical and technical information for an interested party to take the process forward. Look also at his online feedback for these videos. This will often involve feedback from previous clients as well as from casual viewers and they often enable you to develop quite a lucid picture of a broker’s calibre.
Play the percentage game
In your search for the right yacht broker, it’s plain that you need someone honest, diligent, well connected and modern in his approach. You will probably also want someone who is conveniently located – and not just for you but for potential buyers of your boat. You want someone with an ethical and professional code of conduct, who can provide you with a written breakdown of the scope of services he offers, alongside a clear account of his fee. And you want one who is fully insured and who can keep any funds protected via a separate Client Trust Account. A good place to start is the Association of Brokers & Yacht Agents (ABYA).
This established industry body is designed to promote the clear and effective management of the interaction between buyer and seller by means of a written code of practice for brokers and retailers. Argo Yachting’s commitment to that code of practice serves as a guarantee that the process will be fair, well informed and transparent, with comprehensive documentation and the reassuring backup of Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance. While reputable brokers certainly exist outside of ABYA’s umbrella, it makes sense to play the percentage game and begin with a browse of the Association’s established members.