Selling Your Yacht: Choosing the Right Broker
You have come to that point in the lifecycle of motor yacht ownership when you have decided to sell your boat. The first question you need to ask yourself is, “how do I decide on yacht broker?” A yacht broker can take all of the stress out of the experience of selling your boat, but the next question is how do you choose not only the broker, but the company to represent you?
Consider your choices and be careful of hiring a captain who is “playing” broker part-time.Many people turn to their captains to be their broker, and why not, he certainly knows you, and knows your boat. But, that does not make him a great salesperson. After all, your housekeeper probably knows your residence better than anyone, yet, when it comes time to sell your home, you wouldn’t think of hiring her as your real estate agent, would you? The same holds true of your captain. Your captain may be a seasoned mariner and expert yachtsman, but that does not mean he will know the complex details of negotiating and finalizing the sale of your motor yacht.
While your captain may not be the best person to actually sell your boat, on the other hand, captains can be a valuable resource in helping you find the broker who is. Ask your captain It’s likely he knows the good brokers in your area, and like any good captain, the sharks to steer clear of!
A Better Broker
The first thing you want to look for in a yacht broker is a professional. You want to deal with an experienced salesperson who does this for a living, and not just some part-time “weekend warrior.” Your broker should be trained in sales, and have the product knowledge specific to your boat, and should work for a company that specializes in your market. Today, one of the most important skill-sets for a yacht broker to have, is a thorough understanding of marketing, and particularly, the importance of leveraging the internet to present your yacht in the best light possible. Being a successful yacht broker requires a vast range of knowledge to include negotiating skills, product knowledge, understanding of the rules and regulations, and of course marketing expertise.
Online appeal is the new curb appeal. taking into consideration the amount of boats on the market and how people shop online, it’s not about simply throwing your boat “out there.” Professionally presented and listed boats, with high-end photos and videos, will not only attract more buyers, it will let them know you are selling a high-end and well cared for boat. A yacht that is poorly presented online will be thought to be in poor condition, and the ad likely ignored.
This is more important than ever. If your broker or his or her company doesn’t understand this, then he or she is the wrong broker for you. Any salesperson worth their salt can tell a potential buyer how wonderful your boat is, and why it’s what they are looking for. But, today, a buyer wants to see that for themselves first, before he or she ever comes close to contacting your rep. That is why your best foot forward must be made online, and you want a broker that knows the ins and outs of online marketing. Potential buyers will spend hours researching boats online long before they ever speak with your sales representative. By the time they are ready to speak to the salesperson, they’ve either already made a decision, or have a strong opinion, which should have been formed by your boat’s presence online.
Where to List
Where your boat is listed for sale, is almost as important as how it is presented online. Ask any broker you are thinking about hiring where they advertise.
Yachtworld.com and Yatco.com are the two most important Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to be on. Almost all buyers these days visit yachtworld.com. However, top-brokers understand that Yatco actually has better presentations, than yachtworld.com, and more experienced brokers tend to refer to Yatco when searching for boats for sale.
Always list your boat for sale as a “central” or “exclusive listing” with one broker and/or brokerage house. If someone agrees to an open listing they are not the right fit and will cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. Open listings simply do not work anymore in the online world, and anyone suggesting them is “old school,” and not up on the latest and most successful techniques to sell your boat.
Originally, the idea behind open listings, was so you could have multiple brokers representing and marketing your yacht. But today, since most brokers advertise on the same online sites, being non- exclusive just muddies the waters, and devalues your boat, and yourself as the seller.
Today, everyone in the industry knows when they see an open listing, that the owner must be real difficult to work with, and does not care enough, or understand the value of working exclusive. It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you or you tell yourself, an open listing is just a bad idea and will do the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve…which is sell your boat the fastest way, and for the most amount of money.
Have a Focus
It is also important that your broker have a focus. A company that sells 30 foot center consoles and also claims to sell 100 foot motor yachts does not have a focus or a specialized market. You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t expect your broker or any company you are speaking with to be.
Take a look at our home page, right there it says, STRICTLY MOTOR YACHTS FROM 70-140. Don’t ask us to sell your 38’ Sea Ray. We are not the right company and will tell you that. Don’t be fooled by these companies trying to be everything to everyone. You wouldn’t take your Bentley to a car dealership that sells Toyotas 90% of the time. It’s no different with boats.
What You Can do to Help
By now, you probably have come to realize that selling a motor yacht is not easy, even for the best broker! As the seller, you need to work with your broker, and do everything you can to make the sale of your yacht easier, and not harder.
Too many times we see large motor yachts that are poorly maintained. As an owner, you need to realize that the condition of your boat is typically the most important factor to selling her quickly and for the best price.
Lack of proper maintenance will depreciate your yacht faster than anything else. Do not be “penny wise and pound foolish.” For example, refusing to change sagging headliners that may cost you a few thousand dollars to replace, will cost you well beyond the replacement cost when a buyer presents an offer. Sellers also need to remember that maintaining your boat is not an improvement. Do not make the mistake of thinking that maintenance adds value. It maintains value, improvements improve value. Premium dockage, and keeping your engines well maintained and serviced, are not improvements, but they will help you to be sure you get the true market value for your boat.
Where you decide to dock your boat when it is up for sale, also can make a very big difference. Location is vital to getting the best offer for your yacht. No matter how great you think your boat is, the truth is, typical buyers will not travel to preview your boat if it’s off the beaten path. Having your yacht positioned in South Florida will without question bring you the most frequent and the best offers.
Consider how many boat and yacht brokers are in South Florida….thousands. This alone is the reason why you should position your boat in South Florida. On the buy side, why would a broker want to travel to Georgia, when there are 20 other boats to look at in Fort Lauderdale? Even if you’re boat is on the top of a buyers mind, it will be the last one to consider if it can’t easily be seen in a central location. If a buyer is in South Florida, even if your boat that is elsewhere is on the top of his or her list, but he or she previews three others first and one grabs his attention, he will make an offer on that boat and completely forget about yours. I see this happen all the time.
Finally, the last thing to consider is your crew and who will maintain the boat while it is up for sale. There are more affordable options beyond having a fully crewed boat. Yacht management companies that specialize in caring for yachts for sale such as Florida Yacht Management can be an affordable option that provide a win-win for buyer, seller, and broker.
FYM offers full-time management with the most advanced online software giving the owner a real time status report. They can offer crew when needed through their Select Crew Program. They also know what’s involved for showings and how to have the boat ready for a survey. This alone can not only save you thousands of dollars, but help the entire sales process. Having this service attached to the sales side also gives the less experienced buyer the support and confidence they need when buying their next boat. Knowing that they will have a complete team looking after their needs, again, makes your boat that much more attractive.
The bottom line is, the role of your broker is to remove the hassles of selling your yacht. He or she is there to protect your interests, and to pre-qualify buyers, so nobody’s time is wasted. But the most important reason why you should use a broker when selling your yacht, is a good broker will be an honest and ethical broker, who will keep everything about the transaction “above board.”
What it all boils down to is this, when it’s time to sell your yacht, should 26 North be your broker? Of course we think that we should given your boat fits our market. But whether you choose us or not, ask these critical questions of any broker you are considering:
- Do you have a CRM?
- Do you offer HD Videos?
- What boat shows do you attend?
- What were the last three boats you sold?
- What does your company offer beyond the regular MLS’s and magazine Ads?
- How do you differentiate your listings from the thousands already online?
In fact, I encourage you to call our competitors and ask them these questions first, then call us – and compare the answers. Once you do, you should have a better understanding for who is the right company and broker for your yacht.