2021 Market Update: Used yacht sales near 400 as market boom continues

Written by Ralph Dazert

With the first half of 2021 coming to a close, SuperYacht Times takes the pulse of the superyacht market over the last six months, and reflects on the turbulent market during 2020. Following a significant dip in sales at the start of last year, the second half of the year showed a marked recovery from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, in 2021, we are seeing an impressive rebound, with the market having moved from strength to strength. We have recorded a standout 381 used yacht sales over 24 metres since January – well above the level of preceding years. The new yacht market has likewise performed well, almost reaching numbers comparable to the bumper year of 2018, with over 100 new yachts sold over 30 metres. 

Here we have taken an in-depth look at the state of the yacht sales market, based on data from our market intelligence system, SYT iQ and have spoken to some top industry professionals, to give you a broad overview of the current superyacht market. Lady Moura yacht by Blohn + Voss in PortofinoPhoto: Tom van OossanenNew Yacht Sales

New yacht sales recovered a lot of lost ground during the second half of 2020, as the effect of the Covid-19 started to fade away. We are happy to find that this positive momentum has carried on into 2021. New yacht sales over 30 metres during the first half year of 2021 amounted to 90 yachts, consisting of 86 motor yachts and four sailing yachts. As not all new yacht sales are announced, we do expect that the final count over the first six months will exceed 100 sales. If we put this sales result into perspective by comparing 2021 sales to the same periods of 2018/2019/2020, we find that the new yacht sales market is indeed doing very well. The number of 90 sales is on a par with the good year of 2017 and not that far behind on the sales numbers for 2018, which was the year with the highest amount of new yacht sales in the past ten years. The very strong performance of the 60-80 metre segment is immediately apparent, but also the 40-50 metre segment is doing very well.

Sale of new superyachts from 30 metres, January-June 2017-2021What we have seen in this first half of 2021 is that clients are more interested than ever in taking quick delivery of their new yacht. Sarah Flavell of Amels and Damen Yachting commented, “The biggest change we have experienced over the last 18 months is probably that of demand. Sales have certainly not dropped off or slowed down, and there has been a trend towards a swifter decision making process on the client side. Those who may have been looking for some time are no longer holding back or waiting. For us this has translated to the sale of 7 new build projects across our complete portfolio as well as a number of refits. And the busy times are not over yet – we are seeing the demand continue.”Amels 20002 yacht launch in VlissingenPhoto: Tom van Oossanen / AmelsThis pattern can be seen across the board, with 44 out of 90 sales, speculation and stock sales had an almost equal share of new yacht sales to sales of projects started for the client, which saw 43 sales. If we compare this to the ‘top selling’ year of 2018, spec sales were a much smaller part of overall new yacht sales back then, at 41 out of 110 sales. However, we do notice that currently, units of popular yacht models of mainly Italian and British builders are increasingly selling before their construction is started, which could lead to a majority share of sales of projects started for the client in the sales results for the full year of 2021.

While already holding the top spot in previous years, so far in 2021 Italy has cemented its position for top new build yachts sold. So far Italian yards have sold 58 of the 90 yachts sold, a share of 64%. For comparison, in 2017 and 2018 the Italian market share was 41-44% of sold new builds.Triumph yacht cruising Used Yacht Sales

The used yacht sales market posted spectacular results in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. You will soon be able to find out just how well that market did by downloading a free copy of our upcoming market report The State of Yachting 2021. Did the used yacht sales market do just as well in the first half of 2021? The short answer is: yes, it did extremely well. 

As for the first half of 2021, the positive trend has only gained pace, with an extremely strong six months in the market. Total used yacht sales for yachts over 24 metres in 2021 now amount to 381 yachts, almost twice the number sold in the first half of 2020. While 2020 was an unusual year, these results even hold their own against 2019, with 261 sales, and 2018 with 269 sales.

Jamie Edmiston, Chief Executive of yacht brokerage Edmiston, concurs with our findings, commenting, “The yacht market has been extremely strong over the last 12 months. We have achieved record second hand yacht sales in the year 2021, and we are cautiously optimistic this will continue for the next quarter”.

If the market retains this impressive pace, we could theoretically see more than 750 used yacht sales in 2021 – but is that realistic? During 2020 we recorded 534 used yacht sales over 24 metres, the highest number we have on record, but can the supply of yachts on the market keep up with the pace? In recent years, around 1,050 yachts over 24 metres are newly listed for sale each year. Over the first six months of 2021, 451 yachts were newly listed for sale, which, if extrapolated to the full year, would lead to 900 new listings, a shortfall of around 150 listings. So, while we can certainly expect a very good full year result for the used yacht sales market, it is unlikely that the aforementioned number of 750 sales will be reached.Halo yacht anchored in the Papagayo Peninsula, Costa RicaPhoto: SYT ReaderAlready this year we have seen some standout used yacht sales, such as the 104.85-metre Lady Moura, one of the most renowned superyachts in the world and the 57.47-metre Feadship Halo, both of which were sold in June.Sale of used superyachts from 24 metres up, January - June 2018-2021In 2021 the average price reduction of used yachts on the market is getting smaller, at -€565,000 per reduction or 8.3% off the previous price. Over the full year of 2020, the average reduction was -€605,000 per step or 10.4% off the precious price. The smaller price reductions could be an indicator of a tightening market.Dr No No yacht arriving at Monaco Yacht Show 2019 Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesConclusion

The superyacht brokerage market has not only recovered from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – it is in fact doing better than before the pandemic and the market looks set to outperform the highs reached in 2018. The used yacht market is doing particularly well, as buyers look for yachts which they can take out to sea as soon as possible. The amount of yachts being newly listed however does not seem to be keeping up with sales, so the market appears to be tightening, a complaint we are currently hearing from brokers. The move of the market towards a sellers’ market can also be seen in the decrease of the size of the average price reductions to listed used yachts.

Raphael Sauleau, CEO of Fraser, added that they are seeing the same patterns on the ground; “Fraser is experiencing the best year out of the last 13 for the number of yachts sold and the total last asking price, as well as average LOA. We are also selling yachts faster than ever, 60% faster than the market average, with one yacht in 2021 sold in just 26 days. From the data, one thing is clear: the unparalleled joys and tangible benefits of yachting are being discovered and enjoyed by more of us than ever – in many cases for the first time, as evidenced by the increase in the entry-level 24-40 metre sector. It is a joy to see.”

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