Quick Q&A with Fraser's Josh Gulbranson

Written by Laura Nicholls

Fraser sales broker Josh Gulbranson has intimate knowledge of the marine industry. After 30 years spent initially in yacht building, maintenance and service, and continuing as a captain on private and charter yachts, he has achieved superyacht sales in the range of a billion dollars. But how does Josh keep up with consistent deal movements and ever-changing market values, regulations and client expectations? 

Josh Gulbranson

Fraser currently has over 100 CA listings. Have you noticed that the amount clients are willing to pay is increasing? 

The market this year is strong. Asking prices are strengthening but actual sale prices have moderated and balanced out. But it’s case by case, everything depends on how long the superyacht has been on the market, the owner’s desire to sell and of course, the age of the boat. There is a lengthier negotiation time for an older boat than a newer boat. 

Do you think there are enough yachts for sale at the moment? 

This fall we have seen some new inventory come onto the market, which is nice because inventory was getting low and some listings stagnant. Our sweet spot in North America is the 30-50-metre range and I see a lot of movement in this sector. There has not been an excess of high-end inventory in the last five to six years, and we have seen a lot of recycling in the market. The Northern European-built inventory in this size sector is ageing, as there are not many builders in the 30-50-metre range building high-end boats for several years. 

Grace E running

What do you think of the American new-build market? Is there an opportunity for new models to compete with European models?

Yes, there is. We have a very large yachting market under 100’ that is continuously growing and will ultimately move into larger yachts. Westport has been successful in selling boats, but they have not expanded their size range. Their clients are forced to look in other builders as they grow out of their yachts. I think if they were to expand their size range, they would find more opportunity. Delta has stayed consistent with their build frequency and size growth, but we have also lost builders such as Burger and Trinity in this larger segment. There is an opportunity for new builders to compete, but it comes down to someone taking on the challenge and the risk, and there are a lot of risks

Laurel cruising Is America the strongest market right now for clients purchasing boats over 26-metres?

Yes, and it will remain so for a few years due to the amount of high net worth growth and those interested in yachting within America. There are new emerging markets which are very wealthy, and a generation not yet familiar or accustomed to the yachting lifestyle - particularly in Asia. We have many entrepreneurs who have the ability to succeed in the American market, and as you know from the SYT iQ system, America has the highest concentration of millionaires and billionaires and a vast marketplace for smaller boats. 

You are active on social media. How do you think social media has changed the role of the broker and has it been successful for you? 

I have not been able to measure the impact of social media yet, but it's important to show clients that you are giving them as much exposure as you can. Brokers have to make the self-investment along with the brokerage firm and interact with the new generation of yacht owners. I have a client of a millennial age, and it has been a very different experience. Their ability to obtain information and work through a deal quickly is impressive. Social media keeps our market and customers fed with current information.  

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