This Market Insight article was written for SuperYacht Times by TWW Broker James Hall.
As 2020 began, I was excitedly looking forward to the new challenges brought about by my decision to work on the other side of the fence as a yacht broker. Up until then, I’d spent the majority of my career working for manufacturers, firstly at Sunseeker on their large yacht offerings, culminating in the position of Superyacht Sales Manager and subsequently with Princess as the Director of their M Class Yacht Division. During this time, I was directly involved in over 70 projects between 30-50 metres and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of developing and selling yachts to every corner of the globe.Photo: TWW YachtsI could see so many sales opportunities all over the world as we settled into the year. There was a good volume of stock available of all yachts of all sizes, but particularly in the 30-50 metre size range. This market had a number of good quality used yachts for sale, as well as new yachts available from various manufacturers with relatively short delivery times.In the early part of 2020, momentum was building and deals were starting to come together. And then Covid hit. It felt like the world stopped, as we drew breath and wondered what we would see in the next months. Some predicted massive crashes, others thought there might be a little movement, but none of us knew what would happen. Like many in the industry, I had personally experienced motor yacht market fluctuations in the past such as the financial crisis of 2008, however at that time other regions of the world such as Asia really picked up. 2020 was different, as the whole world was affected and I think all yacht brokers were expecting the worst. The general consensus was that the market would collapse as the economy headed into recession, and this was supported by the expectations of buyers who were unable to travel to see, inspect, buy and use yachts post purchase.
This seemed to be the case at the start of the pandemic when a limited number of very keen deals and opportunities came to light. A few sellers panicked and there were some great deals made by buyers at the time, often without viewing the yacht in person. As the weeks went on, it became clear that the market was seeing a massive change and strengthening – particularly when buyers were able to travel to view yachts and the brokerage industry had adapted to arrange good-quality virtual viewings.Photo: Marc ParisWe experienced a raft of new buyers coming into the market. These people were looking for a safe environment they could control, and the ability to travel freely with friends and family. The pandemic brought home to many who in the past had thought of buying ‘one day’ that that day was now!As the summer progressed, we saw a positive upswing in real enquiries, and the successful sale of sensibly priced yachts which continued to the year’s end. This was to such an extent that currently, at the start of 2021 there is limited stock available in both the brokerage market and in new yachts from the manufacturers. In fact, some of the production manufacturers have reduced their output of yachts over 30 metres, as new emissions rules have been introduced for keels laid after the start of 2021. This makes the limited stock of new boats coming to the market even tighter.So, what does 2021 look like? I believe that the ‘killer deal’ for the buyer will be very rare before the start of the season, however, for the seller looking to list their yacht, they will be able to maintain good value as long as their expectations are realistic. As such, now is as good as time as any to put your yacht on the market.
The article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The SuperYacht Times newspaper. To receive all future issues straight to your door, subscribe to the newspaper here.