2017 is the most productive year for yacht brokers since the start of the global financial crisis with a total of 429 sales transactions. What are the reasons for this growth and how will the yacht brokerage market develop in the coming year? Boat International has interviewed representatives of leading companies in the industry.
Burgess: Of the new markets, Asia has the greatest potential.
«The year started very cautiously, but over time sales have started to grow, especially in the yacht segment to 50 metres, where growth was particularly strong compared to previous years," says Richard Lambert, head of sales at Burgess. - The larger yacht market has not shown as strong a result. The main reason was probably the decline in supply in this sector».
His words are based on statistics showing that the average length of yachts sold in 2017 has dropped from 35.82m to 35.43m compared to last year, even despite the high budget deal with Ulysses, a 107m yacht which Burgess and Fraser closed in October.
Reflecting on 2018, Lambert continues: The «USA remains the largest market in the world, but Burgess is actively investing in new markets, especially in Asia. The most popular yachting destinations remain the Western Mediterranean, followed by the Adriatic. The Caribbean region has been able to cope with the effects of devastating hurricanes. Asia has great undisclosed potential as a winter destination».
Fraser: Returning buyers from Russia is one of the factors for a successful year.
Raphael Sauleau, head of Fraser, agrees that the last 12 months have been highly productive for the brokerage market. «2017 was a record year in used boat sales. It's the best year since 2007," he says. - The recovery of the world economy, combined with the elections in the U.S. and Europe, gave buyers back optimism. Quotations are high and the prospect of reviewing corporate tax laws in a number of countries is fueling optimism. In addition, we see buyers from Russia returning, which has had a positive impact on the market environment as a whole».
Highlighting the successful year of 2018, Solo notes the stabilization of the economies of the client markets and the bright prospects for their development in the coming months. The U.S. leads the list of major client markets for the yachting industry, followed by the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The Western European and Latin American markets also continue to play a role, although their weight has dropped slightly. The growing popularity of extreme destinations for yachting tourism is one of the key trends in the coming months and years, according to Soloe: «This winter we are seeing an increase in demand for the Asian and Indian Pacific Ocean, as well as for exploration of remote parts of the world such as the Arctic, Northwest Passage, Antarctica, Palau and Burma».
IYC: The US has been and remains a major market.
IYC reported a 25 percent increase in sales for 2017. According to the company's Marketing Director Irini Saranti, the main reason for this success is the strength of the American market and the stability of the European market. «Europe and the U.S. will remain in focus in 2018," Saranti said. - Having a strong presence in Florida, the capital of yachting, along with offices in other states, will allow us to continue to increase our activity in the U.S.. We will also focus on Latin and Central American markets, where we see great potential».
In the charter market, the Bahamas will be the most popular destination for the winter 2017-2018, adds Saranti. «We also see higher activity in the eastern Mediterranean, where such destinations as Greece, Croatia and Montenegro»are becoming increasingly popular," she adds.
Moran Yacht & Ship: 2017 - Year of «Burning» Requests
Moran Yacht & Ship's Chris Callahan argues that the driver of sales growth in 2017, in addition to a strong economy, was a quality offer: 2017 «was a record year for us, we made some of the largest deals in the history of the company, and sales grew in absolutely all segments.
With no intention of resting on his laurels, Callahan predicts further growth in 2018 in both the charter and new boat sales segments. «We believe that America will remain a key market for the foreseeable future»," he says.
As for the main yachting destinations, just like his IYC colleague, Callahan notes the increased interest in the Bahamas this winter, including from owners of large yachts. «The biggest surprise, in my opinion, was an unprecedented number of "burning" requests. We always get a few last-minute requests, but in the past year it has felt like not a minute goes by without them».
RJC Yacht Sales: The increase in sales is due to the Trump effect.
«2017 was a record year for both brokerage sales and charter bookings," says Bob Cury of RJC Yacht Sales. - I think it's the "Trump effect," as many of our clients are happy to see a business-oriented president in the White House». Curie considers the Bob Cury to be the key event of the coming year, noting that his company has been exhibiting in Miami for 30 years and has always found this site extremely effective for presenting yachts to potential clients from both the U.S. and other countries.
Because of Hurricanes «Irma» and «Maria», several usually less popular yachting destinations have come to the fore, says Curie. «Several yachts in our charter fleet have decided to go south and settle near Antigua and the Grenadines during this Caribbean season. Now, at the end of the holidays, we are getting very positive feedback from customers who have visited these areas over the past few months»," he says.
Denison Yachting: «In 2018, we will hear about a superyacht bought for bitcoins.»
Denison Yachting President Bob Denison describes 2017 as a «compelling»year, estimating growth of 10-12% year on year. «I think it's a result of the high degree of consumer confidence that has been at its highest level in 17 years, coupled with a very healthy real estate market and the Dow Jones Index creeping up»," he says.
«2017 was also a Bitcoin year," continues Denison. - We closed a deal to sell a pretty big catamaran to a client who cashed in the bitcoins, and now we're closing a charter deal in the Mediterranean for a client from America using cryptographic currency. Regardless of rate fluctuations, I think progress will continue. I think that in 2018 we will have big news about buying a superyacht for bitcoins».
As for charter destinations, Denison predicts the growth of the U.S. west coast, particularly in the Northwest Pacific. «Alaska is where we get more and more charter requests. In addition, we believe that the Bahamas will become popular this year as long as the Virgin Islands continue to recover from hurricanes».