Buying a yacht can be a daunting prospect for first-timers, so it’s crucial to work with an experienced broker for guidance. Someone who has helped many take the leap and join the world of yachting is Will Christie, a superyacht specialist who has enjoyed a lifetime of yachting and 20 years in the industry as a broker. As the founder of the independent firm Christie Yachts, he and his team endeavour to help first-time buyers succeed in finding the perfect yacht to match their exact needs and budget.
With yacht show season approaching, Christie has some advice for first-time buyers on how to select and work with a broker to maximise chances of finding the perfect yacht.
Do they really understand your lifestyle?
Christie explains that during initial meetings, a broker should take the time to get to know the client and what you are looking to get out of the ownership experience. “A first-time buyer may have a vision of their ideal yacht, but it very often won’t lead to achieving their end goal. Sometimes it’s better if you start with the end goal and work backwards to finding the right yacht for delivering that experience,” he explains. “I never take yacht brochures to a first meeting. I am there to listen and learn about the client, their family and what they enjoy doing, so that I can advise them properly.” The more a broker can learn about the client in these early stages, the more likely that they will match them with a yacht that will serve them happily for many years.
“I once had a client with a young family who wanted to buy a particular GRP (fibreglass) sports yacht,” Christie recalls, “and I could understand why – the yacht looked great and had a very attractive and sleek design. However, after learning that the client wanted to explore the Mediterranean I questioned them as to why they wouldn’t consider cruising further afield as they are so many interesting places to explore with a yacht. Indeed, places that only a yacht can reach. They really started to buy into this. It became clear to me that this family would have so much more fun with a yacht with true world cruising capabilities.”
The sports yacht in question would have been restricted to port in anything more than mild sea conditions and any long-distance repositioning of the boat would require ship transport. Christie ended up finding them a trawler-style explorer yacht which they have now owned for over 10 years, cruising to all corners of the world. “Their yacht could not be further from what they wanted initially. It is very important to have a broker who has the credibility and experience to both question and advise a client so that they will truly enjoy what they buy,” he adds.
Are they prepared to showcase their experience?
With experience comes knowledge – and according to Christie, a good broker should have both. “Don’t be afraid to ask the broker about their experience, and I mean the individual you will be working with, not the company,” he explains. “How many deals have they done, and have they ever been involved in the construction of yachts, because this increases a broker’s knowledgebase markedly,” he suggests. “And perhaps they have some clients who would be willing to speak to you directly and share their experience of working with them.” Evidence of a good track record should make it easier to compare and select a broker. “Clients should always know what they are getting themselves into and do their due diligence as they would for any large financial transaction in their day-to-day business; yachting is no different,” Christie continues.
A good broker should also be able to see beyond the polished marketing material provided for a yacht and share information about the build quality, historical and future maintenance, and current and future market value. “Everything the client receives should be clear, concise and accurate so that they can make a properly informed decision,” he explains.
No trust? No go
Mutual trust is so important for the broker-client relationship. For some first-time buyers, searching for a yacht through a few different brokers could be their preferred process, however Christie advises against this. “By all means, speak to and meet a few brokers, but I would then advise working with and being represented by one. You need to invest in a broker so they understand your requirements clearly. A huge benefit to the client of mutual trust is that brokers often know confidential, off-market opportunities. This information is very valuable and they will be reluctant to share it if the client is discussing options with other brokers. By working with and being loyal to one broker, a client is more likely to learn about these deals and take advantage of them because the broker trusts them – it goes both ways,” he explains.
It is also important to consider whether the broker is someone you would be happy spending a lot of time with. “Finding the perfect yacht for a client can be a long process and shouldn’t be rushed. The whole process of purchasing a yacht should be fun, so you want to work with someone who you enjoy spending time with on this journey.”
Are they in it for the long run?
“For a first-time buyer, it is important to have someone on your side who has your best interests at heart and isn’t only interested in a quick sale,” Christie continues. This is a relationship-based business and very often the first purchase is only the start of the journey. “I have one client who I have now represented in five different transactions. Not only have I learned a lot about what he likes over the course of our long-standing relationship, but we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.”
“I will always recommend that my clients go for a quality product above all else so that their first taste of yacht ownership is the very best it can be,” Christie continues. “I always say to my clients that it doesn't matter what asset you buy in life, just make sure it is a high-quality, pedigree product that will have wide market appeal when you choose to move on. The day when a client wants to sell is inevitable, so purchasing a boat that will maintain its value is essential. There is always someone who will buy quality.”
To find out more about how Christie Yachts can help you get into the market, contact the firm directly here.
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