Another busy year followed 2021, with the market remaining brisk and yachts finding new owners in prompt fashion. The trend set post pandemic continued with families wanting to upgrade to larger cruising yachts for more local use, so yacht upgrades were still driving the market, with sales to pragmatic, decisive buyers in the main. The usual quality marques were in demand; Sweden Yacht, Hallberg-Rassy, Southerly, Discovery, Solaris, Oyster and Swan to name but a few.
Were there fewer listings? We felt that the quantity of listings were more limited due to supply and demand, and we definitely saw buyers with fairly specific briefs struggling to find the right yacht, and the VAT implications of bringing a yacht back from Europe certainly affected the UK market. This had a positive effect for vendors with desirable yachts on the market. The general trend from 2021 continued providing a healthy market in 2022. Of course, VAT continues to divide the UK and EU brokerage markets, and this will continue.
High quality yachts continued to be hot. It may seem an obvious comment, but more than ever last year an obviously well maintained and updated yacht was snapped up without quibble.
Towards the end of the summer, we saw a spike in listings, just as the market was throttling back a little, leaving some vendors with slightly ambitious price expectations as they came late to the yacht selling party.
In the past (pre-pandemic) very recently built yachts coming to the market struggled on price as buyers deducted VAT, extras and depreciation. It was the expectation of the market being that there should be a clear gap between the brokerage price and new build price. Of course, the vendor was painfully aware of what they had just shelled out, so their expectation was equally high. Getting the two to meet was often a challenge. This has been turned on its head in the last 12 to 18 months. The combination of long lead times and the increased prices of new build have made recent build yachts (2 to 3 years old) a desirable commodity achieving far better residual prices than pre-Covid.
The day job remains the same: listing yachts, evaluating, preparing sales particulars and specifications, follow up and conducting sales, but it would appear being a knowledgeable and charismatic video presenter is increasingly part of the job. A range of styles have developed within the office and as you would expect some of us are happier in the front of the camera than others. I’ll leave you to score us!
On a more serious note, a well shot informative walkthrough video is a valuable resource in providing an overview of a yacht, her specification and a snap shot of her current condition. Given that we now research everything in front of a screen, video production has become a vital tool. We place great importance on this and have therefore invested in the skills (Harry!) and equipment required.
If asked for the most important trend in the sailing market, I would definitely say that it was the advance in performance of cruising yachts across the board. If I look back over the last twenty years in the cruising market, its really interesting to see the quantum changes. Gone are raked bows, long overhangs and 130% genoas, whilst dreadnought bows, wide beam and easily managed powerful rigs (ideally carbon) are definitely in. Taking Solaris as an example (ok I have to declare my bias), new yachts now have increased volume, beam and waterline length but not at the expense of performance, stability or sea kindliness; quite the contrary. The market now has an expectation of increased performance that is easily managed (this is a cruising yacht after all), tumbling passage times, and this above a high end apartment below decks. Not least, she’s got to be drop dead gorgeous too!
Footnote by Harry Lightfoot
Having started at Berthon in January 2022, the last year has been especially busy for me and has certainly gone very quickly. From day one I had to hit the ground running, learning how Berthon operates while introducing myself to new and old clients alike. Having joined towards the end of Covid, I continued to see a buoyant market and this was evident once spring arrived, with a long list of yachts being sold, often quickly, and at around the asking price, showing correct pricing.
Demand at our Lymington HQ was mainly for family cruising yachts, with many clients wanting to stay beneath the 50-foot barrier. VAT and Brexit has been a hot topic of conversation over the last year. Clients start the conversation asking whether VAT was paid in the UK, EU or both. Pre-Brexit it was easy for UK clients to buy in Europe but since then, it has severely limited the market here in the UK with some brands of yachts becoming harder to find and this will continue in 2023.
Two brands I know very well, Discovery and Southerly Yachts, continue to be popular on the brokerage market, with a particularly high demand for Southerly. Having dealt with these lifting keel yachts for several years, 2022 for me has been the busiest for this brand. When any size came to market they would normally be under offer within days and always at great prices.
Further afield, demand for bigger yachts continues to grow. With an end of worldwide Covid restrictions in spring and early summer, a number of larger yachts sold, including Discovery Yachts as more and more far-away cruising ground destinations re-opened. It has been great for me to be continuing to be in touch with Discovery owners, to hear their current plans and to introduce myself as their point of contact at Berthon. For new owners wanting an easy set-up for long distance sailing, this brand makes perfect sense and it has been great to follow our newly sold Discoverys on their Bluewater adventures.
My day-to-day role at Berthon is somewhat different to my Discovery days, and I am now dealing with a variety of different sailing yachts, local and international, which has certainly been fascinating and I learn something new every day. I have understood the importance of marketing and how Berthon work from the start with detailed listing particulars, personalised owners’ comments and professional photographs and videos. Social media is now at the forefront of our marketing and 2023 will be a big year for our social pages, so do give us a follow, some likes and look out for those #hashtags!