How to work with a yacht broker

If you’re ready to sell your boat or yacht, a key decision you’ll need to make is whether to sell it yourself or through a yacht broker. If you sell the boat yourself, you won’t need to pay a broker’s commission, but without help from a pro, it will often take you longer to sell the boat and you may have to settle for a lower price. Generally, sellers work with brokers more often when the boats are newer, larger, and/or more expensive, but there are many other reasons to list boats of all sizes and conditions with a broker.

Why use a yacht broker?

Selling a boat is similar to a real estate transaction—it’s usually too complex and involves too much value to risk doing it on your own. Yacht brokers work hard to facilitate the sale of their listings and to protect and promote the interest of their clients, just as a real estate agent will do when you sell your house.

Some countries (and US states like California and Florida) require licensing of their yacht sales professionals. Most brokers in the US and Canada prefer to sign a “Central Agency Listing” with the owner/seller, which is similar to a multiple listing in real estate transactions. Essentially, this means your broker will manage all of the communications and information flow about the listing between you, other brokers, and potential buyers.

Finding the right yacht broker is essential in the successful sale of your boat.
Finding the right yacht broker is an essential part of the successful sale of your boat.

Along with the most obvious job of managing the communication and information flow, working with a broker provides a number of significant advantages. Brokers have a network of clients and may have a number of buyers in mind right from the start. They know the market well, especially in their specialized segment of it, and they have a solid understanding of how to properly price a boat or yacht.

What will it cost to use a yacht broker?

Yacht brokers charge a commission when the vessel is sold, and the commission amount will be set in writing when the seller signs a listing agreement with the broker. If another broker brings a buyer to the table through a co-brokerage arrangement, the total commission will normally be shared between the brokers; it should not raise the commission. Many brokers work co-operatively with one another on a co-brokerage basis.

How do you find the right broker?

Choosing the right broker is an important step in selling your boat. Brokers often specialize in boat types, sizes, and geographic regions, so it’s usually best to choose a broker who already represents boats similar to yours, and who operates his or her business close to where your boat is located. Here are some ways to make sure you find the right broker to sell your boat:

  • Interview several by phone, email, and in person
  • View the presentation of their other listings, and ask yourself: do those listings look like something I would be proud to show to potential buyers?
  • Contact the broker. Do they respond to emails and phone calls quickly?
What will a broker do for the seller?

Yacht brokers can make a sale go more smoothly right from the very beginning of the process. Here are some of the ways a broker will help you sell your boat:

  • Determine a fair asking price – To ensure a timely sale, it is essential to ask a fair price. A broker can help establish fair-market value for the boat through access to actual sold boat data in is not available to the public.
  • Prepare an advertising strategy – The broker will outline a plan of how a boat is to be advertised in the most appropriate media. For example, the best means to promote a 27′ Catalina is vastly different than the strategy for a 63′ Sunseeker. The broker’s objective is to devise a strategy that has the best chance of reaching the most interested and qualified audience for your boat.
  • Prepare the listing – The broker will prepare the listing for distribution to clients and other brokers. Your broker may also prepare the listing for co-brokerage using the private BoatWizard MLS. YachtWorld has over 2000 member brokerage firms, with 3000 offices and 5,000 individual yacht brokers and salespeople, all of who have password access to this MLS system.
  • Prepare the boat – The broker will advise you of any improvements that should be made to make your boat competitive in today’s market, identify possible problems and solutions, and help organize upgrades and repairs. The broker may help locate easy-access moorings or storage for the duration of the listing.
  • Provide professional know-how – Professional brokers will understand the principals of the brokerage profession—things like certificates of ownership, security agreements, bills of sale, and other documents needed to register and transfer titles to boats. They will understand maritime and admiralty liens for the type of vessels they represent, as well as mortgaging and transferring title to documented vessels. They will understand agency contracts, listing agreements, closing statements, deposit requirements, and escrowed accounts to safeguard funds.
  • Assist with the sea trial and survey – The buyer will usually request a sea trial and the services of a marine surveyor. Buyers pay for the surveys and for hauling the boat out of the water for inspection. Your yacht broker will usually attend the sea trial and marine survey and help you determine how any discovered deficiencies should be addressed in the purchase negotiations. For more about surveys, read 10 Things You Need to Know About a Marine Survey.
  • Employ the art of negotiation – The broker can use his position as a middleman to keep the negotiating between buyer and seller moving toward a successful conclusion.

Yacht brokers bring a lot to the sales process, which is why we recommend using one to sell your boat. For more information about brokers, read these articles:

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