Last year’s report indicated that we expected 2017 to perform – but the 12 months simply tore by! A bumper year for the motor yacht team, with just shy of 50 completions over the calendar year and a hugely diverse spread of craft under the hammer. At no time did the pressure let up with completions running right up to the Christmas period. Our weather provided sunny periods for some and on occasion, as ever, was also not so much to write home about, but many purchases were by UK buyers for UK waters (continuing a trend from 2016) – safeguarding future stock levels for the brokerage market, supporting the local marine service economy and maintaining occupancy in UK marinas. All superpositive against a backdrop of sweeping global political changes, market volatility and general disquiet!
Down in the Mediterranean over the last year we transacted a one-off custom 18m boat by Little Harbor in Italy, a fantastic Aquastar in Mallorca, and sports-boats in Portugal, France and Spain. In the hotspot of Palma, berths are at a premium and scarce, especially in the pinch point 12-18 metre sector, with recent concession changes muddying the crystal waters. Local contacts, timing and luck are working so far, but this could be a major obstacle in placing yachts for sale the future.
The spectre of lower numbers of yachts coming to the market is still hanging over brokerage houses, and timing is all. Several of 2017’s sales happened through a combination of the right yacht being in the right place, at the right time – and not necessarily on the open market, but with cheap flights and easy connections, we are listing more yachts in Italy, Greece, mainland Spain and the Balearics as is distance selling becomes ever more prevalent, we have upped the game in terms of presenting each listing. So, we now travel with camera, tripod, stabilised videocam, batteries, and the phone apps to run the cameras – along with the trusty notepad and pen; setting up the camera in each cabin to take a panoramic shot (making sure all the tea towels are put back exactly as found in the galley…), whilst ducking out of shot to take down a detailed list of the inventory, engine and generator hours, does take a bit of practice – but the results are well worth the effort. We are blessed in having a superb marketing department behind us back in Lymington to stitch together the panoramas and edit our voice-overs to the videos. The more information that we can splice into these few minutes of video, the better, as this translates into a far more engaging experience for the prospective purchaser. We can also monitor far more closely the impact of online marketing to the market, measure the visibility of our listings, and have indeed rebuilt our brokerage website to improve the ease of search and display of yacht photos, panoramic tours and videos.
Types of motor yacht have remained consistently “Berthon” – with classic models from Fairey, and their attendant modern counterparts from Swordsman Marine, being snapped up for summer fun. There is a palpable movement of builders harking back to the basics of sweet lines, gunny hulls and open cockpit driving (engaging with the elements, without the need for crew and getting back to easy, simple yacht ownership). Tying neatly to this, the DNA of the Scandinavian Windy brand has kept residual values high and sales very healthy, with the family-oriented 37 and lithe 28 standing out in terms of demand eclipsing supply. 3 Windys departed from the UK back to their native fjords (assisted by the weakness of Sterling against the Krone currencies), equalled out by a trio returning to Lymington from a sunny life in the Mediterranean. The portability and versatility of the range will maintain longer ownership spans, preserve residuals values and continue to attract new blood to this market-leading builder.
Speaking of residuals values, 2017 has evidenced a flattening of the depreciation curve, in some sectors, with individual condition dictating what a buyer will pay for the right yacht. Several of the sales have been Windy owners trading up through the range, to spend more time on board, extend their range and continue to support the brand, others just the opposite as families disperse.
At the bigger, heavier end of the motor spectrum we attracted the listings of some beautifully-presented fast semi displacement yachts by those wizards at Royal Huisman and Grand Banks. Having also completed many sales on true blue motor yachts from the likes of Aquastar, Seaward and Dale Nelson, we have a clear understanding of the value of having a proper underwater hull configuration in a bit of weather. These yachts are timeless, with the Huisman now undergoing a freshen-up in the big blue Berthon sheds prior to a summer cruise in warmer climes under her new ownership.
Having the Berthon skilled shipwrights, mechanics and electricians all on site, and with the project management under one roof, Owners can discuss and implement improvements from a general service to full paintworks, varnishing and electrical refits – and this is invaluable in a brokerage situation where technology is improving apace and the new Owner may not share quite the same taste as the past custodian. Marina berths at our UK base are always available at the drop of a hat and encouragingly, as I write, the sheds are full, half with 7 motor-yachts being worked on, of which 5 are via Sales from 28’ to 65’ – and this is where the nuts and bolts of our company’s ability can be seen. Such high profile refits provide fascinating footage available through our blogs at http://www.berthon.co.uk/berthon-blog/ – please do check it out. Especially if you like big, fast triple-engined motor gun-boats!
So in closing – all the best for your season – however you yacht. Do please drop by our wonderful historic Lymington location or pick up the phone for a chat, and we hope to continue to provide a good service to you – selling, buying or simply just enjoying your yachting.