True Value: Estimating Your Yacht's Worth

Trying to put the right price on a boat? Whether you're selling or buying, a broker can help.


Upgrading, downsizing, making a change, striking while the iron's hot-the adverse economic conditions of our times bring out our best euphemisms, even as our will is tested. But, if you are a boat owner looking to make a change-and from the brokers I've spoken to, it would seem many people are these days-the deals are out there. Any believer in the free market will tell you: Good boats have real value right now.

But how do you know what your boat is worth? The fact of the matter is that whatever you thought it was worth a year ago, six months ago, a month ago, heck, last week-that's all out the window.

"It's a volatile market right now," says Don Gilman, vice president of Gilman Yachts. "We're seeing prices fluctuate all over the board, some of them down to fifty percent of what they had normally been trading at, based on different owner situations and boat situations, too."

To find the real value, you have to do what the brokers do. Tune into the market. Watch the prices bob up and down. Follow the trends as they twist and turn in the financial short, become an expert. Or better yet, if you're serious: Have a broker do it for you.

"We look up some previous sale prices from our MLS system and our database and try to establish a trend in the pricing," says Lon McCloskey, president of the Marine Group of Palm Beach. "We then compare to what is currently available on the market with similar equipment, condition and hours. We call around to agents with a like vessel that is currently on the market for their feedback as well." Basically brokers bring to bear the power of their entire network of connections in the marketplace.

And what does that market look for? In a down market, quality moves. Unique boats, yachts with well-thought-out interiors, boats that stand apart in the market-these are the ones that sell. A seller may be thinking I've got $50,000 worth of electronics on my boat, that's got to be worth something.

"It's always nice to have state-of-theart electronics and LED lighting and LCD TVs," says Gilman. "But it's nothing that you can't go out and do for a certain amount of money. As fast as you can put in new electronics, tomorrow there will be better electronics."

"When it comes to doing an ad we like to emphasize what's exceptional about this boat, the fact that it has four staterooms plus a crew, or that it will accommodate an extended family, that there's something special about it," says Gilman. "Or there's something special about the purchase situation." If the seller is in a situation where he needs to move the merchandise, needless to say, that enters the equation in a big way. But a broker will manage that, too.

"We coordinate and discuss with the seller, then we bring the listing to the market with the seller's price and reevaluate after 45 days," says McCloskey. "If there is little to no interest, we suggest to the seller to lower the offered price."

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