By Jason Y. Wood
Boat buying has become a truly international sport over the last few years, and the foibles of the world financial markets have made for a pitching and rolling playing field. One month may see Australians dropping dollars on merchandise in marinas Southern California and South Florida, while the next may put Koreans in a buying mood, only to be followed by a South American spending spree. Globalization has finally ended the last of the real-estate analogies for boat buyers. Location, location, location is dead, dead, dead.
Not only are buyers willing to ship a boat overseas, but foreign markets may be more appealing as the balance of the respective currencies changes. In Europe, the countries (and markets) are relatively close together. As the euro declines, the British pound doesn’t necessarily decline. The result? Pound owners happily do their boat shopping across the English Channel because they have more buying power. Of course, the flipside of that realm’s coin is that the number of potential buyers begins to erode for the seller living with the stronger currency.
People are aware that the currency market is fluctuating quite significantly,” says Richard Lambert, managing director of OceanStyle, a London-based yacht brokerage and services firm. “Therefore they try to close the transaction in a relatively short time frame to ensure that they’re not taking any further risk of exposure to the currency.”
As buying power shifts, whether temporarily or over the longer term, the market will change to meet it, and the types of boats seeing increased demand will depend on who’s got the money and who’s buying. “Looking further east to Southeast Asia and the Chinese market that hasn’t taken off yet, but the message is that the Chinese are coming,” Lambert says. “From a boating aspect they’ve got the wealth, it’s just the case that they haven’t yet caught on quite to the idea of boating. The use of those boats is very different and they’re not that interested in staying onboard for long, it’s generally more used for socializing and entertaining.” Smart boatbuilders are making sure to get their brand foothold established in these potential markets early.
Boat buyers from all nations share one common trait: The desire to buy a boat. So while the economic situation is having a temporary impact on the direction the inventory is flowing, it won’t last forever. Smart buyers understand that markets are moved by opinions and emotions. They know if they stay positive, that optimism can move markets.