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Fall Boat Shows: Break-Out Brokerage Season

We spoke to three major players on the yacht brokerage scene and discovered that there’s plenty going on in the market now and into the fall. Here’s what they have to say about the upcoming fall boat-show season.

Steve Moynihan, founder and president, HMY

Steve Moynihan, founder and president, HMY

“The market is very active and has continued to be active even through the traditionally slower months of the summer. It has been very very good. Our particular segment of the market has been predominantly confined to the US with a smattering of international sales here recently. In our particular instance, it’s a combination of continued pent-up demand and the continuing success in people’s individual businesses and the stock market, and it just has carried over from the spring right through this summer. We are already making space reservations for customers to exhibit their existing preowned product in anticipation of them purchasing something else. And we are filling up our boat-show slips right now. We’re 60 days ahead of where we were last year as far as people calling us and without any push from us, people are calling us saying I want to make sure my boat is in that show.

I would tell you that by and large a lot of product has been sold and that we are working doubly hard to list fresh product going into the fall season after people have used the boat for the summer. But we’re way ahead of last year in units or yachts sold but we’re anticipating good participation and a fresh inventory of brokerage boats after people get finished using them in the summer season.

I always encourage people to be ready to make a decision because there are going to be buying opportunities, and if you have your financing or your funds lined up in advance, it’s always a step ahead. There will be buying opportunities and the more prepared you are to act quickly the better your chances are of getting the boat you want.”

Jon Burkard, president, Allied Marine Brokerage

Jon Burkard, president, Allied Marine Brokerage

It’s interesting we’re on schedule to grow probably a little more than 30 percent for the year, year over year, and last year was another decent growth year. It wasn’t quite that high but we enjoyed some growth, so I think that’s pretty good. We’ve kind of changed what we’re doing: We’re upping our average transaction value to try to more or less align more with what we sell in new boats, as well. We want to be the leaders in the industry in the 60- to 150-foot range. It’s fine to be below that size range when we have to and it’s fine to be above it when we need to, but our efforts are being focused on that, and that’s where we’re seeing the most growth in the industry.

We’re adding some additional space at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show for Allied Marine which is great. I think we continue to see some motoryacht growth, probably more so than sportfish, but the sportfish has been coming back alive to some degree as well. Not quite as certainly as the motoryacht segment but it’s still waking up, which is good.

I think inventories are shrinking a little bit. I think it’s causing prices to rise a little bit, which is good. We’ve been about bouncing off the bottom as far as numbers are concerned and stuff. I think the more popular boats have enjoyed that more so than say specialty boats or models that may not have been quite as popular back in their day in regards to brokerage.

I still think you know it’s a good time to buy just because I think there’s an incredible amount of value in all these brokerage boats, they’ve risen some but they’re not nearly as close as they need to be in terms of historical valuation and it’s still pretty… the market’s not where it used to be, and buying a preowned boat is still an incredible value in my opinion. I don’t know how much longer it will last, but as the economy continues to improve I think that’s going to change as we go forward. We’re seeing some it, but we’re not in a full recovery only because I don’t think the boat-buying public has mentally adjusted to anything that used to be just normal. But they’re getting there. It’s just because it has to be. I think demand will outstrip supply. It’s coming—we’re seeing it.

We’ve booked more show space, because we know we need it. We ended up turning away quite a few people at the Miami show who wanted space at our display. And it was kind of a bummer to have to—we didn’t have enough space—even though it’s our largest display in terms of number of slips is the Miami show, but we still had to turn away probably at least half a dozen boats that wanted in, so I would tell sellers that they need to start planning what they’re doing now. We’ve already got a number of our spaces spoken for and deposited and I see the trend continuing. And I know that sounds a little contradictory to what I’m saying about supply dropping some.

I think the bigger, better houses are investing in their businesses, so they’re probably growing more than the average industry trend might reflect, but I’ve seen some stuff around saying that the industry seems good too. We’ve been on a mission: We’ve opened how many new facilities in the last six months? We’ve got Miami Beach, Bahia Mar [in Ft. Lauderdale], Huntington, New York, and we’ve got Newport Beach, California, and we’ve opened Mexico City, so that’s five new offices since January. That’s some bullishness.

Bob Denison, president, Denison Yacht Sales

Bob Denison, president, Denison Yacht Sales

The brokerage market has been pretty solid most of the summer. Our office in Ft. Lauderdale has been a tiny bit slower than the spring season, but the team up in our New York office has been absolutely slammed. Same goes for our office in Seattle.

We’ve been seeing an uptick in brokerage sportfish, and surprisingly catamarans. Our used catamaran sales have actually doubled this Summer, over our 2013 numbers.

Planning for the fall boat-show season really starts about a few weeks after the Palm Beach Show. Sometimes I feel like we’re painting the Golden Gate Bridge, as soon as you’re done with one side, you start on the other, and that glorious loop never seems to end. If you include all of our offices, we’re actually exhibiting in 12 fall boat shows. The amount of coordination, and planning on the marketing side is pretty intense. Luckily, and I really mean this, we have an amazing marketing and events team that helps support this effort. Without them we would have zero boats in any of these shows, and I’d likely have to resort to passing out orange Denison koozies in the parking lot.

The boat shows you’ll find the Denison Crew this fall include, Newport, Rhode Island; Newport Beach, California; Annapolis; Norwalk; Cannes; Monaco; and of course FLIBS. We’ll have a mix of used and new boats at these shows.

A few notable introductions include the MC4 by Beneteau, the MCY86 by Monte Carlo Yachts, and the Fountaine Pajot 47 Power Cat. We’ll also be introducing a new line of Pirelli Yacht tenders, and a few really cool products from Contender in the Convention Center.

On the brokerage side, we’ll be exhibiting two superyachts for the first time at the Cannes Show, TJ Esperanza a 50-meter Amels motoryacht, along with one of the nicest sailing yachts ever built, the incomparable Inmocean a 135-foot Fitzroy.

At Ft. Lauderdale we’ll have a mix of 35 new and brokerage boats, including several sportifsh, motoryachts, tenders, express boats, and trawlers. We’ll also have a few superyachts, including a yacht my father built, News. She’s a 121-foot aluminum motoryacht in amazing condition, ready for sale and/or charter. She was built right here in Ft. Lauderdale at Denison Marine, back when people actually still built big boats here. She’s one of my all-time favorites and will represent an amazing value for someone.

I would advise anyone seriously shopping at a fall boat show, four bits of advice. First, find the right broker. Make sure they know the yacht they’re selling. If you’re looking for a trawler, make sure they eat and breathe trawlers. If you’re looking for a superyacht, make sure you find a broker that has big-boat experience. Too many brokers try to sell whatever boat you’re in the market for, not necessarily the type of boat they specialize in. Ask lots of questions. Its also important to make sure that your broker is licensed and bonded, and is a member of a well-respected association, like the FYBA. I would also recommend working with a broker you personally like. If you find the right broker, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time with them. Make sure you’re spending your time with someone you actually want to have over for dinner.

Second, treat FLIBS like visiting The Louvre. Take your time. Don’t rush any part of your weekend. Plan on visiting as many boats as possible. Take a ton of pictures. Don’t let anyone hurry you off a boat. The show is about you. If you meet a broker that tries to hurry you or pressure you, find someone else to work with.

Third, if you’re seriously looking to buy, bring your checkbook. An offer with a check in hand always weighs more than an offer with a “check in the mail.”

And last, if you’re coming into town for the show, try get a hotel close to the docks and avoid the traffic. Explore the city, walk Las Olas and make the entire experience a fun one. Ft. Lauderdale is a great town that’s become a great place of culture. Lots of great independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, galleries, and hotels. Take the water taxi, charter a boat for a cruise down the New River. As a local kid, I’m a little biased, but I really believe Ft. lauderdale to be the best boating town in the world.