How the market for second hand boats works
Sell your boat quickly and for a good price
In terms of numbers of boats sold, the second-hand boat market has been stable since the turn of the century and has hardly been affected by economic developments. Demand prices, on the other hand, have fluctuated sharply. The Netherlands has 200,000 to 250,000 boats with a value of more than 2,000 euros, of which 10% are for sale at some point, although not always on the Internet. A small share is sold from private to private, but 75 to 85% goes via the professional thinks YachtFocus. Especially when the value is a bit higher, help is called in. This article is about influences on the boat market and external factors that partly determine the value of your boat.
Falling boat prices: buyers market
Until 2006, the prices of larger, used boats rose a little every year. A 20-year-old boat could yield as much or even more than it would have cost new at the time. During the economic crisis from 2008 to 2013, second-hand boats fell significantly in value by an average of even 40%, at least in The Netherlands but perhaps less in other countries. It was a so-called ‘buyer’s market’; many people had to get rid of their boat and the few buyers at that time had to choose and could bid low.
Dutch buyers in particular kept aloof, which was only partly compensated by an influx of bargain hunters from surrounding countries where the crisis hit less hard. The sudden price cuts were painful for those who speculated on the increase in value everybody could count on before. But hopefully that suffering has been absorbed by now. Nor does it say anything about the expected increase in value if you buy new products now.
Stable or slightly rising boat prices: seller’s market
In 2013, the market bottomed out and second-hand boat prices have stabilized since then. This with the exception of mainly smaller, less comfortable cabin boats with outdated design and overdue or time-consuming maintenance, which remain difficult to trade.
Since 2018 the asking price even shows an upward trend for young (from after 2008), well-maintained and yard-built used boats. These are now simply becoming scarce in Holland. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that fewer boats have been produced since the outbreak of the crisis. The numbers delivered are now increasing slightly and even more every year, but no one in the boat industry expects that it will ever be as exuberant as it was before 2008. On the other hand, scarcity is caused by foreign buyers coming to Holland with a preference for the better quality and therefore younger years of construction. They are still grazing the Dutch market in large numbers. Meanwhile, the Dutch buyer is also back in the market now that the economy is going well.
It has become a ‘seller’s market’ in which the enthusiast has to react quickly when a young model of his favorite model comes on the market.
Boat age and value
It is clear that there is a dividing line between boats and yachts that were delivered before the crisis and supply that has been in operation since 2008. Yacht builders in the middle segment (10 to 24 meters) are now doing well, especially those yards that are innovating in terms of materials, technology and design. However, fewer boats continue to be built than before the crisis because young people are saving less and borrowing has become more difficult. This is causing scarcity of yachts from recent years where the head is off, the most sought-after category in the second-hand market. Prices are stable or rising slightly. Anyone buying a new build yacht from a shipyard that advertises on YachtFocus.com will experience only minor depreciation.
Boats from before 2008, on the other hand, are plentiful and affordable. Boat asking prices in Holland have fallen 40% during the crisis and that loss of value has never been reversed. The price drop was greater in the case of time-based design, poor maintenance, maintenance-sensitive building materials and low comfort.
Well-maintained, larger, older boats of quality brands are now proving very stable in value. The decline is notable for luxury, larger yachts made of polyester or well-preserved steel, regardless of age. There is even a small revival in beautiful, classic hull shapes that are worth refitting.
Anyway, a boat should always be seen as an investment in the pleasure of sailing and owning, not as an investment. Every year you have to write something off its value.
The size of the boats on offer
There are no more used boats for sale than before. On the contrary, because for years about 30% to 40% of the offerings in Holland were sold abroad. Some Dutch yacht brokers sell so well that they find it difficult to keep their sales portfolio on track.
Meanwhile, the marinas are still full of boats from owners who sail less and less and who have passed the age of 60. Even on beautiful days, marinas are full of ‘dead’ capital. You may assume that these boats will be on the market within the foreseeable future. There are tens of thousands of yachts in the middle and higher price segment that will have to find their way to the buyer in the coming decade. The market will not dry up.
Changing demand for boats
These are the trends, bearing in mind that there are always exceptions. For every boat is a buyer, they say in the yacht brokerage.
- In the first place, buyers want to do fewer maintenance work and get off shore without any problems. Maintenance-free is the new standard.
- Secondly, design has become more important; people like to show good taste and peculiar, time-bound boats are less desirable. There is a revival of elegant, retro design. Sleek, modern design with light boat materials (both in colour and weight) is also popular.
- The third tendency is that enthusiasts stay more at berth than go sailing, so comfort has become important; hardly anyone wants ‘camping on board’, but rather the convenience of home with long beds, heating, a fully-fledged galley and comfortable seating inside and out.
- The fourth, related tendency is to sail shorter. Boats for day recreation such as sloops, tenders, RIBs and daysailers are popular and in great demand.
If your boat satisfies as many of the above modes as possible, this naturally contributes to the popularity on the market.
What really keeps the demand going in Holland are buyers from abroad and especially countries with little own boat supply and where the economy is booming and water sports are growing. These foreigners – aided by the Internet, the European single currency and uniform regulations – are more than happy to buy their boat in the Netherlands. Dutch boats are in demand because of the drop in prices, our reputation for good maintenance and our use on fresh water and winter storage ashore. It is no longer just Germans, but also, for example, French, Poles, Australians and Russians who have discovered this country. Dutch boats are cheaper and well maintained and that attracts international buyers. That is why YachtFocus.com has been optimized as a website for international boat buyers.
Yacht brokers, boat brokers and boat wholesalers: how they think and act
You can sell your boat to or through a company or directly yourself to the next enthusiast. Selling your boat to a company is almost exclusively possible in exchange for the purchase of a new boat, especially if it is a new build boatyard or dealer. Some understanding that you do not get the main price from the yard is in place, despite your purchase of a new boat, because with the takeover of your boat, the yard also assumes a stock risk and warranty obligation.
There are hardly any trading companies in used boats, except perhaps for cheaper boats of a few thousand euros. The value is difficult to estimate (think of the many brands, models and models, large differences in conditions of use and unknown damage and maintenance history), with which their risk is high. In addition, boats are relatively obsolescent but do take up a large amount of capital. The trader as a company also has a guarantee obligation, in the EU at least, while his – sometimes decades old – merchandise is full of stuff that can break down.
Bypassing the guarantee, there are private buyers who resell on a personal basis via yacht brokers. Private sellers are not liable for the guarantee. Some yacht brokers can put you in touch with them if you are in a hurry to sell, but be prepared that he should have a margin and offer low.
There are plenty of brokers, i.e. yacht brokers or boat mediators, scattered over the Netherlands, no less than 500 companies from very small to large. The better yacht broker advertises on this site YachtFocus.com. The titles yacht brokerage and yacht mediator are redeemable. Previously only the broker was certified or sworn in, but for decades it has been a liberal profession. Their function is indispensable, they keep the market going. They are pre-eminently capable of advising on the actual value of your ship. They are not hindered by sentimental considerations that are also of no concern to the potential buyer. They handle viewings and safeguard you from negative comments and nonsense offers. Bids are handled professionally.
A broker’s boat is almost by definition competitively priced to increase throughput and so more interested parties come forward. Boat sellers and boat buyers benefit from the professional yacht broker as an intermediary. Especially now, with so many international buyers with their own morals and habits and with questions about, for example, the deletion of the booking, proof of ownership, VAT, inspection, export and transport, it is obvious to engage the yacht broker. They also know better how and where to advertise your boat.
Yacht brokers unburden buyers and sellers, a great advantage that only becomes apparent in practice. Even if you are convinced that you would like to sell your own boat yourself, please submit your wishes to a yacht broker in advance, without any obligation. Virtually all reputable yacht brokers advertise on YachtFocus.com and in YachtFocus Magazine, where you will find their names listed.
If you sell your own boat independently to the next owner you are equally welcome at YachtFocus. Simply place your ad in YachtFocus Magazine plus 4 months online on YachtFocus.com. The advertising amount of a few tens of Euros seems a lot, but keep in mind that our reach is unequalled and that our site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every month. Whether you sell as fast as the professional yacht broker and handle the transaction as well is not guaranteed. You will certainly reach your target group via YachtFocus.
The height of your asking price
Almost every owner tends to overestimate the value of his yacht. That’s because of the emotion: all those wonderful memories of beautiful summers. You may be shocked by the cool judgment of a yacht broker, but it certainly makes sense to ask him or her for a price recommendation with some pictures in hand.
You can also investigate for yourself. A nice guideline is to search on YachtFocus.com for similar brands and models or, failing that, boats of the same length and age. You will be left with a list. Regardless of the condition of your own boat, the advice is to set your asking price at the bottom of the range. Only then will people come to view it, only then will someone fall in love, only then will you have a chance anyone bids.
Better to ask low and then not give (too) much discount is our urgent advice.
- Asking too much means that the sales process takes a long time. Meanwhile, running costs of berth, maintenance, insurance and depreciation by.
- Plus, an unused boat deteriorates faster in condition than one that is actively used.
- The third problem is that a lower asking price at a later stage can make potential buyers who follow the boat feel that something might be wrong.
It’s better to hit the target in one go, says YachtFocus.
- If you’re thinking of selling, you’d better do so right away, because waiting doesn’t pay off.
- Supply and demand are shifting, but will probably keep each other in balance in the years to come, as long as international buyers keep wandering the market and the European economy is running well.
- Always talk to a yacht broker first.
- If you do sell yourself, do so via YachtFocus Magazine and YachtFocus.com for the best result.
- Too high an asking price makes you sit with the ship unnecessarily long.