Yacht Buying Guide

Perhaps you’re buying your first sailing yacht or you’re onto your second or third motor yacht. When looking at yachts for sale, it’s essential to do your research and consider all options before making one of the most rewarding purchases of your life. Here are several important factors to consider when purchasing a new boat.

Decide on a Yacht Type

With so many boats and manufacturers to choose from today, making the right decision can seem quite challenging. Depending on how large of a vessel you are looking for, typically your search would begin (whether it is a sailing yacht or motor yacht) with considering the following four main categories.

Do I wish to purchase:

  • A production yacht. These are vessels that are mass-built, much like cars, and are fairly readily available. You can go see built, ready to go boats right at a shipyard or dealership.
  • A semi-custom yacht. This is a larger yacht that has already been partially completed but still allows for the opportunity for an owner to have some customization.
  • A fully customized yacht. These are larger and more detailed yachts that are built to the exact design specifications the owner is looking for. These yachts usually bring together a team of marine specialist hired by the owner such as a naval architect, interior designer and the owner’s Captain that will all play an important part of the building process. Keep in mind that these fully customized yachts generally require two to three years to build.
  • Or lastly, a pre-owned yacht. A “used” yacht can be refitted to meet your tastes and needs and refitting allows you to purchase a customized yacht more quickly than building one from the ground up.

Find an Experienced Yacht Broker

The size and complexity of the yacht you are looking to purchase will dictate the team you should have assisting you. One of the best ways to search for your yacht is to hire a reputable yacht broker to guide you through the selection process.

A yacht broker is trained to help you find the perfect yacht and can assist you by providing you with online listings, hard-copy information of potential yachts that fit your criteria, as well as taking you on actual walk throughs of various yachts being offered for sale.  

Viewing Actual Yachts

One of the most straightforward ways to see a wide variety of yachts is to attend a boat show where builders and buyers can view and discuss a variety of watercraft in one place. There are several large boat shows that take place in Florida each year, which include the Miami International Boat Show held in February, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show now held in November and the Palm Beach Boat Show held in March. There are many others held throughout the U.S. and internationally. Boat shows avail you to a wide variety of manufacturers and models that will give you a sense of what is available and possible.

Shipyard tours are a good idea if you’re seeking a semi-custom or custom designed yacht. Your yacht broker can arrange shipyard tours where you can either bring your team with you or meet the naval architects, project managers and interior designers that are onsite and available via the builder. That way all key players who would be involved in the creation of your yacht, if you choose to have one made by that shipyard, can be together to collaborate with you.

Experience a Sea Trial

Once you’ve narrowed your focus to a particular yacht, you’ll want to see how it performs prior to purchasing it. Like any test drive, arranging for a sea trial allows you to get a good idea of how a yacht handles and performs, while evaluating everything from the steering to the engine. Conduct the sea trial in open water and spend at least a day on the yacht. Again, depending on the size and value of your yacht, the hiring of a certified/licensed yacht surveyor to do a full survey of the yacht is essential. Undertaking a survey will ensure you understand the full scope of the condition of the yacht if you are looking to purchase a pre-owned vessel.

Boat Financing and Insurance

Once you’ve decided on your yacht, if you wish to finance her, this is the next step: Securing favorable yacht financing. Terms can vary greatly. You could be looking for a loan with a possible interest only period and a balloon payment at the end or a fully amortizing loan over the life of the loan. It is important therefore to look into what options are available in the market. You’ll also want to secure hull and liability insurance for your yacht that ensures the occupants of the yacht, as well as the yacht itself, are protected in case of any incidents that may occur on the water. When considering yacht insurance, remember there is much more to consider than the premium price. Work with an insurance advisor that has yacht experience or access to an insurance provider’s yacht team to assist in choosing coverage options that will make you feel most at ease on the water!