Building Your Dream Yacht - Choosing The Right Yacht Broker

When you and your broker are unable to locate a yacht that meets your specific requirements in the pre-owned market, it’s likely you’ll look at the semi-custom offerings available from various builders, and also consider having a custom, or “one off” yacht designed and built.

Before you decide which course to follow, however, you should make sure you’re working with a yacht broker that has the right knowledge, relationships, qualifications, and experience to be of assistance in this, a major project and investment which will last several years.

Let’s look at knowledge first. Although every yacht broker that becomes involved in a new build projects has to begin with a “first” project, I don’t think you want to intentionally choose a broker to have a learning experience with your new yacht.

Working with a naval architect or yacht designer, choosing a shipyard, negotiating the building contract, hiring a project manager and overseeing all the details involved in the construction of a semi-custom or custom yacht to meet your specifications and expectations is a very complex undertaking with almost an endless series of opportunities to make both minor and major mistakes.

A broker who has participated in a new build project, or major refit project, will probably be more comfortable and effective than one who has not yet had the experience.

Because you and the broker will be working together for a long time, I think it’s important there’s a strong compatibility factor. Neither you nor the broker want to work closely for two to four years, or even longer, with someone you personally find objectionable. Even though the new build experience is complicated, ideally it’s a project that will bring you great satisfaction.

I’ve found in the numerous new build and major refit projects I’ve been involved with that my clients chose me to handle the transaction because of a relationship of mutual respect and trust we’ve established together over the years, or because a friend or associate of theirs has established a relationship and recommended me to a client that wanted to build a new yacht.

In some cases I’ve located previous yachts for them. In other cases, I’ve sold previous yachts for them, or assisted them with a new build project. In all cases the client and I have worked closely together and, obviously, developed a relationship of mutual trust, respect and effectiveness.

Although not always possible, ideally your broker should be personally acquainted with the shipyards recommended for the project. I find a personal visit offers me an opportunity to meet the key management people, evaluate the facilities and the craftsmen and provide my clients with an informed opinion about the suitability of using a particular yard for their new build project. A knowledgeable broker is able to gain a unique insight into the techniques and professionalism of the yard when a yacht is in the construction phase prior to all the finishing materials and coatings being installed and applied.

To determine whether a yacht broker has the right knowledge and experience to competently advise you in the design of a new semi-custom or “one off” vessel, following are questions I would ask:

  1. In what major refits or new design and construction projects have you participated?
  2. What was your involvement, or scope of work in the projects?
  3. May I contact the owners of several yachts to determine their satisfaction with your involvement?
  4. What yards have you worked with in the past?
  5. For the type of project I’m planning, what yards can you recommend, and why?