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Trends and dynamics within the US brokerage market
1st March 2023
Due to its economic nuances, the United States tends to have a unique set of market forces separate from the rest of the world. With more secondhand yachts being listed for sale and new build slots hard to come by, Tommaso Bilotta and Fernando Nicholson assess the current state of the brokerage market in the context of the US economy and buyer behaviour.

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Trends and dynamics within the US brokerage market

Over the last two years, rising stock markets have enlarged the fortunes of ultra-high net worth individuals in the US and, consequently, there has been an excess of cash in the market. While the US has always been a strong market for superyacht brokerage, the last 18 to 20 months has been characterised by a lack of inventory on the secondhand market, and extremely high asking prices as a result.

According to Tommaso Bilotta, yacht sales advisor at Camper & Nicholsons, however, this dynamic is starting to shift. “We are now starting to see more yachts come onto the market, including fairly new yachts of just one or two years old, and sellers are becoming more realistic with pricing,” he observes. “This flection is a sign that markets are starting to return to normal following the buying frenzy over the last two years.”

Owners are listing their yachts for sale due to several key factors, Bilotta adds. “Some owners jumped into buying yachts during the pandemic without fully realising what yacht ownership entails. Others are seeing if they can sell their yachts at a profit, or not at a loss, and others are simply putting their yacht on the market while they look for something bigger.”

This uptick in yachts available for sale, however, isn’t necessarily translating into increased brokerage activity. “In the US, living on credit is a way of life and there are tax benefits that make credit an important part of the US economy, so most US buyers finance yacht purchases even if they have the cash available,” Bilotta explains. “Rising inflation and interest rates in the country are, therefore, causing hesitancy in the market. Potential buyers are preferring to wait and see what is going to happen in the next six to nine months.”

Due to the shortage of inventory on the secondhand market over the last couple of years, many US clients were driven to buy new build projects. While a small demographic of US clients are more comfortable buying US-built boats for patriotic or logistical reasons, there are only a handful of new build shipyards left in the country – including Westport, Delta and Christensen – and the majority tend to prefer European builders.

“US shipyards have higher prices and their yachts are more traditional than European yards, which have more appealing designs and technological innovations,” advises Fernando Nicholson, senior sales broker at Camper & Nicholsons. “On top of that, building a yacht in Europe is a cultural experience for clients who enjoy crossing the pond for good food, culture and tourism.” Taiwan-based builders Ocean Alexander and Horizon Yachts are also making headway in the US market due to their progress in terms of design, innovation and features, which follow the popular trends set by European brands.

As with many other geographical markets in the superyacht sector, the US market is seeing increasingly younger clients entering into superyacht ownership, largely thanks to the success of the tech industry in the country. This new generation of buyers desire instant gratification and modern designs featuring lots of social areas and a close connection with the water.

In terms of regional hotspots, South Florida is flourishing as a year-round yachting destination with an increasingly high concentration of wealth, not just because of the well-established yachting infrastructure and appealing climate. “Since the pandemic, there has been a significant migration of people from the Northeast region to Florida because of the minimal lockdowns and tax savings,” explains Bilotta. “The entertainment industry and wealth management firms are all flocking to Miami because they are following the wealth.”

While increasing interest rates and market volatility in the US might be starting to slow down the decision-making process when it comes to committing to the purchase such a high-value asset, Nicholson is confident that US brokerage market will remain robust in the near future. He concludes that, “As long as credit is still available – even if at a higher interest rate – US clients will continue to buy yachts.”  

Please contact us to learn more about the US market trends.