Guide to buying your first yacht

Buying a yacht, especially your first, can be an overwhelming experience. You will need to consider your budget, where you want to sail, and what size you require before you even start thinking about what styles and designs you prefer. Ask any yacht owner and they will tell you about how yachting can bring unparalleled levels of joy, entertainment, and quality time with family and friends, but they’ll also tell you how it’s vital to seek out the right advice up front to avoid making expensive and time-consuming mistakes.

Consider your requirements

You might want to start by determining what type of boat you’re looking for. If you have chartered yachts before you may have a preference for sail or motor yachts, and the size you choose will depend on both your budget and who you are planning on sailing with. A good place to start is finding a knowledgeable advisor you trust, this could be a yacht broker or captain. The yacht market is highly complex and getting sound advice is an essential first step, West Nautical’s client managers have access to the entire global fleet at the touch of a button and can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Plan your budget

When you are ready to draw up a budget, remember to include a generous allowance for unexpected costs. First-time yacht owners might not think about making an allowance for infrequent but expensive items such as replacing the engine or any gear on board. Remember around 10% of the value of your yacht will be spent each year on mooring, maintenance and insurance, and the larger the yacht, the more complex these issues become.

Arrange a viewing

Once a yacht has caught your eye, check why the vendor is selling and make sure they are knowledgeable about the yacht. Working with your chosen industry specialist, you will be able to make a shortlist of the yachts you are interested in and help you arrange viewings to give you a better picture of the space. View several yachts to help you understand the size, style, features and amenities you value most, this will also allow you to get to grips with the operational costs associated with various yachts.

Financing

You can pay for your luxury yacht the same way you would pay for a luxury car. If you are able to pay for the full price of a yacht, then you may pay cash. However if you need to finance your yacht, this is also an option. Many first-time yacht owners put 20%-40% down as the initial payment and then pay monthly, often with a 20-year loan term.

Closing the deal

It is important to conduct a professional survey on the yacht; some insurance companies will not insure a yacht without confirming it is in sound condition. A survey will show potential maintenance issues and can help you to negotiate the price if necessary.

A survey team will generally be made up of a lead surveyor, mechanical specialists (often from the engine and generator manufacturers), and then technical specialists for things such as electronics equipment including satellite equipment, air conditioning systems and audio- visual equipment.

Check all the documents thoroughly. You should receive the original VAT paid invoice, which is essential if you choose to sell it again. If you’re uncertain about the VAT status or any other documentation, an experienced client manager like the team at West Nautical can advise you on what is required for any particular vessel.

Once the survey has been concluded and the negotiations settled, you should receive the proof of ownership: Bills of Sale for the last five years at minimum, Certificate of Registry and proof of VAT status.

There are many things to consider when taking the plunge into superyacht ownership, and with 2000 yachts currently on market, the superyacht industry can be overwhelming. Through the launch of its new market intelligence offering, West Nautical aims to cut through the noise to provide clarity in a complex and fast-paced marketplace. Our personalised reports save you time and money while helping you make well-informed decisions.