5 Financial Questions When Buying a Luxury Yacht
As a yacht consultancy in luxury yacht sales, we inevitably get asked hundreds of questions from first-time yacht buyers: “Should I build new or buy used? How big of a yacht should I buy? Where can I take my yacht? Which yachts are family-friendly?” plus many more.
While there are a number of important factors to consider before, during, and after the luxury yacht sales process, total cost of ownership is one of the most critical.
But if this is your first time purchasing a yacht, how do you uncover all of the costs that go into ownership? You’re in luck. Here we break down five significant financial questions to ponder when purchasing and owning a luxury yacht for sale.
Total cost of ownership in luxury yacht buying
Question 1: What is a luxury yacht’s average purchase price and what does it include?
Yacht prices vary according to the quality, size and personalization you desire. While it is possible to find a yacht for less than a million euros, the majority of luxury yacht sales range in the multi-million euro range, with superyachts ranging in the tens and hundreds of millions of euros.
When you make your offer to buy, it is normal to deposit 10% of the offer price in escrow. The offer is almost always contingent on three conditions; sea trial, survey and ability to obtain financing if you aren’t already pre-approved.
At the time you submit your offer, you’ll also want to ensure you take an accurate inventory of the vessel using photographs so it is clear what is to be included in the offer and purchase price.
Interest and Depreciation
Question 2: How much depreciation should I expect each year for a yacht?
Much like a new car, a new boat depreciates most during the first year. A rule of thumb is to expect 10% depreciation in year one and 6-8% for the following four or five years. The vessel’s depreciation will typically level off after to just a few percentage points after that. Of course, buying a used yacht will produce less of a depreciation hit.
Question 3: What are the operating costs for a luxury yacht?
According to a report by Towergate Insurance, expect maintenance to cost you around 10% of the yacht’s initial price tag on an annual basis. So the owner of a €10 million yacht should expect to pay a minimum €1 million every year to keep it operating. Owners should consider the cost of food, crews, fuel, title registration and insurance, docking fees, plus maintenance & repairs.
Fortunately, to offset the costs of your yacht, buyers can charter their yacht to recover some of those expenses. In fact, your luxury yacht sales broker can create a business plan before you purchase your yacht to structure the associated costs and income you can expect.
Question 4: What is the average cost for a crew of a yacht?
A typical yacht will need a captain, mate, deckhand, chief stewardess, stewardess(es) and a chef. Larger vessels typically require additional crew staff such as an interior manager, purser, and engineer.
According to Anita Griffiths, manager corporate and trust services at Döhle Corporate Trust Services Limited, “A 50m yacht, for example, will have approximately twelve to fifteen crew on board with monthly salaries ranging from fifteen thousand euros for the captain to two thousand euros for the lowest paid deckhand,” she explains. “This results in an annual wage bill of over one million euros. Add to this the recruitment fees, repatriation costs for off-signing crew and insurance costs, and the amount rises quickly, especially if crew turnover is high.” You can see a breakdown of additional costs below.
Want an idea of luxury yacht crew costs in USD? According to this Forbes article, “Captains cost roughly $1,000 per year per foot of boat—that’s $110,000 or so to command a 100-footer and $220,000 or more for yachts over 200 feet. You’ll also need an engineer for another $90,000 to $130,000 because the complex mechanical systems are beyond the skills of a mere crewman. In addition, plan to hire at least one crew member per guest. Deckhands and stewards can range from $30,000 to $50,000 per year, but good chefs cost at least $70,000 a year.”
Keep in mind that the crew costs will vary considerably depending on the size of your yacht. Smaller yachts need less crew and thus will have dramatically less price tags for crew staff.
Question 5: What resale value can I expect for a luxury yacht?
In question 2, we shared the average depreciation rate which is a major factor in a yacht’s resale value. That is, “a rule of thumb is to expect 10% depreciation in year one and 6-8% for the following four or five years.” However, other considerations that affect resale value are yacht brand & quality and maintenance. Poor or deferred maintenance can profoundly negatively impact resale value.
It’s important to note that most yacht owners keep their vessels for 3-4 years. Major machinery will often require major repairs in years 5-7 according to retired surveyor, David Pascoe.
The age of the vessel and the surveyor’s report will also have an impact on a yacht’s resale value.
Resales values can be as low as 40-50% of the luxury yacht’s initial price or even as high as 80%. You’ll want to calculate the total cost of ownership to get a better idea as to how much your yacht purchase will really cost you in the long run.
As you can see, there are a number of important financial factors to consider before, during, and after the luxury yacht sales process. Given the costs associated with the purchase of a yacht, we highly recommend contacting a professional yacht consultant or broker. They can offer tremendous value and assistance by helping to make your yacht buying experience more seamless.
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