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Yacht Purchase Process [Complete Guide]

November 5, 2021 4:30 pm

Considering the purchase of a superyacht? There are plenty of websites, magazines, and television shows where you can do your preliminary research, but having made the decision to move towards a purchase, where do you go to kick off the process and what, exactly, is that process?  

Finding a Broker

The maritime and yachting world is rife with jargon (flag state, charter certificates, port state control, etc.) and the sales process adds to that the terms “listing broker” and “selling broker.”  The “listing” broker has the listing of a particular yacht for sale, and the “selling” broker will “sell” a listed yacht to a client (the buyer). Most yacht brokers will perform both services, when they list a yacht that they sold previously to the client/owner. Beware, however, of conflicts of interest that may appear if brokers are representing both the seller and the buyer in one transaction; that broker’s loyalty is split and it may not be the best business approach for neither the seller nor buyer. 


The key point here for you, the potential buyer, is to find a broker that you trust. Clients obviously will look for referrals from friends and acquaintances, but if the relationship is not right, then don’t be afraid to look again. A good broker should be looking after your interests only.

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Knowing the Market

Noting what yachts have grabbed your attention in your preliminary research, your broker should start to search the market on your behalf. The market is worldwide, with yachts available for purchase on almost every coastline imaginable. A good broker will be aware of current market trends, what boat shows are coming up, where the deals are, and, of course, be able to identify which boats may meet your wants and needs.

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Making an Offer

Once you’ve decided on the yacht, the time will come to make an offer. Your offer, called a “standard purchase offer”, is converted into a PDF and sent via email from your broker to the listing broker. Once received, you should expect a response to your offer within two banking days. It is important to note that your initial offer to the broker will most likely be countered. In fact, your broker and the listing broker may go back and forth with offers before arriving at a mutually agreeable price, and it may take 2-3 counter offers before a decision is made.

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Going Under Contract + Survey Process

Going Under Contract – After an offer has been accepted, the yacht will go under contract. The contract will provide a timeline for milestones through the rest of the process, such as surveys, acceptance, and closing. It will also include a list of documentation for the seller to provide for the buyer’s team to complete a proper due diligence review of the yacht and her certificates.

The Survey Process – A good condition survey will form the starting point for the new owner’s husbandry of a high-value asset. Depending on the size of the yacht, a survey may take several days, with four or five separate maritime surveyors specializing in areas such as machinery, paint coatings, electrical installations, and hull construction.

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Denison White Paper Yacht Purchase Process

The Closing Process + Next Steps

Closing – Depending on the tax implications of the particular jurisdiction and the corporate structure used by the buyer, closings may take place in a marina or offshore. There will be a requirement for notarized representatives of both buyer and seller to be present, plus the escrowed transfer of funds. Again, the broker will guide the buyer through the process, as the listing broker should be representing the seller and his/her interests. 

Next Steps – Be ready to own the yacht after the closing. Hiring suitable crew, finding dockage for the yacht immediately after closing, establishing yacht operating bank accounts, developing a budget, possibly retaining a management company, and planning a refit (if any), will all require help from your broker.

Looking for more details?

Receive the complete Yacht Purchase Process Guide including:

  • • Closing Process + Timeline
  • • Compliance + Certification
  • • Next Steps + More
Denison White Paper  (2021) - Yacht Purchase Process

This should not be considered a complete purchase guide. For a more accurate estimate, contact Clive McCartney.1

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