Sales market predictions for 2024

Superyacht moored off the Buddha Bar in Mykonos, Greece.

It’s mid-January and the year is steaming ahead at pace, but the consensus among superyacht brokers is that the sales market will settle back to a slower kind of growth in 2024.

Keen to get an idea of how the year might pan out, we canvassed views from across the industry.

Here’s what they told us in response to the question, “How will the sales market perform in 2024?”

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Jamie Edmiston, CEO, Edmiston

“We don’t anticipate that the overall yacht market will be as strong in 2024 as it was in the last two years – 2022 and 2023. In particular, we expect to see a degree of softening in the 40-65m market. We expect the top end of the market – 65m and over to remain reasonably good, with the high-quality yachts from the best shipyards trading. Regardless of the sector, 2024 will be the year that owners need to price their yachts sensibly. History shows that if they are priced correctly yachts tend to sell. This is no time for vanity pricing.” 

Will Christie, founder, Christie Yachts

“As we predicted this time last year, brokerage volumes were down considerably in 2023. The general state of the market was flattered by the sale of a handful of very large, high-value yachts over 75m though. Values and sales of production GRP yachts have been particularly affected as there is plenty of supply, and demand has been noticeably down. That said, we feel the market is starting to correct properly. Our market has always taken a long time to react, but we are now seeing sellers of such boats getting realistic on what level the market will support. This in turn has awoken buyers who are now ready to go shopping as they feel sellers are in the right kind of zone.

“This is the busiest start to the year that we have had in over two decades in the business. Our prediction is that the volume of brokerage sales of GRP yachts under 50m will pick up this first half of the year as values continue to correct. At the very top end of size and quality we expect values will hold a little stronger as the major shipyards are still very busy and working through their order books – as such, new-build replacement prices remain high. New-build prices will continue to hold firm during 2024, but we predict a softening from Q4 2024 as new orders were noticeably down in 2023 and we expect that to be the case this year as well. In conclusion, there will be opportunities for well-advised buyers and sales for sellers of well-maintained, good quality yachts who price accurately from the outset. We won’t see volumes reaching the records we saw in 2021/22, but overall we expect to see more deals than 2023.

“Any uncertainty in our market is never helpful as people are more inclined to stand back and see what happens. Doing nothing sometimes becomes the default option. That said, the market has been fairly resilient through the recent situation in Israel, although if that spills out into wider and more escalated conflict it could put the brakes on the market a bit.”

READ: Christie on the deal, slow burns and bear markets

Chris Cecil-Wright, founder, Cecil Wright

“In our segment, the larger end of the bespoke northern European market, two things strike me at the moment. The first is that sellers of quality brokerage yachts are yet to really consider the effects of recent inflation when setting their asking prices, which obviously make them look more and more attractive each day. I would expect this to lead to an increase in sales activity this spring.  

“The second is that at the top shipyards, demand still outstrips supply, so although prices are now close to €100,000 per GT they are still signing new builds. 

“Obviously the 60m+ market is very small in terms of volume so it’s difficult to identify trends, but it does still feel buoyant.” 

READ: Cecil-Wright on ‘acceptance’ and the art of the broker

Raphael Sauleau, CEO, IYC

“I am optimistic that the [post-Covid] years we went through are on pause, if not over, and we are going back to the years where the market was behaving normally, still growing, but without the craziness we have had for the last few years. I foresee us going back to regular, consistent growth in 2024, but maybe in a slower fashion – one digit – because of the uncertainty in the world and the US election.

“We always have this situation during a US election year where people aren’t necessarily committing, they want to see what the situation is before they purchase so it may impact our industry. Will it be a very strong slowdown? I personally don’t think so.

“We still have people increasing their wealth and new people getting the bandwidth to buy new yachts so we will still have new customers. We’ve had a lot of sales in the last three years and I believe some new tonnage will come to the market, which all translates into a buyers’ market from a sellers’ market so there will be some opportunities for people with cash and I still believe the market will be relatively alright.”

Patrick Coote, MD Europe, Northrop & Johnson

“During Q4 2023 there was a growing sense that 2024 could be a challenging year, given the unstable geopolitical landscape, particularly in Ukraine, Palestine and Yemen, as well as the forthcoming US elections. Bold predictions about the next 12 months would be unwise at this point but I’m pleased to say that the new year has started well. Enquiry levels for both sales and charter are encouraging. It’s not uncommon for people to return from the Christmas holidays energized and excited about fixing their summer plans and we’re certainly seeing that. For that reason, whilst many of the political and economic indicators still suggest there may be tough times ahead, I’d say we are nevertheless currently cautiously optimistic.”

READ: Coote on Pamela Anderson, ‘dream job’, US elections and carrots 

Tim Langmead, sales broker, Camper & Nicholson’s

“I think there is renewed optimism in the market with a high number of yachts selling in December and early January. We have witnessed the needed correction of asking prices in many cases. Still a bit more to go, I would say. A long line of new build yachts are getting ready for delivery in 2024, hopefully revealing a new rung of brokerage boats to the market.

“Clients are more informed than ever before, therefore educated to make the purchase decision easier. As of the second week of 2024 I view the year ahead with high hopes for growth, a return to ‘normal’ with less talk of boom or bust and many smooth, streamlined transactions.”

Jan-Jaap Minnema, sales broker, Fraser Yachts

“I think the EU sales market will remain quiet and buyers prudent. For the larger yachts, the marketplace is worldwide and depends more on local conditions. The US market and her buyers remain strong. The difficulty will be for the yards, I’m afraid. The prices have risen more than the average client can understand, and compared to brokerage yachts the difference is big. This price increase is not something the yards can avoid or be blamed for,  but they must deal with the consequences.

“Although we saw a drop in sales in the 24-60m market of approximately 22% in 2023, it is still the third best year in history after the crazy 2021/2022 period. The 60-70m market grew by 280% last year and the 70-100m by almost 8%.  So it is not all negative.

“My expectations in general are a further slowdown in numbers, but still steady and big enough to keep the serious players and brokerage market healthy.”

Sam Tucker, sales broker, Moravia Yachting

“I am actually very optimistic about 2024. It’s been well documented that 2023 was a quieter year compared to the recent historical trend – I think this was primarily due to the ongoing threat of a recession and also the constant hiking of interest rates. It seems that we have likely avoided a recession, and most forecasters do not predict any further interest rate increases. For these reasons, clients who may have been holding back in 2023 now have more confidence and are starting discussions again as we enter 2024.

“Personally, since Christmas, I’ve been particularly busy and have seen a big uptick in activity. Perhaps that’s when owners get some time off their careers and reflect on their assets, and they make plans for the new year. Perhaps also they are bored during the downtime and focus their efforts on ‘fun’ projects.

“The larger yacht market (say 500+GT) has been particularly resistant over the past year, and the downturn has really only been noticed in the smaller size platforms where owners will typically contribute a larger percentage of their net worth to floating assets. I predict that the large yacht segment will remain strong (although perhaps there is a lack of inventory) and the smaller yachts will bounce back to the long-run trend. I don’t think we’ll see 2022 levels, but if we draw a straight line going upwards from 2010 which represents the market, I think we’ll see that 2022 sits well above the line, 2023 sits just below the line and 2024 will be exactly on the line. In other words, I expect us to go back to normal.

“Things to look out for in 2024:

  • Shipyards are still very busy fulfilling orders made in the overheated times of 2021-2022, they are therefore pushing yachts out at a record pace, so the quality of the delivered products must be scrutinised.
  • The fleet growth has outstripped the increase in marina capacity so I expect rates to increase since there will be increased competition for the berths.
  • Since 2023 had tighter purse strings, perhaps maintenance budgets were squeezed too, so anyone buying a brokerage yacht should pay extra attention to the survey results and interrogate maintenance logs.”

Chris Callahan, broker, Moran Yachts

“We as a company continue to be bullish on what 2024 will bring for the large yacht market. I think we’ll start to see more inventory come on the market in the next few months as there is currently a shortage of quality yachts for sale, especially in the 50m+ range.”

Tim Johnson, founder & CEO, TJB Super Yachts

“As expected, the macro-economic landscape of increased inflation and rising labour costs has had an adverse effect on the price of new-build yachts globally – however, this in turn created a buoyant brokerage market where 2023 saw some truly huge transactions at the top end of the used yacht fleet, where perhaps, in times of cheaper money and more economical build prices, these owners would have gone new.

“Where prospective buyers were perhaps a little tentative looking for the post-pandemic ‘distressed asset’ last year, we feel that their patience may wear thin and the desire for ownership could take over, with lots of movement predicted for 2024, especially the sub-60m category if paired with reduced interest rates.

“With order books looking incredibly healthy across many shipyards, the demand is expected to remain firm across both new and used yachts through 2024.”

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