Should I Buy a New or Used Yacht?

The answer to this question is probably the same as ‘how long’s a piece of string?’. It depends. However, there are several things to consider when comparing the advantages and disadvantages of buying a new or used yacht. 

The obvious benefits to buying new apply to most things, including luxury cars. With new comes a warranty! One might expect that a new yacht is less likely to have problems than a pre-owned yacht, at least when you buy her. And there, one would be wrong!  New yachts can come with lots of niggles. 

It’s not unknown for new boats to have some big issues early on. Loose jubilee clips on heads pipes, faulty sea cocks, etc. These things can come to light on a new boat right out of the factory, so if you are buying new, make sure you have a few weeks to properly shake out any faults before you head off to pastures new!

Pre-used yachts are unlikely to come with a warranty, so a survey is critical. This is an additional cost you will have to bear (unless you can negotiate it away), together with a boat lift. That said, pre-used boats may well come with lots of kit already, including sails, whereas a new yacht might be sold excluding sails and certainly excluding most other things which, in themselves, will set you back a few thousand pounds!

Wear and tear is something you shouldn't have to budget large sums for with a new yacht, at least initially, but like pre-used options, you will have to allow for depreciation and, as with everything else, new depreciates faster!  The good news is that most lenders will lend more over longer when you are buying new, so that will likely mitigate your monthly ownership costs.

Another way to mitigate the costs of a new boat is some sort of fractional ownership or managed scheme. Several of the big charter companies offer discounts on new boats in return for free use of the vessel for a fixed period. During the period it’s usual for you to be granted several weeks free charter and at the end of the agreement you are left with a pre-used boat.  During the management period the charter company is usually responsible for maintenance and berthing costs, etc..

Another reason to buy new is prestige and aesthetic. Every one of us likes ‘shiny’ and a brand new yacht is certainly that! Cushions and bedding are pristine and decks and deck gear are immaculate. Of course, the downside to perfection, especially when it spends its time at sea, is that it fades. Also, new yachts (or at least new designs) are unproven. Older yachts that have been properly tested in numbers tend to build a loyal following which can underpin values.  A brand new design might gain that following, or it might prove itself to be unpopular with the yacht buying public.

Whether you buy new or old, remember that if you keep her in the EU you need to establish whether VAT has been paid on her and make sure you obtain all the necessary paperwork to prove it - otherwise you could end up having your pride and joy confiscated or be faced with a very big bill!

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