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 that yachting can bring unparalleled levels of joy, entertainment, and quality time with family and friends, but they will also tell you that it is vital to seek out the right advice upfront to avoid making expensive and time-consuming mistakes.

Consider Your Requirements
Start by determining what type of boat you are 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 with whom you are planning to sail. A good starting point is to find a knowledgeable advisor whom you trust — this could be a yacht broker or a captain. The yacht market is highly complex and getting sound advice is an essential first step.

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 allowances for such costs, which may include the cost of replacing the engine or any gear on board. Remember that around 10% of the value of your yacht will be spent each year on insurance, maintenance, and mooring, and the larger the yacht, the more complex these issues become.

Arrange a Viewing
Once a yacht has caught your eye, ascertain 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 to arrange viewings to give you a better picture of the space. View several yachts to help you understand the amenities, features, size, and style you value most, as this will allow you to assess 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 the full price of a yacht, then you can certainly do so. However, if you need to finance your yacht, this is also an option. Many first-time yacht owners pay 20% to 40% as the initial down payment and then proceed with a monthly arrangement, 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 first confirming that it is in sound condition. A survey will reveal potential maintenance issues and can help you negotiate the price, if necessary. A survey team will generally consist of a lead surveyor, mechanical specialists (often from the engine and generator manufacturers), and technical specialists for aspects such as electronic equipment (including satellite equipment), air conditioning systems, and audio-visual equipment.

Before signing anything, check all the documents thoroughly. You should receive the original VAT paid invoice, which will be essential if you choose to sell the yacht at a later stage. If you are uncertain about the VAT status or about any other documentation, it is best to consult an experienced professional.

Once the survey has been concluded and the negotiations have been settled, you should receive proof of ownership, bills of sale for at least the past five years, a certificate of registry, and proof of VAT status.

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