Yacht buying guide. Top Points to Consider Before Buying

Buying a luxury yacht is a big decision and with so much choice available. It is important that you ask the right questions and think through exactly what you might want to find the perfect match.

Getting a good feel for what you do and don’t like before beginning the process of creating a yacht shortlist, whether through charter, visiting a boat show or simply discussing what you imagine your ideal yacht to be with one of IYC’s expert team can be a valuable exercise. Finding the right broker who you trust and enjoy working with is a crucial decision that will influence your whole buying experience.

Here are our top considerations around buying a yacht. Having answers to some or all of these points will help to narrow down the selection and bring more clarity to your decision process.

Set your desired budget

Setting your budget will help to filter out some available options and affect some of the key points to review (outlined below) with budget having an impact on many factors such as size. Having established your budget you may decide that buying a brokerage yacht is a better decision than a new build project as you may be able to get more yachts for your money rather than building from scratch.

Decide whether you want to buy a motor yacht or a sailing boat

Motor versus sail? Some people will instantly be able to answer this question, others may prefer to view both types of the yacht before making a final decision. Each yacht type offers very different experiences of ownership and has its own advantages. If travelling under sail, or involvement in the vibrant and busy sailing regatta scene appeals then a sailing yacht may be for you. If you are looking for more onboard space, stability, and a better communications setup, a motor yacht may suit you better, with motor yachts also often being more popular with families.

Decide on the approximate length

Size can come with usage restrictions, so it is worth thinking carefully about how you will use your yacht. Do you want to visit areas that necessitate a shallow draft, or are you planning to stick to bigger, deep water ports? Make sure you choose a yacht big enough to accommodate the number of people you would like to host on board. Remember the bigger the yacht, the higher the running costs.


Decide on a new versus second-hand yacht. If choosing a brokerage yacht decide on the maximum age of the yacht.

New versus used can be the biggest decision to make, with clear advantages to both. A new build allows you a clean slate, no surprises or secrets, and with as much creative vision as you like. If buying pre-owned there are also many benefits, including a short wait time before taking delivery, a lower cost price than a new build, and the ability to try before you buy. If you are buying a brokerage yacht you may wish to set a limit on the age of the yacht when undertaking your search.

Decide on the type or style of yacht, and whether you are interested in a planing, semi, or full displacement yacht

Deciding on the type or style of yacht is a very personal choice and you may have a distinct preference of the designer, builder, hull type, and more. If having a one-of-a-kind is important to you then a custom build is likely the best option. Many owners opt for tried and tested production models, or a compromise between custom and production with a semi-custom model.

Hull type, including number of hulls, is very relevant to how you wish to use your yacht, with displacementsemi-displacement and planing the main choices. The exterior styling is another very important and personal choice, with a wide range of designs on offer from explorer yachts and classic sailing yachts to fast, streamlined modern yachts.


Decide your desired accommodation needs, both for the number of guests and crew (an agreeable yacht layout is a key to a successful purchase)

When deciding accommodation needs there are several questions to ask. How many people would you like to be able to welcome on board? Will you be chartering the yacht and is it a charter-friendly accommodation layout? Do you want complete privacy between the crew and guest areas? Does the yacht need to have child-friendly accommodation or have good disabled access with lifts and ramps? What service level are you expecting and can the yacht accommodate the number of crew that will meet these expectations?

Decide your preferred cruising area

Where you would like to use your yacht can have a big impact on the type of yacht you choose. Some cruising areas may have restrictions such as a shallow draft. Does your yacht need to be able to travel long distances or be hardy enough to endure extended ocean passages, and will longer trips require extra onboard storage? If you are planning to keep your yacht in a hot/dry/cold environment has it been designed with this in mind? Is there a particular port or marina you want to moor in and does this have size/draft limitations?


Decide your desired cruising speed, cruising range.
The importance of speed versus comfort onboard

Some people like to get from A to B fast, with speed being incredibly important to them. Others may place more importance on comfort and stability when at sea. If you are planning extended cruising you should ensure the yacht you choose has a great enough range to achieve the required distances. Your chosen hull type will also have an impact on comfort and speed.

Decide on desired interior feel

The interior design is one of the best ways to make your mark on a yacht and finding a yacht that is to your taste is crucial. You may prefer a classically styled yacht or perhaps a more modern look. Are there particular items or pieces of artwork you would like to bring on board and will they work alongside the interior? You may also be seeking an interior that is the work of a particular designer. If the existing interior is not to your liking but everything else about the yacht meets your requirements you might consider the option of an interior refit.


Decide on key features that may be of interest

Depending on how you plan to use your yacht there may be onboard features that are desirable or must-haves. If you are a lover of the outdoors and/or watersports a beach club or ample storage for toys and tenders will likely be a must. If you plan to entertain, dedicated dining areas, outdoor spaces and a spacious galley will be important to you. There may also be certain design aspects, such as large windows, good indoor-outdoor flow, or a private owner’s deck that appeal.

Decide on the yacht build material

There is a wide range of choices when it comes to yacht construction materials, with differences in weight, strength, material costs, and more with each bringing its benefits. Most modern yachts are built from a choice of four main materials: aluminium, steel, GRP, and wood. Make sure you are clear on the advantages and limitations of each option – your IYC Sales Consultant can guide you through this. Many yacht designs will draw on a combination of materials and some yards and/or designers will specialize in or have a preference for a particular material, which may influence your choice.


Decide whether environment-friendly features are important to you

There have been huge advances in environmentally friendly yacht design in recent years with ‘green’ yachts offering both financial and environmental advantages thanks to the use of hybrid technology, efficient hull design, and more. You should decide if this is an important aspect of your yacht’s design.

Decide whether you want to charter the yacht or whether you will strictly use her as a private vessel

If you are planning to charter your yacht you will need to ensure you are buying a yacht that is either already compliant, or able to be made compliant, with the various rules and regulations that will allow it to be chartered out. Note that a charter-compliant yacht can be a real positive when it comes to resale down the line.
Private ownership means you need to think of no one but yourself, while charter yachts may be styled or designed with a wider audience in mind. Consider whether you are willing to share your yacht with others and whether you are happy to have a layout/interior that is suited to a charter audience.

Have a professional give you clear guidance on approximate annual running costs

It is important to give thought to annual running costs on top of the purchase price, and one of IYC’s team specialists can advise on this. Costs will directly relate to the type, size and usage of the yacht, with aspects like fuel costing more if you plan to cover significant distances, and maintenance costs rising alongside hours of use and conditions in which the yacht is kept. Having a good idea of what your yacht will cost to run and whether this fits in your budget, will ensure no surprises.