Understanding yacht berthing: Supply and demand
Last updated: 03/07/2019
Searching for suitable yacht berthing for purchase or rental is a necessary evil for superyacht captains and crew, who spend much of their time hunting for available moorings in desirable marinas around the world.
With the persistent cycle of berthing excesses and shortages currently circling again to the scarcer side in the Mediterranean, Yachting Pages uncovers the factors that influence the supply and demand of yacht berthing, subsequently raising purchase costs and resale values, especially in the Mediterranean.
Why do berthing shortages occur?
Generally, the larger the yacht, the more restrictions faced in terms of berthing. With this in mind, many believe that the market for very large yacht berths is the greatest, when in fact it is typically the mid-sized bracket that is most deficient, with the sub 45-metre segment being massively overprescribed. This is a phenomenon that is only set to worsen as new builds flood the market and existing superyachts go up for sale, left idle in berth while under brokerage.
Given that superyacht owners often purchase their vessels for the fun, freedom and privacy that they can provide, berthing shortages due to the ongoing trends of seasonal overcrowding and congestion in popular yachting destinations are a dangerous omen for the future of the industry.
With the yachting set fixed in their cruising patterns, new investment in marina developments in new areas – such as Asia and South America, for example - cannot be attracted through fear of underuse. Unless those aboard are therefore convinced to change their migratory patterns, seeking new grounds or visiting during the low season, it is possible that shortages will continue with bigger yachts able to dominate the popular spots, further increasing demand, forcing up prices and pushing smaller yachts out.
What affects the cost and value of yacht berths?
Put simply, supply and demand dictates the cost and value of home berths. The good news is, those investing in a home berth can expect to see an increase in value over the term of their lease, plus a security of tenure that’s not found with a rented berth.
Just like the property and real estate markets, supply and demand influences the prices of home berths around the world with prices varying dependent on:
- The duration of the lease
- The popularity of the marina or destination, and scarcity of berthing
- The dimensions of the selected berth
In the marine sector, berth brokers and yacht agents will often share their listings and commissions with each other, allowing the vendor to showcase their berth to a much wider audience. Here, the names of possible buyers are kept confidential, with multiple enquiries from the same buyer across several brokers often causing an impression of increased demand, and in turn, a subsequent increase in sale prices.
Similarly, a vendor may see the same yacht berth listed with several brokers and agencies, giving them the impression that there are more berths available to suit their requirements than there really are, in turn causing them to adopt a much more casual approach to the purchase, offering a much lower price.
With this in mind, the few berths for sale are snapped up quickly, with prices in the more desirable marinas holding strong. The chance of finding a berth for rental is also extremely difficult, especially if sourcing from a country outside that of the port itself.
Understanding yacht berthing in the Mediterranean
With the yachting elite flocking to the much-loved cruising grounds of the Mediterranean year after year, any experienced captain or crew member will know first-hand the difficulties met when trying to secure yacht berthing across the region, whether for the long or short term.
In 2012, an estimated 60% of superyacht owners chose to put down roots in the region, purchasing a home berth in the Med. For this reason, and the hospitable allure of its charming cities and warm waters, it’s no surprise that more and more superyachts are choosing to home berth here, posing increasing issues with berthing shortages and rocketing costs.
Peter Murray Kerr of MooringSpot advises that there is not actually a shortage of berths in the Mediterranean generally, but this perceived problem is location specific, typically along the French Riviera. Depending on the marina the process to secure a berth is expected to take anywhere from two weeks to three months, approximately.
Yacht berthing in France
Peter advised that it is not currently possible to rent a berth on a long-term basis in the South of France, with annual rental contracts being almost impossible to obtain due to oversubscription and the low turnover of current holders.
As one of the Med’s most popular yachting hubs, the purchase price of yacht berths here can seem disproportionate to rental rates, although this is a phenomenom that is gradually falling. The typical lease in the South of France runs for six to seven years, but beware as many of the country’s marinas haven’t adapted to fully accommodate the dimensions of the larger yachts of today.
In France, where the majority of private berths are effectively leased as shares in the marina, owners should expect to pay a tax of 5.81% as ‘registration rights’ when submitting a Declaration de Cession de Droits Sociaux.
There are opportunities to purchase all year-around, but some marinas along the popular south coast say that they have a 10 to 20 year waiting list.
Yacht berthing in Spain and the Balearics
In Spain, the taxation on yacht berthing is 7% of the declared amount of the price of the berth. The typical lease period is again six to seven years here.
It’s worth noting that, when buying a berth in Spain, all non-citizens will need a Numero de Indentificacion de Extranjero (NIE) - a kind of identification number for foreign nationals – to be issued. This is a necessity in all fiscal and legal matters in Spain.
Yacht berthing in Italy and Sardinia
Northern Italy is also another busy and sought-after destination in which to berth a yacht, with Imperia being a great example of a superyacht haven. Here, a 4% tax is generally applied to berth sales.
Yacht berthing in Turkey
Begum Yachting yacht agents advise that, in Turkey, it is not currently an option to purchase a permanent berth for a superyacht. It is therefore typical for visiting crew to arrange for longer-term annual berthing, fees for which change from marina to marina depending on the dimensions of your vessel.