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Yacht Broker Helps Boat Transactions Float

By Cindy Atoji Keene
Yacht broker Marc Winder admits his name is apropos for his job at Sailboats Northeast in Marblehead. He gets teased frequently about his surname, but says for boat buyers and sellers, it’s an apt reminder of his maritime services. As a yacht broker, he acts as an agent, assisting with negotiations and helping clients locate vessels to purchase. “Unlike a house or car, people who are buying a yacht are doing it because they want to, not because they have to. So it’s a very pleasurable experience for all of us,” said Winder, 62, who likes to say that he “jumped ship” four years ago from construction management to become a yacht sales professional. Most of his customers are families looking for a recreational yacht, but he also has “high enders buying very exotic race boats.”

Q: What’s the difference between a yacht and a boat?
A: The two terms get thrown around interchangeably, but boats tend to be row boats or dinghys, whereas yachts are serious boats with sophisticated rigging, mechanisms, and electrical systems. We often also refer to them as ‘vessels,’ since that is how the Coast Guard refers to anything that floats.

Q: What types of yacht are in currently in high demand?
A: There is a great deal of activity in high-performance sports boats, sometimes called ‘one design’ because they are a uniform style that is used for racing. They are fun boats with minimal cruising accommodations but still suitable for a couple nights out on the waters. A family might do a Wednesday night race and then head for a weekend jaunt on an island.

Q: What’s the typical price range for a yacht?
A: Anywhere from as little as $2,500 to $250,000 and up. It’s important to work within your budget. One of my early questions is, ‘What are you comfortable spending?’ It makes no sense showing yachts beyond their reach – it’s cruel.

Q: Is brokering a yacht still very bound up in tradition?
A: It continues to function in a very polite way, where there is a great deal of trust invested in brokers. We sit down without attorneys, and often I equally represent both buyer and seller. Some first-time buyers are a bit surprised by the level of care that goes into the transaction, including documenting the vessel and transferring documentation. My commission is 10 percent of selling price, which gets divided up in multiple ways.

Q: What kind of boat do you own?
A: I used to have a wonderful Freedom 32 which I sold, much to the gnashing of teeth of my two children. So I am still hunting for my own boat. A yacht broker is his own worst customer.

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