Spotlight on Luxury Superyacht Broker Michael Payne

Posted March 1, 2018 in Company by Janine St.Denis


Q: What is your background within the yachting industry and how did you come to be a yacht broker?

A: My yachting background began as a boy on my family boats — considerably more modest sizes than we deal with now, I might add. Being raised on the south coast of England, I was always around boats. I later moved to the South of France and after a period as a yacht captain, I took an opportunity to start as a yacht broker about 30 years ago and I never looked back.

Q: What is your best advice to a first-time yacht buyer?

A: My advice would be simple: seek an experienced yacht broker with a solid reputation. The broker will spend valuable time with a client prior to any first-time purchase to take them by the hand and educate them. Also, identify what is the ideal first-time yacht. This is based on the many aspects of owning a yacht, whether it’s a new or a brokerage yacht, knowledge of the market and yacht values, how the yacht will be used — privately or would charter and revenue be a consideration — the running costs, the crew required, etc.

Q: What is the most important facet to a successful yacht sale?

A: Being totally involved and committed from day one with all aspects of the sale. From initial viewings to the offer process, the condition survey and the final completion closing and beyond.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the biggest trends happening in yacht design?

A: It goes without saying that the environmental issues are on everyone’s list — builders and owners take that seriously when designing a yacht. We are seeing many clients looking for a less formal design, with interiors open to exterior spaces, less classical design and more family-oriented layouts. Many yachts are incorporating dedicated towing gear in order to accommodate large chase tenders. Owners now want something totally different from the norm and designers need to be able to push the boundaries to the max.

Q: What is the current state of yachting in Europe?

A: We are seeing a good buoyant trend in the U.S. and 2017 saw a high volume of sales, especially at Northrop & Johnson. That trend stimulates Euro sales and the stronger last quarter results in Europe makes us optimistic and positive for
2018. Good inventory, correctly priced,
is always the challenge. The geopolitical unrest remains a constant threat to many businesses, including yachting.

Q: What makes N&J stand out among other brokerage companies?

A: Recently coming from another leading large brokerage firm, it was extremely refreshing for me to meet new and motivated brokers and staff at Northrop & Johnson; all have considerable experience and track records. The company is headed by Kevin Merrigan, whose leadership is a major factor in the success of Northrop & Johnson. His energy and commitment to the teams around the world drives everyone in the firm to go that extra mile.

Q: What are your five must-have features on a yacht?

A: There are many, but my top five, in no particular order, are:
• Comfortable crew quarters —
this makes crew happy, which makes
for happy owner and guests
• Ample and well-laid-out deck areas
for entertaining and relaxation
• A beach club with easy access to the sea
• Seaworthy and reliable tenders
• An excellent chef in the galley

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