Rob Hammerling is an experienced yacht broker who has established his presence in the South Florida boating industry over the past decade. He has provided HAVEN with his insights on the latest trends in the boating market in September 2023 and last February, and leading up to the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show this month and the Palm Beach International Boat Show in March, we sat down with Rob to get his input as 2024 gets into full swing.
HAVEN: Hello Rob! It’s a pleasant surprise to have you back so soon. We understand that there’s been a huge shift in your business.
Rob: Hah! Well, you know I love this stuff! Look, it’s an interesting time we live in. I’m 63 years old, spent my first career on Wall Street, and have never seen the Fed be able to manage a “soft landing” for our economy and avoid a recession. But they did this time, and I don’t think nearly enough credit has been given. It’s also the first Presidential election year I can remember where people didn’t want to sit on the sidelines until it was over. Which is shocking, given the seemingly insurmountable divide we are seeing between the two presumed candidate’s supporters. So, what we are seeing in the boat industry is the return of the finance buyer, who evaporated as interest rates went from 4% to 9%. And it’s not so much a reduction of rates, which hasn’t happened, as a stabilization and belief that lower rates in the future will both keep the economy strong and provide refinancing options. The higher end of the market, the $1,000,000-and-up buyer, has been here all along since they were typically cash or short-term loan buyers who were far less susceptible to economic downturns. So, in a nutshell, I expect the upcoming shows to be filled with buyers anxious to replace an existing boat or add to their collection.
Rob: South Florida has continued to solidify its position as the go-to haven for business, the wealthy, and those who aspire to be wealthy. Just as America, in general, has been a “safe harbor” to the world for over 50 years, South Florida has become a safe harbor for America. Business-friendly, no income tax, $18k sales tax cap on boats, to say nothing of the weather. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we have a huge influx of smart money; it’s not about politics, it’s about quality of life. So yes, I think the two upcoming shows will shatter the existing records, and even if the national economy slows down, I don’t see it happening here.
HAVEN: Thank you, once again, Rob, and best of luck with the Nautical Ventures Yacht Group.
Rob: Thank you for the ongoing support. I’m looking forward to seeing your team in Miami and Palm Beach!