Berth broker Genus Marine says downturn has given rise to a new breed of "bogus operators" in the marine real estate market

One of Europe’s largest marina berth brokers has warned that the economic downturn has led to a proliferation of “bogus operators” setting up in the marine real estate market.

UK-based Genus Marine claims that these companies are copying listings from authorised berth brokers, and inflating the sale price with their own “hefty” commission.

“It seems that the recent downturn in land-based real estate sales has had an unexpected impact in the marine berth market,” said John Brewster, director of Genus Marine & Leisure.

“Displaced real estate agents from the once lucrative second home and holiday rental markets have had their commissions decimated and are looking for greener pastures – some of them have ended up in the comparatively upbeat marine berth market.

“Most of these ‘pirate agents’ have set up business websites by taking unauthorised copies of sales and rental listings from the websites of bona fide brokers.”

Genus concedes that this activity is not illegal, but a spokesperson said that in home-buying terms it would be like someone selling your house without your authority to an innocent third party who believed the broker was acting on your behalf.

The market value as defined by the original, authorised broker is then hidden from the purchaser. These unauthorised brokers have been known to mark up a berth by as much as 25%, the spokesperson said.

“In the same way that you wouldn’t buy a car from lots of different middlemen, we recommend that berth buyers should always trace the berth back to the original authorised broker. If you aren’t talking to us direct, you’re not buying direct,” Brewster said.